8/26/11

What to do for the hurricane?

I used to live in Florida, before moving to the promised land (New York, NY), so I know a thing or two (or five) about hurricanes. Every time one would hit, I would inevitably get the call from work to come over and help put plastic covers over the computers, and to generally get stuff off of the floor that could get flooded. Granted, they had double pane bullet resistant windows, but that's not the point. In the event of an actual breakage, and masses of flooding, you don't want your insurance company having any excuse to tell you that you didn't perform due diligence to protect your property.

Then I'd go home.

Anyone who knows me and my family knows that my mum (on average) keeps enough food in the house to last this and then next ten coming apocalypses (apocalpsi?), regardless of how long they take. I didn't have to think about those sorts of things in the past. Now, it's me and the husband living alone, and although I'll be off in DC with my family this weekend, there are a few things that I think that anyone who's preparing for a hurricane needs to have on hand.

1) Booze. Seriously. Nobody wants to be stuck indoors, and feel bored. Might as well have an excuse to party down a bit. When you see the thunder and lightning, and the winds whipping through, have yourself a drink. If you don't drink alcohol, take this as an excuse to get those awesome sparkling ciders or sodas that we've got peppered throughout the city. Even the Bodega by my house (which is very oddly stocked) in Washington Heights (OK, it's Inwood. I'm on the border, people!) has some rather neat sodas that are made right here in New York. This is a very good time to acquaint yourself with them.

2) Nonperishable food that will actually make you feel like you ate something. Yes, crackers are nonperishable. Yes, tortilla chips and salsa are nonperishable. However, after eating them, you don't feel like you've actually had anything. However, a nice peanut butter and banana sandwich will hit the spot. Jam is nice too, but I've never left the stuff out of the fridge for any length of time, so your mileage may vary.

3) Sandwich material, and a cooler packed with those little freezer packs. If you don't have those little freezer packs, freeze a few zip top baggies in the freezer, and use those instead. Get some tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, your favourite hummus, some pita bread, some regular bread, your favourite condiments, and keep them at the ready to pop into a cooler, should you lose power. Making a sandwich and eating it will fill you up more than snack foods. When my parents and I would go on long drives, we'd do exactly this, because it keeps a good long time, and it means that you don't have to worry about stopping off at a rest stop where the only vegetarian option is to go grazing on the grass that they keep outside.

4) Fruit, be it dried or otherwise. Bananas keep. Apples keep. Pineapples keep. Watermelon keeps, and is massively delicious. All manner of dried fruits keep rather well.

5) Nuts. I'm a huge fan of those giant bags of nuts that you get at Subzi Mandi in Jackson Heights. They have them very inexpensively priced, and will keep in the freezer for when you get power back on.

6) Water. In fact, freeze a few gallons before the storm hits, and keep it in your fridge, so that it keeps things cold in the event of a power cut.

7) A full charge for your mobile phone, laptop, ipod, headphones, and any other device that you can keep fully charged. Boredom sets in fairly quickly when you are trapped in your apartment for any length of time. This is also a very good time to introduce yourself to your neighbours, who may very well have that one thing you forgot to get, or wouldn't mind coming over to hang out when the winds are whipping through.

Aside from the usual stuff, like candles or flashlights or what have you, I hope that this list keeps you from getting too terribly bored. All in all, I find that it's best to be over prepared than under prepared. I can't remember which hurricane it was (Katrina?) that ripped through Florida, but it left us without electricity for the better part of two and a half weeks. I didn't have water for a week. Trust me when I say that I was not looking cute, but I didn't smell too terrible, because we'd though to fill our bath tub before the storm hit, and were able to take sponge baths in the dark.

Also, grilled vegetables give me PTSD flashbacks. Let's never speak of them again.

My gameboy (yes, I still have it) was one of the things keeping me sane when I'd finished reading every single book we owned. But the other thing was the bread (the worst possible mega chain brand you can find, because that sucker is filled to the brim with preservatives galore, and will keep through everything that could happen) and the gas stove kept me fed. For those of you without a gas stove, you can buy those little portable gas stoves at the H Mart in Koreatown. They're like $30, and are good to have on hand for any kind of emergency. Granted, it won't cook as fast as your regular range, but that's OK. Having a plate of piping hot home fries, some tofu scramble, and a bit of tea in the morning feels lovely after all that partying.

Please be safe, and relax! This is one of the few times you'll get to disconnect from the world at large. Enjoy a bit of it.
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