Prepare for disaster like it's all up to you
November, 2012

After getting in and out of the gas station in a few minutes, I felt just a twinge of sorrow for all the folks in New York who’ve been waiting days for a couple of gallons. But I got over it, as I’m sure they get over our occasional earthquake woes. Our worse case in memory, the Loma Prieta quake, put most of us out of commission for only a day or two. I remember finding a store the next day where I could grab a few batteries and candy bars before sneaking out a darkened door. Just kidding.

Beyond the unbelievable catastrophe and human suffering they’re experiencing in the now Rotten Apple, some of the ironies are downright exquisite. There were the hapless Feds, forever scolding us for using oil and gas, telling the panicked masses not to panic, and promising everyone that oil and gas will be here any minute. They missed a golden opportunity to convert everyone to green energy, or at least get GM to send down a fleet of unsold Chevy Volt electric cars — oh, never mind. Then there were the union Neanderthals, astonishingly chasing away volunteer crews from places like Alabama because they were non union. That one still blows my mind. Throw in Mayor “Big Gulp” Bloomberg’s lame attempt to hold the NYC marathon anyway, to make people forget their pancaked houses and be proud to be New Yorkers.

Which brings us to disaster preparedness. Take a good look, Salinas, what have those people in New York been begging for the last couple of weeks? Food, water, clothes and fuel – followed by guns and ammo. It’s not hard to store some of those things for yourself if you’re just willing to think of the unthinkable. There are plenty of community organizations that can help you get what you need, including the Fire Department, hospitals and churches. You can find everything at your grocery store, big box stores or online. Just buy a little extra and put it away. Of course, none of it will do much good if your house gets flattened and you can’t get to your stash. So, if you can, make it accessible from the outside.

Ever wonder how far a tsunami can reach? Just ask Santa Cruz if you can ever be too far away from an earthquake, say, in Japan. We’re 10 miles inland but there’s not much between us and the ocean, which doesn’t bode well if every town from Carmel to Capitola will be looking like Atlantis. Then again, it wouldn’t much matter if the earth just decided to split along the Salinas River and tip us all into the brine. Great visuals, if nothing else.

How long should you plan to stick it out? Well, it’s been two weeks and many thousands of New Yorkers are still desperately hungry, freezing and homeless. It’ll take years to get things back to “normal.” How long will it take to drain the salt water from the subways, scrub out the slime, alligators and Godzilla eggs, then replace all the equipment? How long would it take to rebuild your neighborhood?

Bottom line: your first line of preparedness is you, and you can do something about it today. Then, make sure your loved ones and neighbors will be ok. When disaster strikes, stores and gas stations will be closed or destroyed, there won’t be any power or cell service, and your food will spoil. The government will be along in time but they’ll mostly be getting their pictures taken hugging sobbing victims. A week later, FEMA will hand out forms and tell you take a number. Maybe having a little Prepper in us isn’t such a bad idea. Some dried food, water and fuel could come in handy when the Big One hits or a really big storm turns Salinas inside out. And that could happen any minute.