“Another week of this and it’ll be full-on Thunderdome out here.”

Hurricanes are pretty much made of suck.  Even when you live in an area that gets them on a regular basis, and so are in theory ready for them, having one come visit is a guarantee that things are going to be crappy for quite some time.

In New York and New Jersey, where hurricanes generally don’t show up and where far too many folks have little concept of preparedness (and far too much concept of “The government will fix it.”), Hurricane Sandy has led to drastic coastal damage, power outages, transportation shutdowns, no groceries and no gas.

Again, this is nothing new in hurricane country.  The storm surge washes out roads; the winds knocks out power.  The power’s out, the pumps don’t work.  Gas is hard to get.    No roads, no trucks to the grocery stores.  Heck, I live 200+ miles inland, and if a storm’s brewing, I’m checking my gas supply for any empty cans that need  to be refilled and making the legally obligated bread and milk run at the local grocery.  Been there, done that.

But up north, Hurricane Sandy led to mile-long gas lines, reports of police with drawn weapons, guarded gas tankers and folks bringing out the gats at the gas station.  (How that last happens in the mostly disarmed People’s Republics is still a mystery to me, but that’s a different subject for another time.)  These are things that aren’t normally seen in hurricane country.  A Category 1 hurricane is dangerous and it causes damage, the unprepared are caught short as always, but this?  Not in my experience.  Within a week or two, everything except NC 12 is generally back in working order for the most part, and 12 is at least passable.

This has big implications for those of us who do prepare.  Look at your neighbors’ homes, and consider how many of them have backup power and more than a few days of food.  How many have any stored water?  I read a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall (she lives in NYC) that one of her friends on Staten Island is “living on Halloween candy”.  Really?  This storm was forecast for days and you never considered a trip to the grocery store as a good idea?

These are the people you’ll be around after a disaster.  These are the people who are going to notice that you’re dry, fed, maybe have electricity–and they are without any of those.  Much speculation on the various preparedness forums centers on what will these people do?  What will you do?  Do you have some obligation to help them?  Will you be able to–did you store extra for this eventuality?

These are security questions you’ll need to answer for yourself.  Obviously, if you’re in an urban area, your needs and ability to prepare in depth (and these things take in-depth preparedness) will be different from someone in a suburb or a rural area.  Guns and ammo may be a part of your plan, as might storing additional food (“Hey, I can offer you a bowl of pinto beans–just sit down right here down wind!”).  Keeping a low profile–maybe not using the generator is a better idea than sitting in the AC eating brunch while your neighbors stew–might be a tactic to consider.

Just consider it now.   You don’t want to be caught in Indiana Jones mode.

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