In case you haven’t been watching the news lately, this happened. For several days after the initial storm—even several weeks for some areas—people across the east coast were huddling at emergency stations waiting to be fed, nearly rioting as they waited in line for two and three hours for gas, and desperately trying to find places with power where they could charge cell phones to be able to contact loved ones. Over eight million total homes and businesses lost power from the storm, and today, two and a half weeks later, there are still those waiting for their power to come back on.
I’m sure we’ve all read plenty and watched plenty of stories since Sandy hit—stories of people who didn’t evacuate when they were warned to and then tried to get out too late and lost loved ones in the storm, stories of people stuck in their homes with no power and no food because frankly they just weren’t prepared. Accompanying all of these stories are haunting photos of the devastation left in the wake of the storm and plenty of photos, also, of people who look utterly lost because they’ve found themselves suddenly unable to meet their own and their families’ most basic needs: food, water, and shelter.
Nothing has been scarier for me, though, than this video of extremely hungry people prying open a dirty city dumpster and scavenging through it to find something edible.
Watch the video here: Starving New Yorkers Dumpster Dive
This is not a scene from a post-apocalyptic film. This happened not very far away, to people just like you and me. They could have been people who on a typical day have plenty of money to meet their families’ needs, but when something bad (but not unexpected) occurred, they were not ready for it. They had money in the wallet but nowhere to spend it. As I watch scenes like this, in flashing neon lights in the background, I see the words: This could be you! This could be your family! Tomorrow. Next month. Next year. Are you ready?
My emergency preparation has been embarrassingly meager, I am going to just admit it, especially when I see the reality of others’ situations right now. Would that be me scrounging through a city dumpster if a similar storm hit my area? Not quite. But I’m not as ready as I could be.
Maybe you are a seasoned prepper and have a year’s worth of food neatly stocked away in your basement, or maybe like me you have some food stored, but not enough for extended emergency situations. Maybe you haven’t really started emergency prepping at all, and Hurricane Sandy woke you up to the startling fact that emergencies do happen. No matter our degree of preparedness, we could all do something right now to get better prepared. This could mean getting some water stored—at least one gallon of water per person per day. It could mean gathering more emergency food (If you have none at all, start small: three days’ worth or something like it). It could mean gathering some basic supplies—a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, a wrench to turn off the utilities if necessary, a whistle to signal for help—or it could mean looking into buying a generator for backup power.
Assess your preparation honestly and decide on something you can do today. Don’t let it be you in the next emergency situation standing knee-deep in other people’s trash picking out food for your family’s next meal.