So I guess here is my report. I live close to Raritan River bay and we've seen 13-15 storm surge, in addition to huricane+ winds. In my town about four to five streets deep into the town the water was in people's living rooms and right along the river to the second story. People had to be pulled out through roofs and second story windows. Houses not 350 yards from mine had people wake up to discover they had water up to their chest and had to run out at midnight and fight the current to save their lives. I can see those houses from my porch, but being 15ft higher I had no water problems what so ever.
For the last week the houses on those flooded streets have been pulling out all their possessions and removing the inside walls from their homes and pilling them up on their front lawns to be picked up.
Like everyone else we lost electricity, and my house only got power last night after 6 days. Others in town may be a week more, because some genius at the power company decided that those substations along the river don't need to powered off when historic tides are predicted, and they caught fire and are a total loss, they are being rebuilt from scratch as we speak.
My cheap Champion 4000 generator has been well .. a champion. It has fed power not only to my house but the houses on either side of mine, keeping up refrigerators, lights, phone chargers, and to some degree heat. Most of the homes around me are older and have steam heat. Steam heating uses very little if any power but needs SOME to trigger on and off. In my case I had to have my electrician buddy rewire my furnace which was wired directly to the panel so I can plug it in. With the load we pulling from the smallish 3500 constant draw generator and the gas shortages, I was running my generator for about 3 hours, giving it a 3 hour break, and doing it again. At night I would turn it off around 9pm and let the residual heat and fridge cooling coast through the night.
All in all we got through it just fine, my house lost a couple of shingles, so I really can't complain, considering the devastation. Of course, food, water, etc where never an issue for us. Food preparation wasn't an issue as I have gas cooktops but I found out my stove being electronically controlled was out of use, I'll need to rewire it so I can run it from the generator. My neighbors were remarkably unprepared. They had maybe 2 flashlights, and 6 batteries each.
Other friends, using electrical cooktops and forced air or circulating water heaters obviously head it worse. I've lent out my camping stoves, propane bottles (big and small), propane heaters, etc. as I didn't need them an they did.
Gasoline was in issue for most, but I filled both cars before the storm, the generator was topped off, and I had my 3 5gal cans filled. Turns out that 19gal of fuel would have been just enough, but I will now own more cans, it was a bit close here and there, although I managed to refill 2 of the cans along the way. Once back in stock I'm buying more cans, even if I store them empty. I don't feel comfortable storing more gasoline then 3 cans in my suburban garage, but I'll have at least 5 more empty ones for foreseen events such as this one. If I don't use it, I can always fill my cars afterwards.
So what have I learned that I need to do better? I need long matches to light the stove, normally I keep lighters and ferro rods, and they both suck for the job. I need more fuel cans. I need a bigger generator and way to hook it up directly to the house. I need more 100ft extension cords, the 5-6 ones I have are high quality but 50ft. I need to assume everyone around me will be even less prepared then I previously thought, and that is saying something. I need more LED lanterns, I've used my 18v tool set battery powered ones, but recharging them was a failure as the generator fried my recharger (but nothing else). I need more paper bowls (not just plates) because doing dishes sucks. I need a lot of ziplock cheap food containers so when I give away hot food to people I don't have to worry about not getting back my good plastic containers. I need a lot more Stabil/Pri-G/something, normally I have just enough around to stabilize my gas cans but as I went through a lot of gas cans, I liked to have them all stabilized just in case the power came back on right now, and I ran out. Digital antenna's for my TV don't work for crap when you have aluminum siding, I need to figure out a better solution.
Oh, and eneloop batteries rock, but I knew that ahead of time.