Firsthand lessons from the Seattle flooding

From a friend in the Seattle area who wanted to stay anonymous:

  • Most of my disasters preparations; food, water, generator, water filters, supplies, etc… are for the days after things go bad. Getting through the first 24 hours in the best possible condition is much more important. How you get through and what you do in the first 24 hours will set the tone for everything that follows.
  • Do you know where your community rally point is? Where emergency services will be available? Where to get sandbags? Closest chopper pad?
  • Disasters are a come as you are event. I spent the first three hours of the flood in slip on moccasins and sweat pants. No gun, no multi-tool, just my Spyderco knife and a Sharpie. If it isn’t on-hand in three minutes or if you don’t remember that you have it or exactly where it is, it might as well be on the moon.
  • Don’t overfill sandbags. 90% full is about optimum. That way, there’s room in the bag for the sand to shift, conform to the space to fill in the gaps.
  • A wheelbarrow. Its not just for farmers. You can move twice as much material for less effort in a wheelbarrow than by carrying it. I recommend the dual-wheeled models as they’re more stable and less likely to get stuck in the mud.
  • Energy drinks. Legalized “speed” that will carry you through with extra energy when you need it.
  • An American flag, pole and holder. Hanging the flag outside your residence is a good way to signal to aid/rescue that your house is occupied.
  • Pre-packed disaster equipment. Hoses with your pumps, extension cords with your generator. Saves time and effort as everything is in the box ready to go so you don’t have to gather it up or remember where it is under pressure.
  • Physical skills. Do you know how to build a sandbag wall quickly and efficiently? (I never thought about it before now.) Do you know how to drive your SUV through deep water? How deep can you safely go?
  • You might be prepared and know what you’re doing, but there’s lots of idiots out there. Law enforcement and officials are going to assume you’re the latter until they see otherwise.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Your most useful tool is the one between your ears.

There’s some very thought-provoking advice in the above, especially knowing your community and convincing the local law that you’re not an idiot. I know I’ll be applying this list to our family’s disaster planning.

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