Country Living Series

Monday, February 22, 2021

A year of testing

What follows is a stream-of-consciousness blog post on the events of 2020/2021 and general preparedness. Forgive me if I lurch from topic to topic without much logical progression.

It was almost exactly one year ago that Older Daughter and I took a quick trip to Seattle so she could interview with a nanny agency.

We returned home optimistic about her job prospects. Naturally we had no idea none whatever of what lay in store for the rest of the year. First the pandemic hit, then the economy tanked, then Seattle disintegrated into a hot mess of anarchy, then riots broke out all across the country, then shortages of everything from toilet paper to canning supplies occurred, then ... then ... then ...

We the Lewis family also had a lot of changes during 2020, not least of which we moved away from our beloved home of 17 years and settled into a new and smaller place. Older Daughter peeled off and got an apartment on her own and is working two jobs. Younger Daughter deployed for six miserable months (no shore leave for any of the sailors) and is now land-based at her overseas duty station (until her next deployment, of course).

If the last year has done nothing else, it has tested a whole lot of people. That testing is still going on today, everything from the hundreds of thousands of small business either closed or struggling, to the current catastrophic situation in Texas (and to a lesser extent, Oregon).

As a result of the myriad issues America has faced in the last year, being prepared is more important than ever. I think we can all agree on that. What's questionable is whether it's possible, since so many people are struggling financially. (For those in compromised financial straits, Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper and its sister site The Frugalite writes a lot about this issue. Her material is well worth reviewing.)

So when I saw an article this morning on Natural News entitled "Fifteen HARD lessons I learned from the 'Texageddon' blackouts and collapse of critical infrastructure," I read it with interest.

I often get impatient with Natural News because it tends toward the "We're all gonna die!" mindset, but this one was fairly good. The bulk of the advice is in the form of a podcast I didn't bother listening to, but here are the 15 points synopsized down. My comments are italicized and (in parentheses).

• Survival is very physical. Expect to exert a lot of physical effort. (Agreed. We had a massive windstorm and subsequent power outage back in 2015, and it was very hard work indeed to maintain livestock, water, etc.)

• Culture matters. Don't end up in a community without morals or ethics when it all hits the fan. (Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do. Not everyone can afford to move.)

• Convergence of two "black swan" disasters can wipe out your best plans, even if you have successfully prepped for any one (standalone) disaster. (Agreed. I've always maintained preparedness doesn't make you immune to disaster; it just gives you a fighting chance.)

• Some of your preps will FAIL. It's difficult to consider all possible scenarios, so count on failures striking without warning. (Agreed.Three is two, two is one, etc.)

• You need LAYERS of preparedness and "fall back" systems that are very low-tech and require nothing more than the laws of physics (gravity, chemistry, etc.). (That's why I've always preferred low-tech options for preparedness.)

• No one is coming to help you. In many situations, no one can get to you even if they wanted to.

• Containers (buckets, barrels) are extremely important. Have lots of pre-stored water and fuel at all times.

• Bitcoin and crypto were all completely valueless and useless during the collapse, since they all rely on electricity. Gold, silver and cash worked fine, on the other hand. (Yay, at last someone gets it! I've always thought tangible assets were the way to go. Personally I prefer the "stock" market such as cattle and chickens.)

• You will likely experience injuries or mishaps due to new, unusual demands on your work activities. Practice safety and be prepared to deal with injuries yourself.

• Having lots of spare parts for plumbing. Standardize your pipe sizes and accessories. I have standardized on 1″ PEX pipe and all its fittings because PEX is very easy to cut, shape and rework. Plus it's far more resistant to bursting, compared to PVC. (I take exception to this. We should all have "lots of spare parts" for plumbing? Really? Why not just have an extra house you can keep in your back pocket for any spare parts you need? What happened in Texas was unprecedented, and the whole plumbing issue is vastly more complicated than just what's under your sink. In other words, while spare plumbing parts are great, this is a "hindsight is 2020" recommendation that seems a little too pat and smacks of blaming the victim.)

• Investment in food is always a good investment, as prices will continue to climb. No one ever said during an emergency, "Gee, I wish I had less food here."

• You can't count on any government or institution or infrastructure to solve anything. Usually they just get in the way.

• You MUST have good lights and many backup batteries, or you will be sitting in the dark. You'll need a good headlamp (I use the PETZL Nao+) and some good 18650-battery flashlights such as Nitecore. (I'm also a big proponent of kerosene lamps.)

• Guns and bullets are not needed in some survival scenarios, so balance your prepping. Don't put all your money into ammo and fail to cover other important areas like emergency first aid. (Totally agree! There are too many "Rambo" preppers out there who think that because they have a bristling arsenal, that's all they need to be prepared. What are they going to do shoot their way into a closed convenience store to steal what they need whenever the power goes out?)

• Think about what are stores of energy: Wood, diesel, gasoline, propane, water elevation, etc. Survival is a lot about energy management. (Agreed. To a minor extent, we're facing that now in our new home. We're still without the backups we need to stay comfortable during a grid-down situation.)

Anyway, that's about all the rambling musings I have at the moment. Sorry to sound so incoherent.

Meanwhile, if you're in Texas, Oregon, or any other location affected by the recent storms, please let us know how you're doing and how you're coping.

28 comments:

  1. Hi! I live in a suburb of Houston and had posted a question last week about canning jars possibly freezing if the power went out in our house. Praise God! We never lost power! Every neighborhood next to us did and we were bracing for it to happen to us.

    None of our pipes burst either, but I kept water dropping from one faucet and ran my dishwasher in the middle of the night.

    Because we still had heat and running water, we were able to host friends who were without.

    We were under a boil water order from Tuesday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. I thankfully had enough stored water for my family of 6 and a dog to drink. I boiled several gallons every day and set them aside just in case. I have several low tech methods to purify water and my neighbors have a pool if we had gotten to that point.

    Some of the highlights:
    - We really did ok. But I can tell you that hearbreaking getting reports from family and friends who were without power for days, only had an electric stove, and their propane grill froze (this happened to my brother in Dallas), and didn't have any water because they had to turn it off due to burst pipes. On the other hand, it was a huge blessing for us to not stress about food or water! I can't imagine the mental anguish of freezing temps, limited food, no water, and having a family to take care of.
    - As the updates came in, our church mobilized to help people fix their pipes. I was surprised at how many people didn't know how to turn off the water to their house. Men and women who were not to able to go into work were able to help others out with pumbling, sheetrock removal and patching, and delivery food/water. Food was shared. Bedrooms were given to families in need. The hands and feet of Christ were seen and felt this past week!
    - It was good for me to see how much water my family used for future disasters.
    - It was difficult for people to find gas. Either there was no power or the tankers hadn't refilled the tanks. Thankfully we always keep our tanks half full and we didn't really have anywhere to go.
    - I don't know what the stores looked like because I didn't need to or want to go to one of them. We were prepared on that front. But I did hear from friends that the lines stretched outside around the store and that there was very little on the shelves.

    Sorry for the long response. It was a crazy week. Thankfully it is 73 degrees and sunny today. A beautiful day that causes me to thank our Father for His many blessings.

    P.S. One of my sons serves at the local food pantry. When I picked him up today, the crowds reminded me of when the lockdowns first happened back in March. Lots of families!

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    1. What I don't understand is why people didn't have basic canned fruit, peanut butter, cracker, bread and such. I heard there was a week's nitice, didn't people believe how bad this storm was going to be. It must have been horrible to have no heat, no water, your pipes burst and then no food.

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  2. I live an hour outside San Antonio, 10 minutes outside of a town big enough to have a Walmart and a couple hardware / farm / ranch stores. We were without power and water for three days or so. We have a solar panel, which kept some lights on. We cook with propane, which has been hard to come by all winter but we made it through, and have experience cooking over fire, and a woodpile to do it with if that became necessary. We have a wood stove and live in a very small space, so we were ok for heat. Yesterday temps neared 80 degrees, and the six inches of snow that fell two days before turned into sticky mud pretty fast.

    One day I hope to live further out from town. Meanwhile: "Culture matters." Absolutely. That's one reason I like it here. I'm a hermit and couldn't speak for everyone even if I did spend time with big crowds, but our neighbors have been very respectful and kind, and pulled together nicely during the storms. Your follow-up comment, I think, deserves comment. "Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do. Not everyone can afford to live in an upscale zip code." I don't know that "upscale" is the right word. I've lived in an upscale zip code or two, and I much prefer it here, where signs of great poverty aren't hard to find. There are poor neighborhoods full of drugs and crime, and there are poor neighborhoods with good people living meagerly. I gather from your other posts, which I've followed for a few years, that you know this as well as I do, and I certainly don't mean to sound argumentative or accusatory.

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    1. Agreed. That was not my intent. I appreciate the correction.

      - Patrice

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  3. Patrice, please consider revising this part of your post: "Culture matters. Don't end up in a community without morals or ethics when it all hits the fan. (Easy to say, not necessarily easy to do. Not everyone can afford to live in an upscale zip code.)"

    Equating morals and ethics with an upscale zipcode is just wrong, and I'm sure you know that.

    Plenty of folks in downscale locations live exemplary lives of morals and ethics.

    I do, however, agree that the caliber of your neighbors can make or break your survival/prep plans.

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    1. Agreed. That was not my intent. I appreciate the correction.

      - Patrice

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  4. I live in East Texas, and there was no electric from very early last Monday morning until about 11:00 a.m. yesterday morning, meaning no electric for almost a week. I had plenty of water stocked for my chickens, dogs and myself. I had plenty of food for all. I had LED candles and lanterns. I have a propane range that provided the heat, but only enough to keep from freezing. I have a Mr. Heater that I loaned to neighbors who ran out of propane in their big tank. The coldest night was six degrees, but we all survived the rain,ice, snow, and cold temps. My growing up in Missouri years ago helped get me thru the past week. Yes, I'm a prepper and having items already stocked was immensely helpful, plus I live in a very rural area. The past week has also helped me plan for items to obtain for any future hardships, such as a heated waterer for the chickens, etc.

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  5. Post Alley CrackpotFebruary 22, 2021 at 5:07 PM

    "... then Seattle disintegrated into a hot mess of anarchy ..."

    This tendency was observable by anyone paying attention in 1999, but it looked like Seattle was going to dial back the insanity during the early to mid-2000s, especially with a city government that didn't mind having a strong police presence to help people remember their manners.

    But since 2013, I'd have to wonder what anyone would want out of Seattle other than a cheap U-Haul rental toward anywhere away from The Left Coast.

    My move was anything but cheap.

    Now even Miami's manifesting the same kind of crazy that Seattle's had brewing for over twenty years, although surprisingly it hasn't turned into a Cuban revolution in South Florida.

    What's the point of these tales?

    Don't take jobs in Leftist cities unless you really want to be surrounded by crazy Leftists.

    Don't live in or near Leftist cities unless you really want to be surrounded by crazy Leftists.

    You and your husband figured this out, Older Daughter's now learning this, and eventually people with the right survival traits get it even through all of the thick cultural smog.

    Mad Max on Brickell Avenue scenarios weren't really appealing to me despite sometimes deep down liking an honest war zone when the veneer of lies gets too thick.

    But for too long, I thought co-existence was preferable to fortification and distance.

    That's very obviously changed over 2020.

    The Left tries to sell people, especially younger people, on the benefits of the cities, but all they're really doing is trying to convince themselves that they're not stuck in machinery meant to exploit their happy enslavement.

    Texas was a wake-up call that ignorant and plain foolish Leftist policies can even affect rural people because of the inter-connectedness of everything people rely on.

    When you understand that your economy is ruled by the illegitimate, the ignorant, and the belligerent, you stop taking the status quo ante for granted as something you can "dial back to".

    We are not heading into Heinlein's "crazy years" so much as into newly unprecedented times.

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  6. We are outside of Houston and have learned a lot. We are going to reach out to our neighbors more - gotta have people to depend on close by and people to share with when we have plenty. A wood fireplace is good for ambiance but rediculously UNhelpful for heat. Oil lamps were helpful. We had water, food, and fireplace wood on hand but nothing that would be a good longer term solution. We are so glad we were as prepared as we were but there is more that we wish we'd had - a little stove that would have heated the house and that we could have heated food on top of would have been a game changer.

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  7. We live in almost the middle of rural Texas. We lost power on Monday at 5:00 p.m., prior to that our electric had been going on and off about every hour or so, then it just went off. We had filled the tub with water, and about 15 gallon jugs of water. We had plenty of food, candles, flashlights etc. The thing that I believe kept us and our dogs alive is we live in a 120 year old farmhouse with a small wall propane heater. When we remodeled this house we almost had it removed, thankfully we didn't. The coldest was -0 and -15 wind-chill. Inside with the propane heater we were still at 48 degrees. We have been without water now for 7 days and expect to be for 2 more days. We also have a generator to run small appliances. What we didn't take into consideration is that once the 25 gallons of gas were gone, it was really hard to find. He had to travel 30 miles to a town that had electricity to operate the gas pump. All in all, I think we did pretty good considering but will try and be more prepared in the future.

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  8. One note from folks I know on the ground in Austin: the grocery store shelves were stripped. For days on end. And even then, things were stripped down in the evenings.

    The "3 days without deliveries and cities break down" is absolutely true.

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  9. We live in Texas, roughly an hour north of Houston. We experienced more snow than I'd ever seen in my 40+ years living in the south. Our above ground pool froze thicker than 4 inches; we got tired of trying to go deeper just for curiosity's sake. We live 20 miles from the nearest grocery store so are used to having plenty of people and animal food on hand, so no shortages there. We have a propane cooktop so did not have to worry about basic cooking during our days of rolling blackouts. Plus, we have a small woodstove for heat. We did lose water for a couple days due to the water company's equipment freezing up and stopping. It affected about 5 surrounding towns. I had filled all water bottles, jugs and a tub for use just in case and that was a good thing. My kids are currently raising a batch of meat birds to show at the Houston Livestock Show and in trying to refill their water one son decided it would be wise to dunk a bucket from the chicken barn into the tub to get water. I'm still SMH over that, so we lost that as an option for drinking water. Fortunately, we have neighbors who have a well and they generously invited us to fill bottles, buckets and ice chests with as much water as we needed for us and the animals. We were able to help them in kind by turning off water to some of their pipes which had burst.
    We have city water back now but are still under boil water orders. Only this morning I remembered about our Big Berkey and am so grateful I picked it up a few years ago. It's working beautifully.
    I do wish I had gotten more chicken feed as the place we get it from is down to 30% operating capacity due to limited supplies of natural gas for operations and EVERYONE gets their show bird feed from them. So we are having to improvise.

    In the future, I'd have more water saved up and more wood chopped and ready. I'd also get more animal feed. We did great overall and probably ate better than usual because after the first hour in the snow that wouldn't even stick together to make a snowman or snowballs (what's the point then, really? I didn't know that was possible to have snow that wouldn't stick together, it was like dust but 6 inches deep) there wasn't much to do but to cook and eat. Plus, the cooking helped keep the house warm. 😊

    What is unknown is what, if any, fruit and nut trees have survived. All garden plants are mush. I'm hoping the asparagus I grew from seed 4 years ago makes some new shoots and pulls through.
    Almost everyone we know has water damage from burst pipes. Fortunately, ours did not break (and we do have pex and the others we know that did not burst also have pex pipe so there may be something to that).

    All in all, we did extremely well and I now KNOW that I would not want to live anywhere else. Our neighbors all pulled together and shared homes, water, food and showed generosity that I had hoped they/we would in times of trouble. I also know for fact now that I was not made for a cold climate. Give me sunshine and 90 degrees anyday over any type of freezing weather!

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    1. You now know the difference between a dry snow and a wet snow. A dry snow is pretty, but it drifts in windy weather and doesn’t stick together for making snowballs or a snowman.

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    2. I’m glad you edited the “upscale zip code” comment. I know people from all socio economic statuses, and there are all kinds of morals in both.

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  10. Life long Texan, here - it was less than ideal, for sure, to be without power for 3 days but Having lived through multiple natural disasters I’ll take the cold over flood, fire, and hurricane, All of which left us without power in oppressive heat, for weeks not days. How soon we forget! I will disagree with one of your disagreements - PEX is fairly inexpensive, can be stored in minimal space, and is easy to work with. Plumbing as we all know can decide to fail on an average Wednesday, not just during extreme conditions- with PEX lines can be replaced as needed/wanted and it’s a pretty easy process. It certainly doesn’t require an extra house to store or keep supply of, and is a prepping hardware gain, as I see it.

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  11. We are in Middle Tennessee and were without electricity for a week due to an ice storm. We never lost water, have a woodburning fireplace on the main level, and a gas fireplace downstairs so we were basically okay. Our biggest lesson: quadruple (at least) the amount of firewood you think you need! Oh, and get some insulated curtains on the windows you "hate to cover due to the beautiful views."

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  12. Thank you Patrice and all who commented. I have been looking forward to see how fellow Preppers fared during the snowpocolypse. I have kin folk in TX, some are preppers, some are not. It was hard on everyone, but naturally, preppers were somewhat ahead of the crisis, but still.....challenges arose for all. The best thing to come of it, from my love of family is this: My little brother and his wife have done a complete 'about face' and now, instead of scoffing, they cannot prep fast enough. I sighed a sigh of relief, and confess, I said 'I told ya so"

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  13. We are just north of Houston. It was a long week but we fared well without the power and the water. We had filled containers and a swimming pool for water needs. We had plenty of supplies overall. We have a pile of winter weather clothing which we stashed away for emergencies. We bought second hand and clearance sales until we had enough gloves, hats, coats, socks, etc. The pex pipes did not give us issues and we have basic supplies on hand should we have a leak, which is standard. Pipes can give problems at any point.
    We have natural gas into the house so we could cook/boil normally and heat to some degree. Erecting a tent in the living room and placing our two small children in down sleeping bags went a long way to keeping the small people warm at night. A bonus is it made the situation less concerning for our small children – an adventure and not a train wreck in the making. Our only worry was if the natural gas stopped, we would have had problems. We are exploring solutions in that direction.
    My single biggest worry was an elderly relative who lives four hours away in the Hill Country. He went without power, water and phone lines for a week. After a major surgery and living alone, his situation and safety kept me awake for days on end. I couldn’t reach him so we could only pray he was managing. Being stubborn, he refused to evacuate when the sheriff knocked on his door. He survived on saltines, sparkling water, Diet Coke and Canadian level winter gear. An aspect of readiness, I had not considered – what to do about far flung loved ones who may not be prepared and/or who may not be able to handle shifting situations.
    So long as we survive, asses our issues and make improvements, we are making forward progress in my book.

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  14. I have family outside Houston... they complained and complained about the situation... But their big issue was that their furnace has been broken since last winter and they hadn't gotten around to fixing it (I discussed this with them in December and prodded them to get it fixed - no dice).
    It makes me wonder how many other people who are complaining about the weather fared worse than they had to due to poor decision making...

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  15. We live in North Tx in a fairly small town with its own electric and water companies. We didn't experience any outages until the 3rd day with statewide rolling blackouts. Thankfully we have fixed rates so will also not get any surprises in the bills.

    We had plenty of food and a Berkey for our water needs.

    The only thing is, due to the terrible driving conditions, which Texans don't have enough experience to safely drive on, we were stuck at home with a sick kitty who sadly didn't make it. The local vet was closed all week and couldn't have seen us even if we could have driven.

    There are reports of lots of water damage from bursting pipes.

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  16. I live in a suburb just north of Houston. We lost power Monday afternoon, but it was only out for about 12 hours. Our gas fireplace kept us warm enough, and we were able to cook on our gas stove, but we learned we need are deficient in the lighting department. We never had a problem with the tap water, but we did come close to running out of bottled water (our tap water tastes like pool water, so we don't normally drink it). We had enough food to last through the storm, but I hadn't accounted for the time it would take for stores to restock after the weather improved. All in all, we came through just fine, but I think the experience has shown us the importance of being prepared, and that we can do better. As a side note, I grew up in North Idaho, and the storm that crippled Texas probably wouldn't have even gotten me a snow day when I was a kid.

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  17. All I can say is I will Never EVER build or purchase a home that does not have a wood burning, energy efficient, free standing wood fire stove.

    We have Kuma, made in Idaho of all American parts, the wood classic. It heats up to 2500 squ feet of living space and is designed to cook on.

    Must Have Wood energy. Regardless of climate.

    The powers that be want you stripped of that source because: you'd be independent of them.

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  18. I am about 20 miles south of San Antonio and just outside of a small town. I have about 30 acres and have been of the prepper mindset for a long time.
    I found some holes and improvements needed.
    List power for 5 days and then water too.
    I have a woodburning stove that works well when it's not 16 degrees outside.
    I found that the fire needs to be blazing for it to be effective.
    Which means getting up/waking up every 2 to 3 hours to attend the fire.
    When I built the cabin, I did not put insulation in the bedroom ceiling so I could hear the rain hitting the tin roof when I sleep. I am regretting that decision with this ice storm.
    The saving grace was I have two 1-K kerosine heaters. I only needed one to have decent warmth.
    I had some water and food, of course.
    I learned that I can bake potatoes in the wood burning stove.
    And, that spaghetti and meatballs are my comfort food.
    If, the worse case scenario had occurred like they said...about being moments away from losing the grid for months, I would have been okay, I think.
    As long as it's warm enough to where I'm not tethered to the woodburning stove, of course.

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  19. I am in North Mississippi and, thank the Lord, didn't have power or water problems after the storm. Although I have to replace my equipment barn because the last snow caved in the roof.

    While reading somewhere else, I learned about heat-powered fans. I understand they are for using with a woodburning stove. I have a fireplace and am going to see if it will work with that if the power is off.

    kathy in MS

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  20. Because of sage wisdom from Rural Revolution and similarl blogs, we took serious heed and had all our preps in place. We live in North Texas somewhere near the Red River, and took the brunt of the winter weather with NEGATIVE eleven degree weather and no electricity. Folks, my recommendation is to forego the modern technology like a generator and invest in good old fashioned technology, like a Cummingham wood furnace, a Pioneer Maid cook stove, kerosene lanterns to keep your pipes warm, and Aladdin lamps for light. Have at least three months of food on hand, appropriate clothing, and medicines as well. Do not forget to supply for the animals either. The best time to plan is when you do not NEED it! We have had to use our preps in as many years. (Twice) That should the a signal for those who still have holes in their preps, or not prepared, to up their game. It could be weather, or it could be a pandemic....up your game!! I apologize if this seems harsh, but there will be no one to take care of you, or rescue you, except YOU! Prayers to all.

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  21. Hi Patrice,
    I appreciate your blog and have been a reader for years. I live in Western Oregon and have some (not enough) preps in place. So when the recent ice storm was forecast here I was feeling a little smug and unconcerned. However I was away for about 10 days in another state helping a family member when the storm came and the power went out. My adult daughter was home. I had advised her to fill the bathtub with water and get some containers of drinking water together which she disregarded. We have a wood stove and stored food and several oil lamps so I thought we would be ok for a few days. It turned into 6 days. When we finally came home it was to a cold, damp house and no water and were still without power. My hubs and I rallied and went to a friend's house and got about 10 gallons of water to get us through the night and fired up the wood stove and began collecting rain water in a stock tank we keep around specific to the purpose. (rain is a fair bet around here) We are able to cook on the woodstove and have a campstove that we pulled out. MY failures were many and we are beginning to think of how to address them but in the short term not having adequate lighting was tough. I have several oil lamps but they are so dim I felt nervous getting them close enough to read by worried I might accidentally knock them over. I know you've gone over this before but I couldn't find the info. Would you consider summarizing your experiences with grid down lighting please and thank you?
    Soggy in Salem

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  22. Good commentary.
    We lived north of Saint Maries, Idaho from 2014 - 2016, which was a 3000' ft drop in elevation from the home we moved from, so gardening and prepping seemed easier. So easy in fact, the my husband and I had a "date" in CDA and didn't bother to check the weather. It was a beautiful sunny day and we headed north and west into "town", planning lunch followed by a romantic Costco trip. We left the very handy 15 year old to do his school work and watch the place.
    Things got hairy while we were in Costo. With two carts full, the announcement came over the speakers that no one could leave the store and take a cart into the parking lot, an associate would stay with the cart and help you load it as you pulled up. Wow, what had happened as we shopped and laughed at our first date alone in years? We checked out, and hubby went to get the little truck which had a topper and after waiting in line to get to the curb, we loaded up and headed south on hwy95. We witnessed a semi blown over south of CDA. Wind continued to blow and we were thankful when we turned east at Plummer. Unfortunately, as we drove along the southern edge of Lake CDA, we came to a long line of stopped vehicles and personnel indicating that the road was now closed and we'd have to return to CDA. Not to be deterred, we drove back to 95, headed north (past the overturned semi and the personnel attending it, with NOT ENOUGH hazard lights) and headed east on I90 to Hwy 3 and went south.
    We drove around multiple downed trees in the road and were very thankful they were not in places where there was no shoulder to drive on, only a steep incline to any of the many lakes along the road. A couple times, hubby had to move smaller trees that had fallen.
    We arrived home to an excited young man, who had ensured every chicken (about 50) were in the coop along with the rooster, all the cats and the dog were tucked into the house, the shop had been closed up and every loose item placed somewhere safe, grill on the porch, etc. He had even managed to move several pieces of metal roofing that had gone airborne, tucking them into the shop. He was unable to catch the enormous tarp that covered the haystack and decided he wasn't following it into the pond.
    We learned more from the experience, such as never leave home without checking the weather. Carry a chainsaw if you live in a place that the roads can be impassible due to down trees. My go to hay twine won't hold the enormous tarp.
    I failed to make an insurance claim on the lost hay, so I learned to not overlook that, as well.
    We moved back to the home in Wyoming that didn't sell and sold the place in Idaho. We have terrible storms here and high winds. We continue to educate ourselves, and if there's a chance of bad weather, we stay home, lol.
    Miss the beauty of Idaho but love Wyoming, so I have lost nothing...other than about 3 months of "spring, summer, fall" garden weather.
    Sidetracksusie

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