Jesse Willms: The East Coast Prepares For The Worst

Posted by Jesse Willms on August 26, 2011

Nature seems angry at the East Coast of America this week. First, on Tuesday, an earthquake struck that was strong enough to cause cracks in the Washington Monument.

Luckily, in that case, there were very few reported injuries – even though earthquakes are so rare in the region that nearly no buildings are built to withstand them, and quake prevention measures are near zero.

Now the region is preparing to be battered by nature again – this time in the form of Hurricane Irene. The category 3 storm is expected to make landfall on the outer banks of North Carolina on Saturday. From there it will engulf the coast from Washington D.C. and New York City all the way up through New England. Since Thursday there have been mass evacuations along   most of the affected areas, including the entire New Jersey shoreline – and parts of New York City may have to be evacuated.

New York has already declared a state of emergency in preparation for what is being described as a “once in 50 years storm.”

There is no way, of course, to assess the damage in advance, but many officials are distributing advice on how to prepare for the storm. As a public service, I’ve decided to pass on some of the more practical advice.

  • Take out as much cash as you can before the storm hits. If there are power failures, ATMs won’t work and companies won’t be able to process debit or credit cards. Cash will be king and you will want as much as you can have.
  • Purchase three days worth of canned, ready to eat food – non-perishable food – so that you can eat even if there is no electricity.
  • Do not open your freezer before or during the storm. Should there be power outages, keeping your freezer door closed will help keep cold air trapped inside so food does not spoil.
  • Stock up on bottled water. Officials are suggesting you have at least three gallons on hand for each member of your family.
  • Make sure you have at least a week’s worth of any prescription medicines you take on hand. Even after the storm has passed, it could take several days for pharmacies outside of larger cities to reopen and receive stock.
  • Purchase or locate a manual can opener.
  • Have a battery-operated radio on hand, so you can receive updates from officials during the crisis.
  • Also have a battery-operated flashlight on hand.
  • When the storm starts to hit, unplug your computer, television and gaming systems from the wall sockets. Blackouts can cause electrical spikes that can destroy their sensitive electronic parts.
  • Fill up your car with at least a half tank of gas in case you need to evacuate.

These are the basics – follow them and you should have a good chance of weathering the storm.