Blizzard Nemo rolled into Long Island with a whole new set of Preparedness Lessons than the ones we learned just 4 months ago from Superstorm Sandy.
Sandy was all about generators, gas lines, and staying warm. Nemo was/is about car kits, Get Home Bags, and having enough food on hand to get through a few days stuck in the house.
Nemo rolled into Long Island a few hours earlier than expected and dumped 20″ more snow than it was forecast to. When I was driving to work on Friday morning the forecast was for 6″-10″ of snow starting during the evening commute. Now Long Island is used to dealing with Winter weather but Nemo was one of those storms that rolls around once every 30-40 years for us. We can drive in snow around here (it isn’t like we are Southerners for Pete’s sake), but we don’t do snow tires or chains. While I was at work the forcast changed big time and I’ll admit we were taken aback by it’s fury and intensity! Businesses failed to close in time and schools didn’t early dismiss, this with the weather turning sour led to the Rush Hour from Hell. The rapid change in weather left many cars littering the streets, highways, lawns, parking lots, and sidewalks of Suffolk County. People were left with the choice of walking home or spending a cold night in their cars (these are the exact reasons I carry a Get Home Bag). All these stuck cars, trucks, buses, and yes, even the plows themselves caused the Mother of All gridlock come Saturday morning. Those plows that were still working were unable to get around all the stuck and abandoned vehicles, and the daunting task of snow removal was delayed even longer. Another problem was snow removal on Long Island for the most part is a cottage industry, the common snow removal vehicle is a pick-up truck with a plow, and they were overwhelmed by the amount of snow. They were out trying to plow but it was a lost cause. We would need to wait for the heavier State equipment to arrive on Sunday and Monday.
I guess the old adage that you are always prepared to fight the last war has a ring of truth to when it comes to natural disasters as well. In the lead up to Nemo I saw a Long Island knuckle down with a determination I didn’t think we had. Long Islanders filled their cars and gas cans, tested generators, sharpened chainsaw blades, and wiped the stores clean of milk and bread (who am I kidding, we’ve always done that at the merest hint of snow). Unfortunately those were the weapons to combat power outages, downed trees, and gas lines not stuck cars, collapsed roofs, or days stuck in the house.
The Lessons from Nemo
- Have multiple routes home. I ended up going on a tour of the the back roads of Long Island. It is a route I’ve had to take home in Blackout of ’04 and in a few past winter storms (Lineman are the schmucks who are out in all weather, so having a plan is just good sense). This time it meant the difference between getting home and sleeping in my Jeep. County Route 83 is my normal way home and it closed minutes after i got off of it.
- A Get Home Bag and a Car Kit are worth their weight in gold. A lot of suffering and Anxiety could have been relieved if people had a few common sense preps in their cars. Some water, a few snacks, and a sleeping bag could have kept people safe and warm while they waited the storm out. The contents of a Get Home Bag would have at least given people options.
- Food Storage is still a paramount concern during a weather event. Since we weren’t able to leave the house having food on hand removed a major stress point. I still find it a little hard to believe but I actually had to give the neighbor a loaf of bread. I definitely come down on the side of the more the better but an extra loaf of bread in the freezer and jar of Peanut Butter would keep you fed while the snow was cleaned up.
- Ibuprofen is your friend! I’ll be 40 this year and damn it the snow is just plain getting heavier, I’m enjoying a sore knee and back as I type this. I’m only half kidding about this. The number of slips and falls with all the ice and soreness from the extra physical labor helps make investing in some good first aid preps worth it. Plus the condition of the roads greatly increased 911 response times to boot!
Those are the Lessons learned from Blizzard Nemo, they were hard won here on Long Island so take heed from our plight, sometimes the Weatherman is Dead Wrong and you might be stuck on the road or in your home for a few days and only have yourself and your preps to rely on!
One funny side benefit of all the recent calamity is Long Islanders are turning into one hard bunch of Preparedness/Survival types, give us another storm and we will be Idaho East soon enough! Well, the residents of Suffolk at least, those from Nassau will always be a bunch of P*****s
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