6 Nov 12

Disaster aftermath portrait, from a friend in NJ:

“My sister lives in NJ, a mile from the ocean. I’m here assisting/protecting her now. There is an inlet near her neighborhood that connects to the ocean. It swelled and overflowed with storm-surge and tides, flooding the entire neighborhood. Water levels varied, depending on proximity to the inlet. Worst-hit homes were flooded to their second story, with only the roof above water. My sister’s place came out pretty well, at least in relative terms! Two feet of water in the first floor. Basement entirely flooded.

They will have no power for at least three more weeks. They have no heat, no water. Toilets don’t work. Gas is intermittent.

Police are in high profile. There are uniformed officers at all the gas-stations and main intersections, directing traffic. Street lights and stop lights are all non-operational.

The entire area looks like a scene from Afghanistan! Debris everywhere, and all along streets, on both sides, there is a continuous pile of downed trees, branches, wire, furniture, electronics, carpets, torn-out drywall, all destroyed by seawater. It is a heartbreaking sight!

Here is was is unavailable:

Generators, heaters, kerosene, extension cords, power-inverters, guns, ammunition.

In addition, there is no cell-phone service, no operational land-lines, no internet access, anywhere.

There is no way to summon police nor fire fighters, other than personal contact.

No restaurants, grocery stores, nor drugstores are open, nor are any other retail stores. Only a few gas stations are open, and supplies or fuel are extremely limited.

Bottom line: If you did not have it before the storm, you are not getting it now!

There is a 7:00pm curfew. Police are selectively enforcing it in an effort to keep looters out. When out and about, you are asked to show ID in order to prove you belong there. You can leave, but you may not be able to get back in.

Looters are out in force! They send ‘scouts,’ mostly young girls with cell phones, not to communicate, but to take photos of stray belongings, open garages, open doors, back yards, behind fences. Their accomplices can then make the most efficient use of their time when they return after dark. Residents and police are continually chasing them away.

Generators can be heard running day and night. However, they need to be chained to something substantial, or they are stolen more or less instantly!

A rental truck showed up, displaying California tags. The driver and one passenger were selling $600.00 portable generators for $2,000.00. Transactions were all in cash. They sold every copy they had in less than a day. No questions asked!

Local churches have rallied a volunteer corps to assist residents with blankets, MREs, water, and labor in cleaning-up. Good people!

When this next storm hits and dumps rain and snow on already devastated areas, things will continue to deteriorate. Nothing close to ‘normal’ here for many week, months!”

Comment: Once again, preparation in depth is a personal, individual responsibility of every one of us. When disaster strikes, there is no time to “get ready.” You’re ready, or you’re not!

Basics always first: food, water, warm clothing, cash, rain-gear, flashlights, a funnel, blades, medicine, hand tools, guns, ammunition, all instantly portable. Everything else may have to be left behind!

This thin veneer we call “civilization” is a good deal thinner than most of us think! Complete societal breakdown is never more than seventy-two hours away.

“I don’t know the secret of success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Bill Cosby