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Is Your Family Prepared For A Weather Emergency?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Unless you’re living under a really big rock, you’ve probably heard about hurricane Sandy and its impending beating on the east coast. I was in Northern California for the past several days (for a glorious, kid-free getaway with Nick—more on that soon) and even there, the storm dominated the news. Alex’s school has been cancelled for today and tomorrow already. Nora’s, too. NYC has basically shut down and we are all awaiting power outages, floods, falling trees, storm surges and God/Al Roker knows what else. I usually roll my eyes a little at the fear mongering that comes with these weather patterns, but this one feels legit. And scary. Nick and I raced into town yesterday morning around 7 a.m. hot off the redeye (we left Cali a little early to beat HS) and began to scramble.

But we didn’t have to scramble too much because we’re basically prepared for stuff like this. I’ve mentioned our Armageddon pantry before, right? (It’s basically just overflow from our kitchen cabinets—due to our frequent Costco runs—but it’s packed with food and water and supplies.) We have tons of batteries and flashlights and candles and cool, end-of-days gadgets. It’s all Nick, who's a great person to have in your foxhole in a situation like this (particularly since he’s good with electronics and will hook up your foxhole with emergency wifi!). It was killing him to be in San Francisco on Saturday instead of home doing his disaster preparedness routine. I get to be a little cavalier about it all because I have “Armageddon Nick” on my team (i.e., I was most worried about whether we had enough shallots for me to make my salad dressing). This time last year when hurricane Irene hit, he was one of the only people among our family and friends with a generator. And while I had poked a little fun at him for buying it, I surely liked reaping the benefits from that purchase when we lost power for three days.

Anyway, from all the news out there it seems like it’s going to be a rough week. I’m typing this really fast (please forgive typos) because I’m guessing we might lose power any time now. Our trees are basically going horizontal in the gusts. But first, I want to tell you what we did yesterday to prepare—the smart, the silly, the kinda selfish—and hear what you've done. Check out our list and share your own!

1. Made a cheese ball shaped like a pumpkin. Alex and I have been wanting to do this (recipe from Food Network magazine) for a while and what better to have in your lifeboat than a cream cheese ball rolled in crushed Doritos? Can’t wait to dig in later.

2. Bought wine. A lot of it. Being that we are the only ones in my family with a generator, there’s a good chance we’ll be entertaining this week. And even if we’re alone, after long days home with stir-crazy kids, wine will definitely be necessary.

3. Gassed up the cars, the grill (we’ll be eating off that if we lose power since our stove is electric), the extra gas tanks for the generator, put away all the lawn furniture, the gazebo, the chimenea, blew out the gutters, moved everything off the floor of our basement in case of flooding and parked the cars in an area of the driveway where they’re least likely to get hit by a tree (ps, we have a bunch of big old trees on and near our property so it’s extra nerve-wracking).

4. Told the kids not to get hurt or sick because we wouldn’t be able to drive them to the doctor. Seriously, Nick gave them a lengthy talking to about not acting like wild animals and doing anything that may need stitches, x-rays or pretty much anything more serious than a band-aid and a kiss.

5. Harvested a bunch of stuff from our garden (lettuces, scallions, kale, carrots, beans) and my parents’ garden (peppers, eggplant). At the very least, we’ll be healthy and well-fed for the end of days. I wouldn’t want to go any other way.

6. Bought an electric griddle to hook into the generator so we can still make eggs and pancakes if/when we lose power. As you’ve probably noticed, food is important to our family and cold cereal just won’t cut it. Also, Nick got an extra pound of bacon “just in case.”

7. Watched lots of movies with the kids—A. Nick and I were deranged from flying through the night instead of sleeping so we weren’t capable of much else and B. we had to get our fill before we lose all capabilities of tubing out. I don’t know how many puzzles I can do by candlelight.

8. Bought the kids glow-in-the-dark flashlights (we had time to kill before our redeye home Saturday night so we stocked up). They both fell asleep clutching them last night and it was really cute (I had to sing Alex to sleep because he was so nervous about the storm, poor boy). Not so cute when I went into Nora’s room to get her this morning and she shined it in my eyes and said mischievously, “wait, who are you?!”

9. Bathed with lots of hot water and soap. Dried hair. Who knows when we’ll have that luxury again and if we’re all gonna be holed up together in this house, we’d better smell good.

10. Got take-out Chinese for dinner last night. When the kids went to bed, Nick and I ordered it and watched Homeland. Heavenly. We figured it may be the last time a delivery guy can get to us for a few days so we better make it count. We did.

OK, that’s it for now! The wind is howling outside and I have to say, as much as this is putting a wrench in my week (and my ability to meet deadlines, for any of my editors who may be reading this), there is no place I’d rather be right now than hunkered down with my crew. And that crew is currently having a pajama dance party in my living room to really inappropriate music. I must join!  So, are you in Sandy’s path? How did you prepare? What’s your plan for the day? What am I forgetting?!