We’ve all heard about preppers who stock up on supplies in case something bad happens that puts them off the grid.
Thanks to Hurricane Florence, most of us became preppers ourselves this past week, stocking up on water, nonperishable food, matches, batteries, medications and other supplies.
I’m not a hoarder, but I do keep a full pantry. I learned to do this growing up in the Midwest—where one could be marooned for days in the winter. I learned reminders living power-less through Carolina ice storms and Hugo.
Doing without lights and air conditioning is one thing; doing without water is another. No electricity means no power for our well pump. A couple of flushes and you hear that thumping echoey sound of a water line failing to deliver. When that happens once, you don’t want to relive the experience.
As Florence churned off Bermuda, the “stock up” urge struck again. I ventured on-line to see who sells oil lanterns and lamp oil. This is 2018, not 1918, so the choices were slim. I considered ordering on-line when visions of a delivery truck swamped in flood waters urged me to try Plan B. I set out Tuesday morning in search of two must-haves: an oil lamp with a wick and oil to burn. I like oil lamps—they offer more light than candles. Lucky for me, I nabbed Walmart’s last lantern and then drove over to Michael’s, where the website promised lamp oil. Lucky for me, few had discovered this fact.
Visiting a store in storm-prep mode is to invite sneers and chuckles from clerks too young to remember Hugo or the ice storm of 1996.
You should have been here yesterday, they said. We’re all sold out. No more deliveries coming. The empty shelves looked like the East Bloc during the Cold War—the real zombie apocalypse. I’m sure those clerks can’t recall the East Bloc, or September 2008 when Hurricane Ike did a number on the Colonial Pipeline, the major supplier of gas and oil to the East Coast. As local fuel supplies dwindled, the lucky ones were able to trail a gas delivery truck to a local station, which our son did during the wee hours one night to fill up our vehicles.
Last week locals were taking Florence seriously–too seriously. Schools and colleges were closed on Thursday, a perfectly nice late summer day, and Friday, when the first cloud bands circled overhead. By mid-day tree tops began their pre-hurricane dance, alternating between stone stillness and full sway.
As I write this column, wind gusts are blowing fresh out of the northeast at 15 mph. We’ve already filled our vehicles with gas (after waiting in line). We have taken our porch swing down, moved the furniture and plants to a safe place. Expecting to lose power, I have filled the bathtub, placed full buckets at the commodes, drawn drinking water in Themos jugs. I’ve also filled watering cans for indoor plants, placed outdoor flower pots against the foundation.
Florence. You aren’t our first apocalypse.