I type this at the oasis that is my RE/MAX Properties office in what seems to be only a handful of places in NW Bergen County NJ that has power.
Being in the midst of my very first (serious) hurricane and being out of power for the first time ever, I can now reflect on what preparations I SHOULD have done before the Hurricane Sandy hit my state. Now, folks in Florida or Texas are probably well-versed in disaster preparations but for people in North Jersey, we just don't go through hurricanes of this magnitude, thankfully. Here's a list of preparations that I did do (and glad I did) or I wished I had done.
Before the Storm
- Listen to the newscasts and heed their warnings. Sure, they have a record of making mountains out of molehills but their tone was much different this time around.
- Fill up your gas tanks and gas cans. It's been 3 days since the storm hit and gas is only getting more scarce. There are lines for gas that are 2 miles long right now for the few stations that have gas. Plus, with so many people using generators, gas consumption is even higher. I find this much scarier than having no power for a week.
- Make reservations at a hotel. It's hit or miss because their power could be cut off as well but you can always cancel day-of if power is restored. If you have a reservation, you'll be so thankful to have a nice warm room and bed, hot shower, indoor pool for the kids, and restaurants with food.
- Do laundry. Clean every stitch of clothing that you have because you don't know when you'll be able to do laundry again.
- Buy underwear. In the event that you have to go more than a week without power and you no longer have a fresh pair, whip out the jumbo pack from Target which can buy you another week.
- Buy essentials. Parmalat milk, canned goods, paper plates (no dishwasher or hot water, remember?), water and juice boxes, fruit, applesauce, pancake mix, energy bars, and peanut butter and crackers.
- Start eating all your frozen food. I wish I began eating all my frozen meats last week in preparation. Now I'm forced to chuck it all.
- Have a copy of your insurance info. You may not be able to fish it out of your file cabinet when the chaos begins.
- Close your transaction. Did you know that if you are under contract with purchasing or selling a property, the bank will need to come out and physically inspect the property to ensure it is not damaged? There will be a big delay of closings for properties that were due to close in November and that's only if the property was not damaged during the hurricane.
- Hunker down in an interior room or the basement (only if you don't expect flooding)
- Wear bike helmets in case of a falling tree or flying debris
- Keep water, snacks, transistor radio and flashlights close by.
- Surpress the urge to look out the window or go out on the porch or deck.
After the storm
- Check in on your neighbors and friends. Make sure that they have relatives nearby who can shelter them.
- Get word out to your loved ones that all is okay as soon as you can. They'll be anxious to know that you are okay.
- Conserve gas and if you have to get gas, find a gas station that is open 24/7 and go at some ungodly hour to avoid long lines of cranky drivers.
- Get connected via Twitter and Facebook. Friend or follow your local police department, Office of Emergency Management, your electric company, and anyone who might have a clue as to what is going on.
- Have patience and faith. Have faith that your local officials and the power companies are doing everything they can to get things back to normal. But it is, what it is. Yes, it is frustrating, cold and paralyzing but the situation is TEMPORARY and could be so much worse. See: any photo from Seaside Heights, Pt. Pleasant, Lavalette, Long Beach, Breezy Point, Fire Island, or Staten Island. People lost their homes. They lost their possessions. They lost their lives.
Got a tip on how to be better equipped the next time, God forbid, this happens? Let me know. I hope to never have to use it but then again, it's better to be prepared, right?