Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Importance of Storm Preps - That Video You Have to See

Has everyone seen the video going around of the guy and his daughter in the path of the Washington, Illinois tornado last week? I first saw it a couple days ago and it's just haunting.  I'm not embedding the video because I don't know those people but I figured it's OK to link to since it's been spread around online. Click here for the original youtube page.

But first, a couple of warnings....

1. This is hard to watch.

2. Send your kids out of the room before you click because there is a lot of (justifiable) swearing. But keep the sound up because you just have to hear this. That horrible metallic noise is their house being ripped apart.

3. Don't even think of making any unkind comments here. I'm not kidding. I don't know who has time to criticize how someone reponds to a terrible situation, but mean comments are not welcome.

I also don't want to sensationalize a terrible event. The reason I want to bring this to your attention is to see if we can learn from it.

Last Sunday I wore shorts to church because it was unseasonably warm. We expected to have plenty of time to get home and get our storm preps done. And we did. But there is always that one horrible moment before a big storm were you look around and wonder if all of this is still going to be standing when it's over.

For these poor folks - most everything they could see was gone. Six people were killed in Illinois and 1500 homes were destroyed.

Aside from the screams of that poor kid, a few things stood out to me:

1. Look how fast it happened. He showed the backyard and the rest of the neighborhood at about 0:15 then he went to the sheltered area. About a minute later he made his way out at about 1:17. Look in the background - the trees, the houses, the stuff.... all gone. Gone. It was about a minute. A minute.

2. That was probably the last time they were going to be in that house. Maybe for a while and maybe forever. The walls were gone. What would it be like for you if someone came into your home and said "In a minute you need to walk out of here and you can't come back." Then what? Where would you go? What if your car was gone too?

3. Look at all the stuff everywhere. The one thing that kind of killed me is that he panned the camera down for a second and I could see that he had those flip flop shoes on.... with all the debris, nails, and broken glass. That got me. Look around. What if the clothes you had on and the shoes on your feet were the only things you had to wear - to sleep in, to work in, to try and salvage your ruined belongings in - for the next several days. In one minute what if the only things you had on were the only things you had? 

This video was just... haunting. That's the only word I can think of.... and it made me review our storm preps.

We think we do a pretty good job with our storm prep. But this taught me a few things.

First, I'm going to be relentless in my reminder to "put shoes on your feet and your phone in your pocket." I always put on sturdy shoes when we have weather coming in. Shoes that I can walk over broken glass, or debris, or whatever. Shoes that I can work in - hard work like moving trees or construction or demolition.  What if you had to chainsaw your way out of your driveway? Or heaven forbid, have to pull a neighbor out of their house. Are you really going to do yourself or someone else any good barefoot?

And I'm now going to add "and your car keys too." Those folks had to leave their home, provided they still had a car outside, how could they safely and easily find their keys? They needed to get out of that house that second in case it collapsed. That is not the time to be wondering around trying to find your keys.  I'm definitely adding that to the list.

Next, we need to do a better job of having "to go" kits or bags. I love how these mommies make a "72 hour kit" with an empty milk jug for each family member. Plus they make this kind of thing approachable and easy. In truth, we probably would not evacuate unless there was some kind of forest fire. With all of our farm animals, even if we didn't have power or services, we would probably stick around. We are OK "off the grid" for a while. However, if we had to 'bug out' we'd waste time trying to get organized.

Also, I still have important papers in the house. I think one of my winter projects should be to scan them and keep them electronically accessible. I saw a story on the news about a gal who got one of her pictures back - from something like 170 miles away. Someone found it and posted it on a fb page and it was returned to her. I'd hate to try and find my truck title half way across the state.

That being said, there are a few storm prep things that we do well, including:

1. We closely monitor the weather. We are total weather nerds and so are our friends. So we would probably not be caught off guard. You should not be caught off guard either.  Typically we hear about "weathermakers" for a couple days before we are impacted. If you can't stand to watch the news get a weather radio, sign up for alerts, or "friend" your local weather guys so you get updates.

2. We have an action plan. We have a specific plan and order of actions to take out in the barnyard and inside the house to prep for storms. If we have 5 minutes or an hour we can get most of the barnyard secured. In the house we herd the cats and dogs into easy to manage areas so they are safe. We have a stack of carriers to contain our companion animals if we have to - and we know exactly the safest place in the house to hunker down with them.

3. We know where our chainsaw is....and it's not buried out in the garage somewhere under a bunch of stuff, unmaintained, and low on fuel. The one "thing" we grab when we are in the path of a storm is not the pictures or Grandma's bible... it's our chainsaw. Sharpened, fueled, ready to use, and near us in the basement. We are ready in case have to cut our way out of the driveway or get heavy limbs off the chicken house.

4. We make an effort to have our trucks full of gas - and we almost always have full, extra gas cans. After Hurricane Sandy folks had to drive long, long distances to get supplies. We live pretty far out anyway and even tho we are well stocked, what if we had to drive a couple hundred miles for materials? Or 50 miles for gas?

5. We have good attitudes. We both know that bad situations are made worse by complaining and reciting the bad conditions. Having a plan and working the plan provides for better attitudes which makes a bad situation more bearable.

It looks like we are in for another weather wallop this week so now is a great time to review your storm preps. Since we've got a couple days everyone should have plenty of time to stock up, gear up, and get ready. How about you? Are you ready for this next winter weather looloo?

What did you think - did you learn anything from this video?

And just a note on some of the comments on youtube ... I'm not sure who has time to berate a stranger on the internet on the worst day of his life... but that's horrible and shame on those mean people. If those mean people really don't have anything else to do but make fun of a frightened little girl - then they have too much time on their hand and need more chores...and to repent.

As for me, I'm going to pray for those poor folks - the dad and the daughter. Thank heavens they were not hurt - and the rest of the kids were out of town. I'm going to pray for their comfort and restoration. Then I'm going to go and look over my storm preps again. With sturdy shoes on my feet.

Happy Monday everyone!


Vera said...

Thank you for posting the video link, and for telling us about your storm preparations. You have reminded me of how we lucky we are here in Europe in that we do not have the storms that you have in your part of the world. Hope you stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Though, I think you should be honest and admit that the chainsaw in the basement is really your defense against El Gato Diablo! ;)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks, Vera. And yes, you are lucky. I'll take earthquakes any day over these storms.

Anon - not even our biggest Stihl could save us from Gato Diablo... he's crazy. We can only hope to keep him docile with promises of canned food and a warm fire. :-)

Ken Broadhurst said...

We certainly had earthquake kits in San Francisco. I remember sleeping in my shoes, on the sofa near the front door, the night of the 1989 earthquake. We were still feeling quite a few aftershocks and you never knew if the so-called big quake was just a warning that a bigger one was coming.

David said...

great post. That storm was right across the river from my brothers house in Peoria. They were spared but know people not so fortunate

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