Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lessons From Irene

Just up the road from us. This is only a little intermittent stream that is washing the land away.

Another little stream. You can see where the water should be flowing in it's banks, but has jumped and is flooding the meadow and the road.

A damn broke, causing a river to flood a horse pasture , the road and a soccer field across from the pasture.

The river responsible for taking out Route 4 in Vermont. You cannot believe the debris left in the river bed.
 Early Monday morning.

Happy Wednesday, Friends! It's raining rather hard here in Vermont, and I'm praying we don't see any more flooding. They are starting to get progress made on the bridges and roads that we lost from Irene and there are so many who have damaged property or even lost their homes and farms.

The little stream that caused the below damage, just one day after!
Monday August 29, the land eaten away when the stream out grew it's culvert under the road.

The above pictures are from Sunday August 28, when Irene swept in with all her rain. These are all places that are very close to our home. And these were taken in the afternoon, when we had just started to witness the damage. If you saw any of the news coverage, then you know that there was much worse in nearby communities. At one point on Sunday, we thought that we might be stranded with all of these little streams threatening to take out the roads around us. We were blessed to wake up Monday and realize that we were not stranded, however little more than 2-3 miles from us, there are communities that were and still are.

No one in Vermont can believe the damage caused or the toll it has taken. But, there is a hard lesson to learn: prepare for the worst and most unexpected, pray for the best, be ready to do what is needed before, during and after an emergency.

I prepared before the storm by :
  • getting drinking water ready
  • gathering all of the flashlights, batteries and battery operated lanterns together in one central location
  • purchasing propane tanks for the camp stove and having that in a easy to get spot
  • taking stock of the pantry
  • planning easy meals that would take little work and fuel to make
  • baking the day before so that we had baked goods to supplement our store-bought bread supply
  • having a cleared out spot in the cellar should we have to move down there, with air mattresses, camp chairs and card tables
  • rain buckets were out to collect water for flushing toilets
  • having cat and chicken food and supplies to last for a while
  • putting important documents in our emergency binder should we have to leave (which I was NOT planning on having to do)
This may not seem like quite enough to some, and perhaps too much for others, but somethings are pretty much a matter of not needing to think about them because it is part of our everyday life. For example, we have ample firewood should we need to cook on our outdoor fire pit because we heat our home and hot water with an outside wood boiler.  We have an outdoor fire pit mostly for the novelty of roasting marshmallows and enjoying a campfire right at home. As I was thinking about having to cook meals without electricity, the fire pit seemed a glorious life saver! Our pantry is usually well stocked with canned fruits, veggies, cold cereal, oatmeal and powdered milk because having a stocked pantry is part of our lifestyle. We also have a chest freezer in the cellar full of meat, frozen fruits and baked goods. Yes, the meat could go bad quickly (although my in-laws live right behind us and have a generator that they let us use to plug in our fridge and freezer) but the fruits and baked goods would be handy and slower to go bad. We have a source of protein from our egg producing chickens. (And although it pains me to say this, if worse came to worse, we could butcher a chicken or two.)

 I've yammered on about what I did, what did I learn? That I have so much more to learn about! Yes, I have a fire pit and plenty of wood, but not really the skill (or pots!) to cook over an open fire. Also, I hadn't really thought about toiletries or household goods. And what if we had had to evacuate? I honestly didn't plan for this because we live high on a hill, but even so, we could have been stranded. Their are also other emergencies where evacuating is what needs to be done.

My plan know is to learn more about using our fire pit as an alternative cooking source, buying the necessary items for this, i.e. cast iron pans and pots. I also need to get working on making kits for the car should we need to leave our home.

Please forgive me if this post is rambling, I've been working on it all week between house work and a multitude of errands! It can be difficult to pick up your thread of thought from the day before.

Have a lovely weekend!


  1. Great post! Every hurricane we go thru I learn something new and this helps make the next one a little easier to bear. We now have Marie brewing in the Atlantic. I pray it stays well away from Vermont! You have had more than enough rain!

  2. You can get some nice cast iron accessories for cooking. Several times we have used the tripod to hang our dutch oven over the fire, and that was just cooking for friends, just because. It's a good thing to start doing because you'll want to practice up. Your photos really show how dangerous small streams can be, we tend to have flash floods down in the valley and it's amazing how fast the current can be from a normally lazy stream.