a reply to: Flyingclaydisk
My experience with a widespread disaster is limited to an ice storm in '09 that knocked out power to an entire region. For us it was just a couple of
weeks before it was restored but many in the area were without power for up to a month. Unlike your scenario, we had a landline when cell towers went
out so we had access to internet. In addition we were warned of the impending disaster for three days before it hit us.
Our disaster plan began when I was designing our house. I made sure that we had adequate space to have a store of supplies set aside like my parents
had done. Since our biggest expected natural disaster is an earthquake (New Madrid fault) we made sure that our house was built to Alaska's standards
since Kentucky officials looked at me as if I'd gone round the bend when I told them I wanted the house to be able to withstand a major quake. (I
had a contractor friend who lived and worked in Alaska at the time so was able to get his expertise.)
Before the storm hit we did extra shopping and we did a lot of cooking. I had designed the fireplace grate with a pot hook and a pot ring and had
lots of cast iron spiders, Dutch ovens, skillets and such. We had two freezers full of food, one of them full of a cow from a farmer just down the
road. When we put that kind of cash into food my husband thought it best that we protect that investment with a whole house generator. In November
of '08 he did some research and found what we needed and the generator was installed. There were plenty of our friends and family members who thought
we'd gone just a tad paranoid to spend that kind of money on a "what if" situation.
When the power went out we were fine and we had a refrigerator full of food that only needed to be warmed by the fire. We closed off the back
portion of the house and were able to stay comfortable with only heat from the fireplace. We ran the generator a couple of times a day to keep the
freezers from thawing and to let folks get a hot shower from time to time.
Our community is rural, not out in the boonies rural but a farming community. We know each other and we are used to helping each other. We know the
first responders and they were the ones we made sure to contact and let them know that if they were in the area they were welcome to come by for a hot
cup and a meal. They knew who else needed help so our net grew.
People who didn't have generators brought food to be cooked. We feasted and shared with the older folks in the neighborhood who didn't want to leave
their homes to go to a shelter. We charged the batteries in a neighbor's emergency oxygen supply.
From this experience we were able to refine our plans a bit. One of the shortcomings of my original plan was that I hadn't stored nearly enough
coffee to share it with the world. I used about 4 months worth of coffee in that two weeks. I had based the coffee on my normal usage alone since my
husband didn't drink muddy water.
We never got around to digging into the "survival food" because people kept bringing food to be cooked from their freezers. Our "survival" supplies
as such, dried beans, rice and "add water" foods never got touched.
Funny you should bring this up just now. I was at the shooting range recently and one of the deputies who enjoyed our hospitality asked me if my
house would become a coffee house again when the next ice storm hits. It was a reminder to me to check my supplies as there were mutterings about the
possibility of one coming our way. I'm a little old lady who can do quite well in the kitchen to keep folks fed. I was taught that reaching out to
help others when possible is a virtue.
I knew the people who were responding to the disaster because I sat on committees who plan for these events and run drills several times a year. I
would suggest that if one is serious about being prepared they should seek out their local disaster preparedness teams. In working with them you
will learn a lot, including how your local system is likely to work during the actual event. You will also learn abut the weaknesses of the plan and
be able to make your own plan better by knowing the likelihood of what will work and what won't.