A weekly blog, by author Leslie K. Howard, filled with spiritual, uplifting thoughts to help you get through your week

Posts tagged ‘Survival’


Surviving The Storm

SandyFive years ago the east coast of the United States was attacked by Super Storm Sandy. Millions of people were without power for over a week.  Thousands had to evacuate and many lost their homes to the storm surge. According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control) there were 117 death associated with Sandy.  Parts of the New Jersey coast were devastated and some have yet to fully recover.

The Howard household had its share of damage; A very tall Pine tree fell and pulled up most of our back patio while simultaneously destroying our fence.  We suffered roof damage too but all in all, it was minimal and could have been costly had we not good insurance.

So here we are March 14, 2017 on the precipice of another storm.  This time we are getting a blizzard with snow expected to reach up to 2 feet with high winds and bone chilling cold.  And again the Howard’s have to get ready. So I thought this would be a good time to share with you how we got through Hurricane Sandy and how we plan to get through this monster snow storm.

Preparation:  In the book of Matthew the bible tells the Parable of The Ten Virgins who were waiting for the Bride Groom to arrive. Five were ready and five were not.  While the first five prepared themselves by filling their oil lamps, the other five, didn’t. The ones who had oil told those who didn’t to go and purchase some from the market.  While they went shopping the Bride Groom arrived and took the prepared virgins into the banquet. The unprepared virgins were not allowed in. Moral of the parable….  Always be prepared.

Before you send me letters, I know the story is about preparing for the second coming of Jesus and not for a storm.  However, we can apply the story to our everyday lives.  With that in mind, let me share with you how my husband and I prepared for Sandy.

I used to run the food pantry at our church.  I’d shop and stock our shelves with food  for people in need.  I tried to get items that were easy to prepare and would hold them over for a few days.  So as I went to the market to get provisions for our home, I shopped for many of the same items.  Because of the intensity of the storm we wanted to be prepared for a week without power. Later I’ll share my recipes with you. Here’s what we purchased.

  • Cash (we didn’t purchase cash. LOL)
  • Locate nearest shelter
  • 7 Gallons of Water (drink 1 gallon per day)
  • Instant oatmeal (individual packages)
  • Canned chili with no beans
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Instant Rice (The boil in bag kind)
  • Chunky Beef Soup
  • Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Progresso Chicken and Rice Soup
  • Canned vegetables (Green Beans, Carrots, Corn)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned Corned Beef Hash
  • Canned Chicken
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Crackers
  • Tea
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Canned peaches
  • Rasins
  • 24 Sternos
  • Sterno Chafing Racks
  • Aluminum Pans
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Paper Plates
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Disposable Cups
  • Toilet Paper
  • Napkins
  • Garbage Bags
  • Refill any prescribed medicine
  • Tylenol (or OTC pain medicine of your choice)
  • Cold or Allergy Meds
  • Toothpaste
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Baby Wipes ( Do Not Flush Down Toilet)
  • Blankets
  • Comforters
  • Battery Operated Radio
  • Flash lights
  • Old Brooklyn Lantern
  • Candles
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Batteries
  • Manual powered Can Opener
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Fill Bathtub with water (have an additional bucket or two filled with water)
  • 1 Brick

Hurricaine Sandy hit New Jersey October 29th  around 8pm.  Our power went out during the night but we were able to sleep in our bedroom for two nights. Our children were grown and living with their mates so it was just Hubby and me.  After the second night we could no longer sleep upstairs so we moved our living quarters downstairs.

We bundled and snuggled together laughing, talking and enjoying  our candle light.  We put our sterno racks on the dining room table filled the aluminum trays with water and lit the sternos.  This was our source of cooking and heat.  When we finished cooking we poured the hot water into the bathroom sink so we could wash our bodies. We refilled the trays with water for heat and hot beverages.

After a day or so our home was getting too cold.  Before the storm hit, we sat down and discussed our survival plans. We made our grocery list, went shopping for anything we didn’t have in the house.  We located our local shelter just in case we had to evacuate.  It was then that I suggested to my husband that we block off one room for our living space.  As the child of a single mother, (with little money) there were a few times when we had no power because the electric bill wasn’t paid. We had to huddle in one room using heavy comforters to cover the doorway, and lit the gas oven for heat.  My husband wasn’t seeing it my way and our discussion got, should I say, “rather heated”.  For some reason he just didn’t agree.  His main concern was if we didn’t allow the heat to move through the house that the pipes might burst.  I understood that but I also knew we had to stay warm.  It’s at times like that a girl has to really pray… Hard!

Well, all I can say is by day two, Girlfriend was much too cold;  and so I got the ladder, hammer and nails and proceeded to secure the comforters over the stairway leading upstairs and the area separating the living room from the dining room.  (after a few heated words, Hubby began to help)  We moved our heating source to the coffee table and we got comfortable and cozy on our living room sofa.  To ease his concerns about the pipes, we allowed the basement and the upstairs bathroom faucets to drip.  Problem solved.

Going to the bathroom was an ad-ven-ture.  Boy was it cold….  I own two pairs of adult footie pajamas and how I wish they had those old-fashioned “Trapped Doors” on the backside.  Needless to say our bathroom activities were as brief as possible.

We filled the tub (and a few extra buckets) with water, just in case our water stopped running. We’d need water to flush the toilet.  We had extra garbage bags just in case we ran out of water and we had to use them for … Ahem… body waste.  Thank God it didn’t come to that.

In the mornings we had instant oatmeal, fruit and tea or corned beef hash.  For lunch we had soup or tuna and crackers. We snacked on peanut butter, crackers, raisins or fruit. And dinner was a gourmet delight.  I prepared spaghetti dinners using Ramen Noodles and the Chili mixed with tomato sauce.  Add a can of string beans and you’ve got a meal.

Another favorite was the Chunky Beef Stew over Instant Rice with Canned Carrots on the side.  Yum!  As a rule, we stay away from canned food and instant noodles but these were desperate times.  We did not use the flavor pack, just the noodles.  When preparing canned veggies, pour off the pre-packaged water and rinse with clean water.  That will eliminate much of the salt.  We drank plenty of water to keep our bodies flushed.  But that meant more trips to bathroom… Brrrrr….

We lived like this for seven whole days.  We’d take turns sleeping so one of us was awake to keep an eye on the fire. Safety First!  When not cooking and not having to be concerned about heat we could relax, read, play cards, sing and act silly. We reminisced about our family when our children were small.  We imagined what our grandchildren would grow up to be. We talked about our future and thanked God for our present.

Everyday my husband would suggest I go to the shelter while he’d stay in the house just in case there was a problem with the pipes. I refused.  I just couldn’t leave him.  I did go to the shelter twice to charge my phone and computer but came back home.  I saw a few neighbors there.  It was very crowded but the community volunteers did a great job keeping the people comfortable.  They had a generator so they could cook meals, show movies and of course allow all us tech hounds recharge our devices.  I really appreciate my community.

Cash came in handy.  Because of the power outage, the ATMs were not working.  Everything was on a cash bases.  At one point the car needed gasoline.  Because the refineries could not process the oil into gasoline New Jersey instituted a gas ration.  Cars with license plates in odd or even numbers could only get fuel on certain days. People not only needed gas for cars but also for generators. As you can guess, the gas lines were long.

On the seventh evening we decided if the power wasn’t restored by the next day, we’d go to the shelter.  Praise God for day eight…. “Then There Was Light”!  We survived!  By the His grace, we survived!  I think Frank and I grew closer as a couple.  Our love was tested but we worked together and with faith in Jesus, we survived the storm.

So now, as I type this blog, the snow has begun fall.  We are expecting another storm. This time up to 2 feet of snow with blizzard conditions are predicted.  We are well prepared with food water and the Word.  My husband is slouched on the other end of sofa, asleep.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I stepped out on to the sun porch to check the weather, and he growled “Close The Door.  It’s Cold!”…. And so, it’s begun.

I hope my little story helped.  Next time a storm comes and your power goes out use some of my tips.  Let me know how you do.

Oh before I go, aren’t you curious about the brick?  Well, let me share.  One night I got sick of sleeping on the sofa and was determined to sleep in my own bed.  I went to the backyard over by the garage and picked up a nice red brick.  I washed off the mud, wrapped it in foil and let it sit in the sterno heated hot water.  I let that brick get good and hot.  I then wrapped it in a few towels and placed it in my bed.  While I washed up and brushed my teeth my bed was getting toasty warm.  When I got under the covers I felt like Goldie Locks.  Ahhhh… Just Right.  I put the brick at the bottom of the bed to keep my feet warm and I was toasty all night long.

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