Hurricane Sandy has definitely impacted us here in the Newark area. All across the city we felt the effects in one way or the other. Loss of power, heat, gas shortages, flooding, and spoiling food became far too common. Still, the question we can ask ourselves is, What lessons did we learn from this experience? How can I be better prepared if and when we experience something like this again? What can I do for the sake of my family so that we do not have to suffer the worst of it?
1. Communication is everything! When the worst parts of the hurricane started to roll in Monday night, the natural reaction was to call/text/tweet/email loved ones to see if they were ok. Did they have power? Did they have food? Were they home safe? Looking back now, wouldn’t it have been better to have been in contact with everyone over the weekend to see what their plans were for riding out the storm, then checking in on them quickly to confirm that all was well? Maybe even get together with family/friends at someone’s home if possible? In some cases, the scary part wasn’t so much the storm itself, but the lack of communication with loved ones for days after the eye of the storm passed. Next time it would be great to have a back-up (charged) battery for your cell phone and/or a wireless charger. Even if your cellular service was spotty because of the hurricane, something is better than nothing.
2. Let there be light! With the loss of power, one of the most irritating things was the realization of how conditioned we are to conveniences and electronics. How many times did you flip a light switch only to be reminded that there was no light? And if you didn’t stock up on candles (candles….not tea lights) you may have found yourself literally in the dark for the most part. Can you imagine if the power outage occurred in the dead of winter?? Oh, another thing: scented candles are nice for an hour or so. But if you’re stuck for three days without light, the smell of cinnamon spice candles can get to be too much…
3. Food is food is food! Yes, I know, the first reaction is to go into survival mode and stock up on soup, beans, and other non-perishables. However, don’t be so quick to change your eating habits. Especially if there is food in your refrigerator or freezer. If you still have a stove/oven that works on gas and not electricity, you can still fire it up and have great meals with your family. You can also use it as an excuse to try out new recipes! In the Gentleman Culture household, we ate well. Pancakes, bacon, shrimp & pasta, home-made fajitas, turkey wings, rice & beans, broccoli…ok, you get the point.
4. Share and share alike. Times like these are a great opportunity to share what you have with your neighbors who may not be as fortunate or self-sufficient. Don’t wait for them to ask for something. Offer what you have! Food, toilet paper, candles, blankets, your apartment, etc. It’s a great thing to give, especially when people are suffering. And it’s also pretty nice to be remembered as the neighbor who brought over a plate of food that one time when things got rough.
5. Have fun! Yes, I said it, have fun. We’ve become so accustomed to being satiated by electronics and gadgets for our entertainment that it may have felt like we were back in the dark ages…literally. But please, don’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe! Use the time with your loved ones and without distractions to enjoy their company! Hopefully, you’re all eating well together (see Lesson 4) and with a little creativity, you can all have a lot of fun together. Play board games, card games, charades (no really, try it), make up games even! You’ll soon see that without your cell phone crying for your attention or the TV remote begging to be held, you can just focus your attention on good times with good people!