Max Regian with some humorous tips on what not to do when faced with the temporary, inconvenient, non-“world ending” disaster.
I am not a fan of New Jersey’s “Stronger than the Storm” song. Seriously, if someone beat you within an inch of your life, and put you in a coma, and made you have to re-learn how to walk, would you then wake up and say “I’m stronger than that guy”?
All I’m saying is that if New Jersey was singing that song and Hurricane Sandy showed up tomorrow and said “What you been saying about me?!” New Jersey would sheepishly respond “No-nothing.”
Hearing that song made me think about disasters and I have noticed that when the forecast of disaster hits New York City, it comes with a forecast of partly cloudy judgment as well. The critical thinking needed for New Yorkers to figure out what’s required and what should be done to get through the hard times leaves like the Bridge & Tunnel crowd after a Friday night of heavy drinking and being annoying.
In an effort to help everyone, I’m going to prepare some tips and general best practices on what not to do when faced with the temporary, inconvenient, non-“world ending” disaster.
I. Where not to live.
Let’s start with the obvious. Many of you want to avoid being robbed, so you make the conscious decision not to live in Detroit if you can avoid it. On that same line of thinking, while it is impossible to completely remove yourself from EVERY disaster possible, you can at least make decisions that will minimize the damage that you will experience.
If you live on low-ground near the water, you are SCREWED when a hurricane hits. I’m sorry but it’s the truth. Throughout history, humans lived near the shore because it allowed for easy fishing, dependable trade and easy access to water. Today, most of you need none of those things. I live on the high ground in the middle of Brooklyn. Water is pumped, sushi is delivered, and my main trading route is via Amazon Prime.
If you know that where you live is not designed to survive the type of on-coming disaster, leave. Go somewhere. Go anywhere. Anywhere that is not similar to the future swimming pool that you are living in of course.
Lesson Learned: Do not live near water, on tectonic plates, or near high-value nuclear-strike target areas.
II. How not to shop.
When Hurricane Sandy was getting ready to hit, I did nothing to “get ready” because I was generally prepared. That being said, my normal “grocery shopping day” happened to fall on everyone else’s “panic day”. I didn’t realize this until I was two aisles deep in BJ’s doing my damndest to get out of there. Since I wasn’t shopping for anything “major” (i.e. life-saving), I took the time to observe the actions of everyone around me like a modern day Dian Fossey.
Here is what I learned: people do not understand how disasters work. The people I observed at BJ’s were shopping for a massive shutdown of everything, everywhere, forever. I saw two grown men rush a display of D batteries and flashlights like the sun would never rise again.
There was also a woman pushing two BJ’s carts (which, as we know, is the equivalent of eight regular carts) full of meat. I’m not sure who she was trying to feed but it was clear that she was not going to save any vegetarians. If you are preparing for power outages, getting all your supplies from the part of the store that requires constant power seems counter-productive
Lesson Learned: Do not buy foods that will not last if you lose the very things you fear losing (i.e. electricity). Also, unless the disaster you are preparing for is the explosion of the sun, you probably don’t need more flashlights than you have hands.
III. How not to survive until everything is normal.
I don’t know about everyone else, but my “high-ground living, sleeping when the sun goes down”-self lost nothing during the storm. Granted, the L train did shut down for an extended period, but it does that almost every weekend so I wasn’t terribly surprised.
I spent my time during the storm playing video games and tracking my friends on Facebook as they fell off the grid (mostly due to their phones dying from excessive tweeting coupled with an inability to re-charge their devices). FYI—draining your only communications device to look at pictures of other people going through the same storm as you is a bad plan.
Now for some technical terms: “Bug-in” means staying where you are and “bug-out” means abandoning your current location for a more survivable locale. These are “prepper” terms. Granted, NYC wasn’t a total loss and there was no need to completely abandon your house. Nevertheless, it still surprised me that a number of friends in lower Manhattan hunkered down for days when they could literally walk a few blocks north to find abundant power and hot food. Some people treated leaving the Lower East Side like they were preparing for a trip on The Oregon Trail.
Lesson Learned: Clicking “like” on cat pictures does not constitute letting people know you’re okay. Also, the high ground that you live on shouldn’t require an elevator to get to. More importantly, use your common sense people. If you’re situation is dire enough where you choose to “bug-in” then stop taking and posting selfies on Instagram.
One day, when I’m not writing humor, I may put together some tips for what you should do in a disaster situation. Until then, try not to die.
Photo: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com / flickr