Observations Regarding Hurricane Sandy

Plan A will generally require the assistance of Plan B. But what if there is no Plan B?

Or, in the meaning-laden question of a friend of mine, “Are you ready?”

News feeds from the Sandy Theater of Operations illustrate the reality of conditions that live large and powerful within internet PAW fiction and prepper guru predictions. It can get ugly, even with FEMA preparations and promises. Words, fliers and official FAQs are useless when it comes to providing disaster relief. Only actions have value. Here we are, almost a week after the hurricane, and hundreds of thousands of people still have no power or adequate food and water. A good portion of those will have a hard time staying warm as the nights get close to or below freezing temperatures. Deliveries of food, water and fuel are spotty, and the result is great discomfort and crime. Here are some headlines…

Help Finally Arrives in Far Rockaway – NBC News  (Video)
“Some help finally begins to arrive in Far Rockaway after residents there went for a week without heat, power or hot water after Sandy. As another week of freezing temperatures set in, the community spirit is more vital to neighbors than ever. Greg Cergol reports.”

Without Electricity, New Yorkers on Food Stamps Can’t Pay For Food – ColorLines.com
“The supermarkets don’t even really want to sell anything. They’re open but if you don’t have cash, you messed up. And everybody in these projects, they take EBT…food stamps…”

This is one example of reliance on the government gone bad. What will people do in a major emergency without electricity? EBT, Debit, Credit and all other forms of electronic money and money transfer can quickly become useless. Gold and silver are just about as useless. Cash, which gets a big rap on some prepper forums, is and will be king. At least initially.  It is the premium barter medium. At some point, if the situation last longs enough, and the people too, bartering will come into play. But people that prep barter supplies might find it hard to do business unless both sides of the potential transaction have what the other needs. Get your cash in order first, then worry about barter and precious metals. Having to convert these into something people want is so much more difficult than just whipping out the cash roll and peeling off a few bills.

Those without the means to pay for their needs will eventually resort to  taking what they need. This includes your stuff and your cash. Tense crowds turn into mobs with only a little prodding. Don’t get caught in them. With proper prepping, you shouldn’t need to. Those that live in areas that could be devastated by nature might do well to evacuate when warned, or when your gut tells you to.

FEMA Taps Private Vendors to Meet Sandy Victim’s Needs – Brietbart
“…the agency appears to have been completely unprepared to distribute bottled water to Hurricane Sandy victims when the storm hit this Monday. In contrast to its stated policy, FEMA failed to have any meaningful supplies of bottled water — or any other supplies, for that matter — stored in nearby facilities…”

The seeds of destruction. When a populations’ expectations for official assistance is trashed, they will seek other means. Here, many expected the promised of officials to be kept. They were disappointed.  These are potentially life saving supplies that went mismanaged. If the situation were something different, such as a dirty bomb, Yellowstone eruption, nuclear attack, etc….  wide-ranging disaster would meet wide-ranging official failure. Only bad can result. Don’t place your hope with the authorities outside of any other possible preparations, especially your own. It’s your life. Take responsibility for it.

After the Flood comes the Freeze, a N’or Easter Approaches – Zero Hedge
“First the flood, now the freeze (and the lack of fuel and gas and heating just making it much worse). And for tens of thousands of residents of New York and New Jersey this means that as many as 40,000 will need to find alternative housing, especially ahead of Wednesday when a Nor’easter formation is expected to hit”

Another example of how the foreseen disaster results can leave out equally disastrous but unforeseen consequences. How many more will die of hypothermia? Some have already been found, and the cold storm hasn’t arrived yet. With 40,000 projected refugees, this could be very bad news.

Staten Island Man Busted Impersonating a Red Cross Worker to Burglarize Homes – New York Daily News
“Officers spotted Manzo peering into windows along Midland Avenue in Midland Beachat 7:30 p.m. on Friday, reported the Staten Island Advance.  He allegedly claimed to be a volunteer for the humanitarian organization helping storm victims, but he did not have any documentation confirming those claims.”

Along with this guy are whole gangs of thieves posing as utility workers and aid workers. They walk boldly up to doors at odd hours, or cruise neighborhoods looking for abandoned marks. Their creativity is as wide as the trucks into which they toss their stolen goods. Some are armed, and others are desperate to make their marks with their gangs. People really do need to be aware, and ready to challenge those insisting on entering their homes. NO! is a powerful word. Even more so with a phone or a gun in hand.

NYV Mayor Bloomberg Says up to 40,000 May Need Relocation – CBS News
“With overnight temperatures sinking into the 30s and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still without electricity six days after Sandy howled through, people piled on layers of clothes, and New York City officials handed out blankets and urged victims to go to overnight shelters or daytime warming centers.”

Rudi Giuliani: FEMA as Bad as in Katrina – Politico
“It’s quite obvious they didn’t pre-plan for water, they didn’t pre-plan for the generators, they didn’t pre-plan for the gasoline.”

And on the other side, the part of the populace that went out and cleared the shelves of generators didn’t buy enough fuel cans and fuel to power them. There are many stories of people in these massive fuel lines seeking fuel for their generators. To make it worse, many gas stations can’t get the fuel from their tanks. They use manual pumps (difficult). Tankers off shore loaded with fuel can’t get in, and even if they did, the means to distribute it are sparse. If you rely on backup generator power, be sure you have adequate fuel stores.

NY Man Charged in Gas Hoarding Case – NBC Connecticut
“Police arrested a 47-year-old New York man accused of filling up 30 five-gallon Home Depot buckets with gasoline on Saturday night. According to investigators, Yunus Latif, of Richmond Hill, collected money from his neighbors, bought gas at a Valero station almost 80 miles away in Orange and planned to bring it back to his neighborhood, where they had no power and gas.”

Some people are too smart for their own good. Those buckets were swelling. In an accident, they WOULD spill. Don’t kill yourself like this. Be more creative.

Sandy Price Gouging Probed: $& Loaf of Bread; $10 Box of Matches – NBC New York
“(Attorney General) Schneiderman said Monday that he’s investigating an increasing number of reports of spikes in prices for essential goods including gasoline, food, bottled water, generators, batteries and flashlights. The probe can include sharp, unwarranted increases in the cost of prices by retailers including supermarkets, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, hotels and taxis, he said.”

THIS. If you wait until the problem arises, you’ll be too late in stocking up. If you are caught with little to nothing, your chances of getting through in some measure of comfort are nil. Prices will spike, dealers will gouge, and you will be left holding very little for the cash you had. Prepping means getting your ducks in a row ahead of time.

After Sandy, Gas Lines Stretch for Miles – CNN Money   “Motorists in New York and New Jersey are lining up for gas in queues that are miles long in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.”

“Troy Terris, who was also waiting in line with cans in hand, said the gas shortage was driving some people to crime. 

 “My sister in Manalapan had a can of gas sitting out front [for her generator] and it got stolen overnight,” he said.”

Drivers Facing Long Lines, Empty Pumps in New York – New York Daily News
“Motorists in New York hoping to gas up their cars on Wednesday were met by massive lines and empty gas stations, as power outages across the region led to a shortage of open fuel stops.”

“Aziz said his station ran out of gas at around noon, after being open for just three hours.
“That amount would normally take us 24 hours to sell,” he said.”

“Gas in central and north #NJ impossible to find. When you do, lines hours long. Waited in one line then they ran out. This is serious,” one Jersey woman tweeted.” 

Gas Shortages and Police Drawing Guns – Brietbart  See the Tweets….

Outside of the disaster area, there can be other effects. In this case, the weather pattern was not geographically isolated to the storm damaged coasts and barrier islands. It reached out in a big way, with a diameter that ultimately surpassed 1,000 miles. Parts of West Virginia had snow measuring three feet, with power going out within the first hour of the storm. Great Lakes waves set records. Rainfall caused creeks and rivers to swell. Building plans based upon a limited set of scenario factors helps with tuning individual plan components. But such plans need to look at far-reaching unintended consequences. Katrina and Sandy are perfect case studies for this kind of review and planning. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

One of the nightmares  common enough among preppers to be mentioned regularly on the forums is that wherein family shows up, or otherwise begs for help. These family members are the same ones that poo-poo your prepping efforts, call you a whack job, and go about happily without a care in the world. When FEMA and local agencies don’t or can’t help, they come running to the prepper for help. Here is a LINK to an excellent example of this. Give it a read. You’ll see comments that place the blame just about everywhere. What do you think?

In Closing…..

If this short list of news reports and observations doesn’t convince you of the need to plan for your  own security, I don’t know what will. If you are overwhelmed with the requirements to do so, I hear ya. But getting setup isn’t hard. It simply means that you meet the needs of the scenario in question before you get a chance to test it out for real.

To get started, you can review our “Building Your Plan” page.  If you have specific questions for a difficult situation, send us an e-mail, and we’ll see about pointing you in the right direction. But whatever you do, GET A PLAN. Don’t put it off. Large or small, a disaster always leaves in its wake terrible stories of loss and grief. Don’t become a player in such a hard situation.



1 comment to Observations Regarding Hurricane Sandy

  • Just one more example of the need for preparing for longer term situations, and some type of Bug-out plan, with a BOL to go to if it is only a campground, a relative’s home, friends, or a privately owned piece of ground with or without a structure.

    Just my opinion


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