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Adventures in Homeownership: what does emergency preparedness really mean?

After hurricane Sandy, this homeowner realized that she was not as prepared as she could have been. What does emergency preparedness really mean when you have an entire home to worry about.

Like so many others, we were “Sandy-ed.”

Our house has a mud room, with a storm door to the outdoors and a steel door to the main house. When Dave and I came home on Monday after a very long day, the storm door was wide open and flapping around in the wind.  I distinctly remember Dave saying, “Look, ANOTHER piece of siding blew off the house,” but to our horror, we discovered that the “siding” was a large chunk of our storm door. Half the door (handle and all) was lying on the ground, and the glass was hanging to the house by a thread.

We didn’t know what to do at first. There was no way to tie the door closed. How would we prevent wind and weather from getting into the house? Since we keep a lot of stuff like dog food, our recycling and random tools in the mud room, all I could imagine was all of the money that would be lost if multiple 40-lb. bags of dog food got wet.

Luckily, we had an old storm door that we had removed from the front of the house (a much bigger door), and my grand idea was to use it to block the door opening to the mudroom until we could install a new storm door. In all that rain, we removed the remnants of the broken door, nailed up the “replacement” storm door (securing it into the drywall in the mudroom instead of the exterior siding, so as to not put holes in the siding), reinforced it with the 40-lb. dog food bags and were good to hunker down for the rest of the night.

The bigger question I have been considering since then is what emergency preparedness really means as a homeowner. In addition to bottled water, canned goods, candles, lighters, flashlights and water for flushing, should we maybe have a good supply of heavy duty plastic and a few sheets of plywood? What would we have done if we didn’t have that old storm door lying around? (We weren’t in the middle of any major projects and didn’t really have any spare plywood sheets available.) And, what about tools? There are households that don’t even have basic things like a hammer, screwdrivers, electric drill, nails and screws. For the future, along with the other necessities that are suggested during emergencies, we plan to have a spare plywood sheet and some heavy-duty plastic in the garage and the batteries for our drill charged and ready to go (along with the lantern that we bought after the last major power outage, which was dead as a doornail this time around….)

I understand that we had it very easy compared to cities closer to the coast, and wish them a speedy recovery, but this experience really opened my eyes. We were not entirely prepared for Sandy, but hopefully will be more prepared for the next storm. I encourage others to really think about their homes and what they have available to deal with what nature throws at us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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