A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Picking up the Pieces/Preparedness

As I write this blog, people are still trying to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy blew through the New York/New Jersey area.

I truly hope everyone recovers well through this trying time. It's very tough when people's homes are utterly destroyed by the flooding in the area.


What I find encouraging is the support of friends and family, helping others who are more in need. It's this human nature that I always find amazing when disasters like this hurricane hit. I think of all the commodities one needs to have, friends and family should rank as the most important. Leaning on each other is the best way to get through tough times like these.

For me, this is was a prime test for emergency preparedness. Or, how self-sufficient am I when a disruption of services happen.

It was very sobering. Although we as a family were well off in some things, we were lacking in other things as well. Although it was an unfortunate circumstance, it was indeed a great test to see how we fared.

I found out that the NY Times posted an article about why Big Government is needed in times like this. I offer a bit of a rebuttal here on why it is really YOUR responsibility to be prepared when a calamity hits.

While I do applaud the city government and its formation of several evacuation centers in Staten Island with Hurricane Sandy, and with their first responders for rescuing those who were truly in danger, that should not prevent you from becoming overly dependant on them and other people. What if the storm was so bad that government couldn't even function properly? What if the storm was so bad that even your friends and family couldn't help you out of a bad situation? We've seen a lot of evidence in Hurricane Katrina, where government services broke down utterly and a lot of people suffered because of it.

People have to empower themselves and try to reason out sound plans in case another calamity happens. It's your life (as well as your loved ones) that you're trying to save, so it should be of your paramount importance that you have several emergency plans in place in case a calamity hits. Depending on other people, especially strangers, puts your life in other people's hands who may or may not consider your situation as critical as you see it. So you want to make sure to avoid this as much as possible so that you are in control of your own destiny.

That means being as prepared as much as possible and implementing a number of emergency plans in case a calamity happens.

I know a relative and her husband who has a house in Tottenville, in a "Zone A evacuation area" according to the city. The day before the storm hit, the city enacted a "mandatory" evacuation of Zone A areas. Her husband didn't heed the evacuation orders.

If they wanted to stay by their house in a zone that might get flooded, then that's fine, but maybe, just maybe, they should have made several emergency plans in case the worst case scenario does happen.

They didn't do that. Plus, her husband doesn't know how to swim. Sorry guys, but if you're sticking at your house that has the potential to flood, and you cannot swim, YOU ARE A DISASTER IN THE MAKING. Especially if you didn't even plan for that eventuality.

The flood did happen, and thankfully, the city did respond by sending out responders out to rescue them from their flooded home. But that situation could have easily been prevented, and they know it.

If you were going to defy city orders, fine. Then prepare for a possible flood. A boat or raft at your fingertips might have worked. Or, plan to move away from the house earlier if the water was starting to move into the area. They didn't, and they became trapped.

And dependent on other people to save their lives.

Listen, I'm not saying that implementing several plans and getting prepared will make you 100% self sufficient. It won't.

But you can easily minimize your chances of putting you and your loved ones in other people's hands and being dependent on them if you are prepared.

Having a stash of durable food and clean water is important. With food, freeze-dried is preferred; most have about a 20 year life span before it goes bad. Canned food is the next preferred, with a 2-5 year life. For food, Freeze Dry Guy is pretty reliable. If you want, you can check out their website here.

With water, you can either store several gallons of water for immediate emergencies. For longer term emergencies, a means of sanitizing water would be paramount. Iodine and chlorine (bleach) are effective ways of sanitizing water. The water will taste like crap, but at least it's drinkable. The iodine product is described and can be bought here.

Next is a means of defense. Looting is an unfortunate circumstance in situations like these and you might be called upon to defend yourself and your loved ones. Guns will work; if you don't have a gun, knives and bats will work also. Hopefully you won't need them, but they are good to have in an emergency. It would also be good to learn a bit of self-defense if you don't have weapons available in a life-threatening situation

Having a car filled with gas is also great to have. I was comforted to know I had a fully fuelled car in case I had to "bug out" of the area.

A generator would also work for short-term situations. For long term, it wouldn't work since gas would unlikely be available to keep the generator running.

Lastly, if the worst case scenario does happen and you do have to depend on other people, friends and family are best to have. A good support network is key, and I've seen it prevalent in this case where friends and relatives were willing to help other people in need.

This is one of our best qualities as humans to possess.

Anyway I hope everyone here made it safely through the storm. I wish you and your loved ones a safe recovery, and better preparedness in the future. I am no exception; I will be definitely taking some actions of my own to further increase my preparedness.

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