Saturday, October 10, 2015

Surviving a Flood- What Not to Do.

     For those who’ve head their heads fully buried in the sand, a massive storm hit the Columbia are of South Carolina this week turning it into a bonafide disaster area.  I am currently living in this area and unfortunately did not handle the situation as well as I should have. Basically I ignored every warning sign and did not prepare in any way. So here are my tips on how not to handle yourself during a natural disaster.
1. Don’t Ignore All of the Warnings
      Yes we had plenty of warnings that a huge storm was headed our way. Everyone from the Governor to the National Weather Bureau blathered on about it. I received regular blaring reports over my cell phone, advising on emergency flash flood warnings and to beware. But it wasn’t until a lake of water was lapping at my front door that I paid  any attention.
     In my defense this has been a year of heavy rainfall with many premature warnings from the weather services. I must have gotten close to twenty five emergency squawks on my cell phone about possible flooding, none of which has panned out. So I figured that this one would follow suit. In addition, over my years in the South, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the city shut down over a light dusting of snow. A sprinkling, not even a quarter of an inch, will the send the city into panic mode with spree shopping for essentials and people bunkering down like it’s the apocalypse. So at the time, I felt justified in assuming it was just another storm in a teacup.

Later on I felt less so.
2. Make Sure that You Have Food That Doesn’t Require Much Prep Work
       After I became stranded in my house, first the power went out, then a boil water caution went out over the emergency services, indicating that the municipal supply had been contaminated by the flood water. Meaning don’t drink or wash with the stuff unless you wanted to play fun new games with hepatitis. But, no power meant that I had no way to boil water.
     In addition I had no food that could be eaten without some form of cooking, apart from an old box of crackers and a few tangerines. That was barely adequate for one day, let alone two. All of the rest of my food quickly spoiled in any case and had to be tossed. I actually unsure how long it would take for the food to go bad, but I decided to err on the side of caution and cast it into the flood waters. I ended up supplementing the crackers by munching on uncooked blocks of ramen noodles.
     All I had to drink was a little juice and a lot of beer, so I was somewhat crocked the entire time. The first night I woke up dehydrated, so I kept taking showers, which I have recently learned is the wrong thing to do.
A whole lot of beer
3. Don’t Put Off Buying All of that Emergency Crap
     I had no gear to deal with a lack of electricity. No candles, no matches or a lighter, no bottled water, no rain gear except a lopsided umbrella. I had a flashlight, but the battery died after 20 minutes and, of course, I had no backup batteries. It was grey and cloudy all of the time and when the sun went down it was pitch black out, so I wandered about in darkness most of the time. It was not fun.
But later on I did find an old half eaten bag of boiled peanuts!
4. Don’t let Boredom Drive You to Do Something Stupid
      My greatest weakness, besides indolence, is an inability to be bored for any extended length of time, and those days were tedious beyond belief. I know, poor me, my life is truly a Greek tragedy. But being a natural night owl, darkness is my playground and I spent many many hours during that time staring at the black of my house, until hallucinatory lights flashed across my vision.
     So when I shook myself awake one morning, I decided to try and make it to a friend’s house. I put on my worst clothes, shrouded myself in garbage bags as makeshift rain gear, and wandered out into the water. In ten minutes I was up to my chest and was knocked over by a passing stop sign. I was pulled this way and that, headed in an entirely different direction than I wanted to go and eventually floundered my way back to my place (located near the top of a hill), battered and wet. After that I decided being bored wasn’t too bad. Better the devil I knew.
I'm just glad that I decided not to take my car