Author Topic: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho  (Read 9778 times)

Offline JohnnyUtah

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AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« on: July 26, 2012, 11:42:22 AM »
Almost 11 full days, no power, boil water advisory, 100 degree heat, no rain.

On June 29, the majority of my state saw how a major SHTF event might go. We had a storm roll through of epic proportions. I’ve lived through hurricanes on the coast of South Carolina and seen tornados in southern Ohio, and let me tell you this storm was impressive. It had sustained winds over 75MPH and while it doesn’t sound as impressive as a hurricane or tornado, what makes it so, is that it sustained this strength through the mountains of southern WV.
 
I had been delayed at the hospital that night. Major trauma came in late and put me out of work about 40 minutes later than usual. I had about a half a tank of gas in the Jeep and usually fill up when I get to that point. It looked nasty outside, I was already late getting home to the wife and kids so I decided to skip it and grab gas the next day. Timing is significant because it takes me about 40 minutes to get home. Mass of the storm hit my house about 1935.  Had I left on time, I would have been on my road when all trees came down.
 
On the way to the compound, shall we say, shit got real. Funnel clouds over maple fork and mount hope. My Jeep was being blown all over the road. It was an effort to keep it upright in places. The closer I get to home, the more I realize, this is a significant event and power won’t be back on tonight.
 
As I near the house, there are trees down everywhere. I can get within 2 miles of the house before I can’t go any further. I grab the go bag out of the back of the jeep, throw on the poncho and start the run to the house to check on my girls. The main road wasn’t bad, only a couple of trees across. Once you hit my turn off, things were worse. There were 6 trees greater than 16 inches across the road in the last quarter mile.
 
I got home, girls were ok, roof had sustained minor, outbuilding still intact. The wife had candles going, flashlights and 9MM in hand. My wife did not understand until now why I kept “the caveman drawer”. The drawer contains candles, flashlights, batteries, matches, etc. Basically anything that has to do with fire or light.
 I knew this was going to be multi day, just wasn’t aware until Saturday how multi-day. Woke up early sat morning and assessed the situation. I didn’t get gas the night before and had only half a tank in a jeep that gets 19MPG. I had only 5 gallons in cans as I had just filled all the lawn equipment 2 days before. Generator had almost a full tank. Extra quart of bar and chain lube in the building. I have full size refrigerators and a stand up freezer, and enough dehydrated/canned/dry goods to last for plenty of time. I chose this house for its water access. I’m on a year round trout stream, and Im the last house in the county on city water about 600 feet in elevation below the water plant. Access to water was not a concern.
 
I needed gas. Reports on the radio giving only 2 open locations for gas, with minimum 2 hour lines and no guarantee of gas when you got to the pump. Luckily cell network was still up and I have a wide network of friends that are right outside the state lines. Sent out some messages that I needed gas, lots of it. (Needed gas for my brother with a new baby, my parents and grandmother, as well as myself) I get multiple responses that everywhere close is without power, Princeton has power but gas lines are just as bad because it’s the first place southbound to get gas and northerners heading for vacation are on empty or already out of gas.
 
A friend of mine from Wythevile VA responds that gas lines off the interstate are crazy but in town, he can pull right in. This was my ticket. I can make wytheville on a little over an hour and be guaranteed gas. I pull out at 0730, make VA, grab 55 gallons in cans, fill the jeep and head home. Once home, the neighbors and I cleared our road. 4 guys on saws and a backhoe still took all damn day. Thank god the neighbor had a back hoe or we would have been stuck in here until DOH came through on Wednesday.
 
Once back home, things really weren’t all that abnormal after the first full day. Other than the oppressive heat of 100 degree days, the wife and the kids did better than expected. I ran the genny enough to save 1 fridge and the freezer. Got my girls into a routine. We would have “camp out breakfasts”, mommy would read a story while I would prep the supplies for the day, we would play outside as I attempted to clean up the property, swim in the creek, dinner on the grill which consisted of steak and chicken from the freezer I couldn’t save, veggies from the garden. Hell, we ate better with the power and services out than we do normally.
 
Learnings

Power
-I have a genny, but not enough genny. The wife was hesitant to let me spend the 5K on a whole house system to run off of our propane tank. She is now on board.
 
-I had gas, not enough gas. I let myself get low. I was complacent. Like the guy that CCs everyday, then realizes one day that he has gone a week without one in the chamber. You thought you were good, when actually you screwed yourself.
 
-I can run refrigeration, a small ac unit at night for my girls, and a movie and tv for the girls before bed on approx. 3 gals a day. My little centurion generator is a beast.
 
-Slightly related, having a Jetta TDI diesel that get 50mpg is a bonus when others are waiting 2 hours for gas and you can pull in and grab diesel. Anytime we needed to travel to check on the family, we took the diesel.
 
-Chainsaws are your friend. Keep them in tip top shape, keep extra oil and bar oil.
 
Water
-I’m luckier than most. I chose this property for certain reason and water is one of them. National guard started showing up with water at fire stations on day 5. FEMA got to the area on day 9. God bless our troops, but don’t count on the govt. for shit, which some did.
 
-Water straight from the pipe is cold. C O L D. While I’m fine with a bearing sea shower, my girls are not. I filled up the tub early in the AM upstairs, let the water sit in the tub for the day, by bath time, it was warm enough for the girls to tolerate an actual bath.
 
-Grab yourself a gravity filter from Katydyn or platypus. They are invaluable on a boil water advisory.
 
FOOD
-If S really HTF, your refrigerator is useless. When the grid goes down and looks to be for a long time, cook everything you can, consolidate into 1 fridge and eat like King Henry.
 
- If S really HTF, your refrigerator is useless. Stock up on dry/canned protein/meat/milk. Stock up on comfort foods if you have kids. Fruit roll ups, granola bars, chocolate chips (chips hold better in heat in a dark room in a can)
 
-Gas/propane stoves and water heaters are your friend. They work when the electric doesn’t. Unfortunately my water heater is electric, but not for much longer.
 
-If you have any kind of spices in shakers, immediately replace the shaker with something with a sealed lid. Every salt shaker and our garlic shaker were solid from the heat and humidity.
 
-As my wife learned on the first day when I left for Wytheville, if its summer, cook outside, if its winter, cook inside. A propane stove puts out a metric shit ton of heat.
 
-Have back up propane tanks for grills. I luckily had one. My main tank went out on day 4.
 
SHELTER
-I highly advise clearing the area around your house. If there is a tree big enough to fall on your roof, It can. Folks up the road, their house is done. 150 year old oak uprooted and went right through the center. House is totaled, they aren’t coming back.
 
SECURITY
-Get a dog. A big Dog. During the storm, thieves stole 5 generators from just peple I personally know, a tractor was stolen, and multiple break ins. I have 2 GSDs on security detail. Knew the minute a neighbor was coming for a visit.
 
-Does your SO know the combination to your gun safe? I had tried to get mine to learn to open the safe for access to the 12g and the ARs, she never learned until now. She had her CC, but now knows she would like access to the 12g and the ARs if needed. She felt I would always be there, now she knows that I may not be there when shit happens.
 
PEOPLE
-I’m lucky to have some great neighbors. There are only 4 houses on your road. Some people don’t have great neighbors. Gennys were stolen, tractors were stolen, homes broken into, meds and jewelry taken. Get to know your neighbors by name, not by sight. Set up an emergency communication plan with your close neighbors. Establish an FRS channel you can go to in events like this.
 
-My parents and grandmother did great. Well, we had to remind my grandmother that she grew up in a tin trailer with no AC and no fan. After that talk she did great, before that she was a bear.
 
-Establish a routine with children quickly. They will adapt better than you will.
 
-After day 5, people became much less civil. Fist Fights over generators and ice, screaming matches while people were waiting in line. This is not the majority. Most folks around here helped each other in their neighborhoods, sharing what they had, making sure their elderly neighbors were safe and not hungry, but once out in public around people they don’t know, some people got desperate and began to lose their shit.
 
-I believe It all depends on your mental ability to cope and the people you are surrounded by. Those of us, who were prepared, treated these as any other day. Those that lived off of the govt or that lived day to day became panicked.
 
CASH IS KING. NO one cares how many divisible one ounce silver rounds you have in your pocket. Keep cash in your safe at home, keep cash in every car. I have 3 rolls of gold dollars in each car and cash in the safe. When the power is out, so are bank and credit cards. Goods are available...for CASH.
 
I would go for 3 months in the winter time before I do another week in the summer. I can make heat and I can store food outside, but living in 100 degree heat and over 80% humidity in the summer is the suck. WV never has that nice desert dry heat. Sorry for the book. Cheers,
 Johnnyutah.

Offline rustyknife

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2012, 11:47:58 AM »
+1 For a great post and lots of good, usable information.

Offline Nate

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2012, 12:36:21 PM »
Good info johnny.  I am glad to hear you and yours made it out of the shit storm ok.

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2012, 12:44:11 PM »
I'm glad that you and your family are alright.

Sometimes it's a real eye-opener when these things happen. It gives you a good idea of where your weaknesses lie.

Offline reefmarker

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2012, 01:21:18 PM »
Excellent info +1

Offline Greywolf27

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 01:28:52 PM »
+1 indeed!

My sweetie is in and has been in the Green Bank area.  She called me as the derecho was blowing through...
Being that this is a summer job for her, she was not prepared for the whole mess.  But she is awefully resourceful.

She was able to change accomodations, so that she had access to water, but there was a concern for a day or two.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2012, 01:31:14 PM »
Great write. Thank you for sharing. +5 from me, 'cause I can.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2012, 01:36:31 PM »
wow, thanks for the real life analysis of trouble.

couple of comments I have:

"but once out in public around people they don’t know, some people got desperate and began to lose their shit."
you act different when it is people you don't know, when it is not someone who can and will hold you responsible for your rude actions later.  We were at a farmers market, and my mom was buying apples at a crowded stand.  one woman got extremely rude about her turn, and turned around and snapped at my mom (who just happened to be standing there waiting her turn).  when the woman realized that she worked with my mom, she became embarrassed and apologetic, and all sweet and nice.  the difference?  mom could remember her at work and make life difficult for her rudeness.  same thing in this situation.

I agree with the 3 weeks in the winter - I was in Montreal in the '98 ice storm.  it was a crazy 2 weeks....

also, frivolous comment here, your handle "johnnyutah" but you are born and raised in WV.  so I am curious about the story there :)
 

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2012, 01:36:57 PM »

Offline TexDaddy

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Offline JohnnyUtah

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2012, 02:06:01 PM »
wow, thanks for the real life analysis of trouble.

also, frivolous comment here, your handle "johnnyutah" but you are born and raised in WV.  so I am curious about the story there :)

Readers digest, Best Dog I have ever owned I named Johnny Utah.  I got him shortly after point break and Speed came out with Keanu Reeves (keanu was nick named johnny utah in point break).  I always liked Keanu but thought he was a horrible actor and just counldn't get Bill and Teds Excellent adventure out of my head.
Anyhow, this dog of mine, Johnny Utah was also a HORRIBLE actor. When he was being housetrained, he would get up from your feet, walk a few yards away and take a huge dump in the house.  Immediately come back over, sit at your feet, and look at you with this look that just screamed "I didnt do it I swear!"  The poor acting with the addition of making me laugh earned him the name Johnny Utah.  Basically a tribute to the best companion I've ever had. 

Loved that dog, miss him every day.  When He passed, I had had him twice as long as my wife and 3 times as long as my oldest daughter.  Great pup.

Offline Greywolf27

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2012, 02:16:02 PM »
also, frivolous comment here, your handle "johnnyutah" but you are born and raised in WV.  so I am curious about the story there :)
 

If I had to guess, it would be a stab at Point Break.  Johnny Utah was the name of the character played by Keanu  Reeves.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 02:48:25 PM »
that's what I get for not watching movies :P - I don't get pop culture references.  oh well.

Offline Medicineball

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 08:11:44 PM »
Great info - thanks for sharing!

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 08:44:53 PM »
@JohnnyUtah: appreciate you sharing your family's experience. I really find stories like this invaluable. It helps me in learning what you really need to prep for; not zombies and 2012.  God bless you and your family hope y'all are alright.

You mentioned a small ac unit that you use at night. Is this like a window ac or something different? Hope you don't mind me asking. I live in San Antonio so it can and is really hot down here. Thanks!

Offline joeinwv

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2012, 09:07:44 PM »
Glad to hear you made it through. My folks were no power for 8 days. We never went down luckily. Gas lines were nuts, people were rude. Local grocery store (major chain) was meeting people at the door and selling bread, etc for CASH ONLY.

Generators are very helpful - but very noisy. They also only make power when running. A solar panel hooked to a deep cycle battery to an inverter will run a fan, radio and led light for quite a while in dead silence. Especially important at night.

Offline Sulla

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2012, 02:01:48 PM »
Thanks for sharing!

Offline JohnnyUtah

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2012, 07:43:44 PM »
Hey Lobo. Yes, I actually ran a window AC unit we had.  I have central air normally, but I'm really glad we had the window unit for this event.  It sets in my shop and does nothing typically, but it was there when we needed it.

We would run it in one bedroom where the whole family would sleep before bed.  Run it enough to cool things off then on low until late, then I'd cut the genny. 

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2012, 10:48:29 AM »
@JohnnyUtah: Thanks for let me know. I may see about picking up a low cost one and keeping it in our garage for such an event.  Because when something like that happens I don't want to be one of those people that's kicking themselves saying why didn't I get that.

Offline Hootie

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2012, 01:48:32 PM »
CASH IS KING. NO one cares how many divisible one ounce silver rounds you have in your pocket. Keep cash in your safe at home, keep cash in every car. I have 3 rolls of gold dollars in each car and cash in the safe. When the power is out, so are bank and credit cards. Goods are available...for CASH.
 
I would go for 3 months in the winter time before I do another week in the summer. I can make heat and I can store food outside, but living in 100 degree heat and over 80% humidity in the summer is the suck. WV never has that nice desert dry heat. Sorry for the book. Cheers,
 Johnnyutah.

Don't want to get too intrusive, but knowing what you know now.
How much cash would you recommend to have on hand?

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2012, 06:29:58 PM »
Thank you for such a great post JonnyUtah.  And now you're up in that rarified air reserved for those with more karma than posts!

Pretty much everything you noted about people and the situation jibes with what we saw after Katrina around here.  Only major difference I see is that people were freaking out here on Day 3, but they held out until Day 5 up your way.  I'm not saying this to quibble, just saying that we all need to be ready on Day 0!

About the generator problems you mention, have you listened to Jack's podcast episode with Steven Harris a couple of weeks ago?  There may be some info about keeping refrigerators going that you could use; unfortunately, it probably won't help much with the air conditioning situation.

Hope the recovery is coming along well.  We're catching bits and pieces of news on it here on the outside, but please post anything you think is noteworthy.

Anyway, great post.  Thanks!

Offline JohnnyUtah

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2012, 06:53:18 AM »
Don't want to get too intrusive, but knowing what you know now.
How much cash would you recommend to have on hand?

Hey Hootie, I beleive the answer to your question will be different for everyone.  You will need to calculate your need for gas, food, ice, etc. 

If you run a genny, have you run it a sufficent enough amount of time to know your needs for a significant time off the grid in extreme weather conditions, cold and hot?  DO you keep enough gas on hand to run, and for how many days.

Do you have sufficent dry good stores to eat the entire time.  Do you have propane for cooking on hand and do you have enough cash for a replacement tank if needed.

Can you get home from where you are?  Like me, I had some gas, but was well below where I normally fill up. 

I keep $75 in rolled dollar coins in each vehicle.  If I figure SHTF is on ts way, That will get me full tank of gas, an extra case of water, small amount of food and will make sure I can make it home.  God forbid you need something big.  People around here who were not prepared for this event may have had pplenty of cash in the bank, but it wasnt accessible with the grid down.  I reccomend a significant amount in the safe at home, IF and only if you have a large safe that cant be carried out of your home.  If you dont have a large safe, pull up a section of carpet and lay it out flat and put it back down.  Thieves are neither smart nor industrious enough to pull up carpet to look for cash.

In the orginal AAR, I didnt stress enough to folks to have water.  Primarily because water is not a concern for me on my property with my set up.  It was a concern for almost all people in my area.  I suggest 1-2 large rain barrels for things like flushing toilets.  I have a pre filter on my rain barrel, sand and charcoal type and have no problem using it for cooking.  I also suggest a large store of drinking water or a way to filter water if you have a permanent source at your home like I do. 

Other than cash, Water was the difference between kings and paupers.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2012, 09:21:55 AM »
Don't want to get too intrusive, but knowing what you know now.
How much cash would you recommend to have on hand?

Hey Hootie, I want to jump in and answer this one too.  The best way to put it – for the moderately prepared – is that surprisingly little cash on hand is needed.  I keep about 1/3 of my monthly budget tucked away in 20's and 50's, but didn't need anything like that amount following Katrina.

Here's the way things worked.  For the usual bills we all have to pay, if the post office and your bank were down, there was a lot of patience on the part of the mortgage bank, electric company, etc.  So those expenses were pushed back until the emergency was over and normal check writing could re-commence.  For the other daily stuff like gas and food, it just wasn't available so that didn't take any money.  Or if it was available, it was beyond price, except in critical emergencies in which case it was freely given.  When contractors began trickling into the area two weeks later, they'd accept checks, almost as normal business during normal times.

Gas was about the only exception to this.  It could be had, but it was almost a luxury item, for people running generators so they could sleep in AC.  (Yeah, I know, if you're not acclimated to the heat it'll kill you, so it's not really a luxury.  But that's a side issue.)  So there was a crazy market on gas.  I mostly sidestepped the whole thing by just sleeping with the windows open and riding a bike.

JonnyUtah is right when he said:
Quote
Other than cash, Water was the difference between kings and paupers.
Water, the single most important item.  It fell into the "beyond price" category, where if you had it, you just gave it away if you saw someone in need.  Fortunately the National Guard was supplying it to most people by Day 4.  Do whatever you can to have a large, steady supply established beforehand.  You don't want to be in the position of telling your 14yo daughter that she can't rinse her hair tonight because you gave away six liters to a family that was in dire straits earlier that day.  (Actually she took it pretty well, but there was brief moment of drama I could've done without.  Stress was getting to everybody by Day 3.)

Back to the question of how much cash, there were a few stores that re-opened on Day 3 just to clear out their stock before they got looted – mostly because of cigarettes, I suspect.  It was great to buy the kids a few root beers and candy bars.  That took cash, but at normal prices.  They were also giving it away if people didn't have the money.  Then when little stores started re-opening three weeks later, those were cash-only deals.  (Still remember those fresh bananas, yum!)  My guess is I didn't spend more than $100 before normal commerce re-stated.

Offline defib

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2013, 06:31:15 AM »
Excellent post.....we suffered the same event in Wyoming County WV.  Power and water were both down for 4 days, with public water system failing and returning a day after the power. We fared pretty good at our house due to advanced preps and thanks to what I have learned from TSP's resources and members.

d3nni5

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Re: AAR SHTF in WV. 11 days no power post Derecho
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2013, 06:36:56 AM »


That word "derecho" I never heard before last year.   The started saying it yesterday on TWC again, got me thinking about last year.

We were lucky in Morgantown, no major outages here where I live.   In fact, those storms really were what kicked my butt into taking my prepardness to a higher level.