I hope you are sharing this series, folks. People are talking about it, all over the Web, and I can tell that by the enormous number of hits the last four days, that people are looking for ideas, encouragement, personal stories……  They are scared and looking for answers, ideas, and direction.

   The news each night is filled with doom and gloom, and I hope you understand that is not my purpose in bringing all of these wonderful people and their stories to you.

   It is to stir in you an awareness of how things stand in our country.

   It is to bring to the surface that stubborn American spirit that brought so many of our ancestors here to this land, seeking freedom, health, fortune……..whatever.

    It is to encourage you and equip you to see where we are headed, and to get as many people aware of what they CAN DO to help their own families before they are caught in the midst of the perfect storm of crisis that are starting to swirl.

   And more than anything else, it is to tell you, that you are not alone.

   Did you hear me?
   You are NOT alone.

    We are all in this together, and if we work together, help one another, encourage one another, teach what we know and how we do things, then we WILL come out a better nation on the other side of this.

   Finally, it is to remind you that where your treasure is, there your heart also is. IN other words, if you put all your faith in YOUR ABILITY to provide, to store, to take care of those around you, you will sooner or later learn it is all an illusion. You can be as prepared as you can possibly be, for any eventuality, and you will find out you missed something. Or a lot of somethings. And some of those can be terribly costly.
That is why my faith and my trust and my hope relies not on anything that I can do…….but in Christ alone. I have been putting things aside for four years now, because the Lord laid on my heart that these times would come. I did not have an attitude of fear, but instead, followed the example of the ant, that does the work given it in season, and as it was provided for, it was snug through the winter. Instead of a spirit of fear, it was in obedience to what He laid on my heart that I began this journey. Just like Joseph in the Bible, God spoke to my heart, and no matter what anyone thought, I started this journey.

   And here we are.

   Let’s finish with the second half of Freda’s story, and honestly, if you don’t walk away from today thinking of a plan, and what you need to do, then I can only say I will pray for you. Freda is one of the most “think-ahead” kinda gals I am privileged to know in life….and even she had to go through some tough circumstances to see where she had missed the boat.
Get that cup of coffee, kick back….or better yet, break out the notebook paper (or Ipad) and take notes. And be sure to read what comes after at the bottom of the post.

Welcome back. Freda Bradley here again. This is part two of my experience with the Derecho wind disaster in West Virginia last week. If you’ve not read Part One, I strongly encourage you to do so. The mantra of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared” and that is what we all need to learn to do.
This installment will be what I did and what I learned from it.
   First I want to start with MEDICAL needs. A friend of mine has elderly and frail parents. None of their children live near them. Her mom’s oxygen was electricity dependent and her dad’s insulin was cold temperature dependent. They really required backups, but didn’t have them. My friend came down from Michigan to try to get them taken care of, but finding old fashioned oxygen cylinders in a disaster was almost impossible. Insulin was hard to replace..not due to availability but rather it was that the “insurance” wouldn’t allow her dad to have more on their dime. SO, my friend paid full price, and left the pharmacy with her dad’s insulin that her dad couldn’t afford. PLEASE make a back up plan for all your medical needs from the first aid kit to your oxygen pump or feeding tube pump. DO NOT depend on generators or your insurance plan. In this case, these folks could have died for lack of a backup plan. Be smart!
You also need a CORDED phone. By that, I mean one with the handset attached with a cord to the base and then to the telephone landline wire. Many of my neighbors had none and even after we got our phones back on day 4, they were unable to contact family/friends because they had no corded phone in the prep. Cell service is unreliable in these situations even in cities, and the President just signed an executive order saying he can take control of any type of communication at any time in a national disaster declaration, so you may not be allowed to use the cell towers anyhow. Be prepared!
I was NOT prepared for the brutal heat. What we did was to divest ourselves of any heat generating items including clothing. Natural fibers are best. Anything blended, polyester, or spandex is a heat magnet! Don’t use them. Light colors are best, and we often wet our clothing down to stay cool. Now is not the time for fashion. We also ate outside and cooked outside so the house wouldn’t hold any more heat than it already did. We had the ability to cook inside, but it was just too hot. Many people I know used their porches to sleep on. We did not, but the lower floors in your home are the best as heat rises. We also napped outside in the late morning/early afternoon IF there was a breeze. We have a huge maple tree in our side yard, so it was put to good use. Just the business of keeping cool was taxing, but I just kept thinking of those in Katrina, and our linemen and our service men and figured if they could all do this, so could I.
We had plenty of food in cans. I’ve not re-entered the canning/preserving world in earnest yet, so I relied heavily on canned veggies and meats. Well, I wasn’t prepared for the digestive upset it caused. We’re used to fresh/frozen veggies and organic grass fed meat. Needless to say, it was a good thing we had triple the amount of toilet paper on hand. This also made an additional issue in hydration to consider. Always get more TP than you need for just such an occasion, and keep Imodium on hand as well. Change in diet will change your system, but eating for nutrition is vital.
We used our store of Gatorade liberally after day 4. We found we really were expending more nutrients in sweating and the digestive upset than we’d realized. Gatorade was a lifesaver, but I had not stockpiled enough of it. Dry Gatorade is very hard to find around here, so I will be buying a case as soon as possible. We also missed condiments and butter flavor. I was very thankful for our herb garden during this just to change the flavor of the food. We found that we used many combinations that we’d normally not use just to liven up dull meals. We use a coffee press, which was good for coffee/tea in the mornings just to break the water routine. By mid-morning it was too hot for anything but water, though.
Boredom busters like board games are lifesavers. We played Yahtzee, trivia games, Life, chess, checkers, and cards all day. We are also voracious readers at our house, so books were a godsend. Thankfully, we’re not “technology people” so we could revert back to board games to pass the time. If you have small children, be sure to have a bag of “new” stuff (read: things they’ve not seen in awhile) to play with. Old things seem new again when you haven’t seen them lately. Sleep when you can. It passes the time.
Due to the intense heat, we needed lots more clothing and towels/washcloths than I’d planned on. Doing laundry without a good method for backup is backbreaking. I have a washtub and wash board, but it was still hard especially in the heat. I was fortunate to still have enough water to do laundry. Get a backup method and learn to use it. Also, you’ll need a clothesline if you don’t have one. Clean clothing and towels/washcloths are very important for hygiene. Keep an extra supply of things like Dawn dish-washing liquid, too. That can be used on clothing, as hand soap, shampoo, grease/oil remover, and any number of things.
My biggest error, I think, was that all my food and prep stuff were in one location within about 20 feet from one another. While I was in the cellar awaiting the end of the storm, it occurred to me that while we had a city water tap down there that was the only water source I had in that space. AND all my food was in the house above me and inaccessible. Also, there were no chairs in my cellar—huge error for comfort. For me, I’d not thought of things like the house collapsing from a tree (like happened in the next town over), or being stuck in the cellar by a limb or whatever. Normally, around here it’s an ice storm in winter, so I was prepping based on that. Here’s the error of that in practice—I hadn’t planned on the wind and brutal heat. Consider all season potential disasters and plan accordingly for the worst of each season. Even if you have to switch up some things from season to season, it’s worth it.
I honestly thought I’d have far more time than I actually did to gather up items to run to the cellar with. So, bug out bags are essential. We had just enough time to grab the cat, a couple of our solar lights, and the weather radio and that was it. So, take time to make those bug out bags and keep them easily accessible.
Finally, my favorite thing I’ve done is this: I use those little solar lights you line your walk with in the house. We put them outside all day, and bring them in at night. I use one as a reading light by my bed EVERY night. We use them as flashlights to get up at night; we use them as nightlights in the hallway. We began doing this as a way to cut down on electric and batteries, but we’ve decided that after this mess, they’re now staples in our home and in our cars. Well worth it. Each family member has at least one and we have a few outdoors we can bring in if need be. All my neighbors were jealous and are now on the hunt for some for themselves. Mine have on/off switches so I only use them when I turn them on. They were lifesavers and didn’t expend much heat since they were LED lights.
I learned quite a lot from this experience, and I hope this helps you out some. I have a document of things I need to improve on that Heather will make available as a file you can download and even print if you’d like. It’s clearly not all inclusive, but I must say….I was not as prepared as I thought in many areas. Even living with a family that works in the disaster preparedness industry, I was woefully under prepared because like most of you, I followed the guidelines for the 72 suggested hours instead of weeks. That could be deadly, so please prepare for the worst and hope for the best. For my family, we’ve used all this time of tedium to discuss what we will do moving forward. Overall, it’s a back to the past type of living in a disaster situation. If they did something pre-1880, then it would likely work now. So, we’re off to learn more about the old ways and what we can modify to work for us. I hope you find this helpful, and I’m sure Heather can forward any questions you may have on to me as they come in.**
   Freda’s File for Download can be opened by clicking the link below. As she said, I will forward any questions you have to her, but you can also ask in the comment section and I am sure she will reply. 🙂 I am blessed to have her as a constant support of this blog, along with a number of others who are very knowledgeable in this area. You can even just leave her a thanks—because this was an amazing post, wasn’t it??
 Thanks to all of you for stopping by, encouraging the posters this week, sharing your own stories, and emailing questions.
Next week we are going to be doing some follow up on all of this with a few Top Ten Do’s and Dont’s, as well as some simple suggestions of what you should do to get started coming up with a preparedness plan, stocking a pantry, etc. I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful weekend, and I pray you will keep your eyes focused on the hopeful…….not the hopelessness we are being fed every day in every news blip.
Many Blessings to you and yours,