So my series on disaster prep obvious did not get wrapped up in September -- hey, I've been busy -- and when I managed to grab some time, a hurricane struck the tri-state area and horrific things happened and telling y'all what to put in a home emegency kit seemed creepy and opportunistic.
People who don't live in safe neighborhoods don't want to leave their houses because they might lose what posssessions they can't carry. People who don't have access to reliable transportation can't leave ahead of a storm. People who can't afford to take off work and get out ahead of the storm get trapped once the waters start rising. People who have nobody with whom to stay when their residence loses power hunker down and freeze in place. People who don't have a decent web of interpersonal connections have nobody to help them leave, nobody to take them in, nobody to notice they're missing.
Back during maternity leave in early 2011, I checked out James Wesley, Rawles' (the comma is indeed in his name) How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It, which naturally led to me being sucked into the wormhole of survivalist blogs. This was back before these folks began rebranding themselves as "preppers."
The common themes of this subculture are another post for another day, but what's relevant to this blog post is how privilege was taken as a given. Of course you'd have enough land to support yourself. Of course you'd have enough storage space to stash a decade's worth of supplies for life in the afterscape. Of course you'd have the money to outfit yourself for the collapse of the gold standard/the evaporation of all crude oil on the planet/the eruption of the caldera under Yellowstone Park/the moon veering off-orbit.
More than 80 percent of U.S. residents live in cities now. Know what is generally not a feature of urban living? Spacious apartments. Or, in some places, car ownership. A lot of what you'll read in the prepper literature presumes a certain type of life that is not reflective of where we as a country are headed. So that means that even motivated people might find it tough to find useful information on how to prepare for the worst.
With the holidays upon us, we're calling it on all house-related improvements for 2012. We took possession of the house in late July. Here's what we've done in the intervening four months:
1. Replaced Mom's water heater and swapped in copper pipes for the PVC pipes that were there.
2. Installed a garbage disposal and new, pull-down faucet in our kitchen.
3. Put in a new GFCI wall socket in the kitchen for our fridge.
4. Sanded down, primed and painted our kitchen cabinets, then lined them.
5. Scheduled the installation of a new front door.
6. Refloored all but the bathroom in our house; installed hardwoods in Mom's house.
7. Installed new baseboards in our house.
8. Bricked up our incredibly hoopty chimney.
9. Demolished the 1950s-era brick facing and "built-ins" around the fireplace (discovering the original fireplace in the process), and knocked down two hoopty-looking bulkheads built into bedroom and the hall.
10. Painted Mom's closets, bedroom and bathroom.
11. Repaired the windows so they opened for the first time in 50 years.
12. Replaced the original galvanized pipes leading to the kitchen sink.
13. Pulled down/uprooted enough greenery to fill a 96-gallon compost bin twelve times.
It will not surprise anyone to learn that 2013 will have a shorter t0-do list.