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14 Nov 2012

Emergency planning and reaction is crucial

14 Nov 2012

Mercredan has said the power will be out for a maximum of 3 weeks for most of the world so don’t assume because you live in the Southern Hemisphere that it won’t affect you. The future continually changes but he’s mentioned the expected time currently stands as shortly after Christmas 2012 when the conditions will set themselves in motion.

Don’t procrastinate. The Universe is not going to put this off until you’re ready.

Having a plan with your family and neighbours is always worth having even if you never need it. The sooner the plan and extra supplies are in place the better. It will also allow you to react in a more calm way. You can get down to the practical organizing needed for your immediate community rather than running around in a panic.

Susan Worth from Hawaii wrote to me with her experience of managing in a community where the power was out for more than a month. I asked her a few questions in follow up which you can see below.

Check it out

From Susan Worth

Hurricane Iniki striking Kauai September 11 1992

Photo credit NOAA

Aloha Annabelle,

On September 11, 1992, the tiny island of Kauai where I live took a direct hit from Hurricane Iniki at peak intensity, with wind speeds recorded at 227 mph (365 km/h). (After that, the wind recording equipment blew away!)

As a result of the storm, most of our island was without power for a month, and many areas did not regain power for three months. I guess you could say we’ve “been there, done that,” so I thought I’d share some things we learned to help everyone get their (physical) house in order.

What’s the first thing people should do right now to prepare?

The most important thing people can do right now is to GET CONNECTED with your immediate neighbors, those who will be physically closest to you when the power goes out. I know this sounds crazy, but when the chips are down (before, during, after), you will necessarily have to rely on each other, and you will want to help others yourself as much as you possibly can. If you live in an apartment building and don’t know your neighbors next door or above you, say hello to them NOW! As a small island in the middle of nowhere, people here already have a sense of connectedness (we call it “living aloha”), and it was without question the most important thing for all of us.

Second, you should develop a plan right now if you and your significant others would like to assemble in case of a sudden power outage that becomes long-lasting. Are you all going to meet at Aunt Anna’s house? Once the communication systems are down and the phones don’t work, it’s too late to arrange a meeting place. Whatever your logistical plans may be for gathering together, make those plans NOW. After the outage, you won’t be able to make any phone calls or have any electronic communication whatsoever, and you could be stuck in the dark without any warning at all.

There are also some basic supplies and practical things we learned from our very long power outage that you might want to think about.

First, as you go through your day, become aware of which electrical appliances you use without really thinking about them and figure out what you will use instead. Do you only have an electric can-opener? Better go get an old-fashioned manual one. Better yet, buy five if you can afford them so you will have some for others who weren’t as smart as you in thinking of it beforehand!

Buy at least two months’ worth of any medications you might need for yourself and your pets, especially prescription medications. We discovered that even when the power comes back on, it can take a long time for supplies to be delivered, stocked, and readied for sale – so get an extra supply of any medication or medical supplies you need.

For the first few days after the hurricane, people were feasting happily on all the food from the hotel kitchens (and everyone else’s kitchens) since everything that wasn’t eaten would spoil in a matter of days. Then reality set in. Food supplies that don’t need refrigeration became worth more than money – canned tuna, peanut butter, things like that – but don’t count on having any bread. If the power is out long enough, the bread molds or you eat it all, and there’s no more on the shelf to replace it. This all happens more quickly than you think it will.

Water became the most precious commodity of all. You need water for lots of things you don’t even think about (how to take care of your sewage?), and what comes out of the tap (when it finally does) will not be drinkable. Here on Kauai, we had the luxury of being able to use waterfalls, rivers and the ocean for many of our water needs, but many of you won’t have that opportunity. You should definitely have at least a gallon of regular household bleach available, because 4 drops of bleach in a pint of water (I think) is enough to purify it if you wait 30 minutes or so. Water purification tablets and/or a supply of drinks (V8 juice, bottled green tea, whatever) are other ideas.

You probably thought I was nuts when I began this note with the importance of getting connected with people in your immediate community, many of whom are probably complete strangers to you now. They won’t be for long!! A disaster of a certain magnitude has a way of “equalizing” people in a way, bringing everyone together to support the common good. On our island, Steven Spielberg and his 130-member crew who were here filming Jurassic Park hunkered down in shelters, along with 8,000+ other people, and then joined the rest of us in slogging our way out. No one person is seen as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another. We are all in this together, and that’s the truth.

What did you do about sewerage?

Most of us peed in the ocean or other outdoor “nature” areas whenever we could (sorry, but it’s true, and our rain is a great cleanser!), and we had a few hours to prepare (unlike a SUDDEN power outage) so we had filled garbage cans, bathtubs, etc. with water. Then we used that water when we needed it to clean “accidental” messes. We also dug pits and used those. But those solutions won’t work if you live on the ninth floor of a 10-story apartment building in the middle of a big city. It’s more that people just need to think about things like that to figure out where they need to be in order to meet their basic needs. Many will simply not be able to stay where they are, even for 2-3 weeks, and will cluster in areas that are sustainable. People might need to leave their highrise living structures, for example, and live on lower ground for awhile, wherever someone will give them a space. You just need to be practical in your thinking and try to figure out where you would go (if you had to leave), how you would get there, and then incorporate that into your preparations.

How did people react? Did any get scared, dangerous, depressed, change in any way?

People here reacted in the very best way you could possibly imagine. This might be hard for you to believe, but the ancient Hawaiian values and practices of “living aloha” are VERY valued and important here, so again, our island community did not react like many others will in other places.

In fact, a medical team from Hawaii left today for three weeks on the east coast to help the hospitals who are trying to take care of all the patients from the 3 hospitals that had to close. It’s just something we DO — be considerate, give service to others, have compassion, etc.

Wikipedia talks about how people here responded. No one really got scared or depressed; we’d been through it before (less powerful hurricanes), and know that we will go through it again. We STILL prepare and evacuate when we are told to do so, even though the “scare” may amount to nothing (we just had a major evacuation after the earthquake off northwest Canada resulted in a tsunami warning) — so I would say it is VERY important for people to follow directions of their health and safety officials if told to do so. For example, if you are told to evacuate the building for some health or safety reason during this time, follow those directions. Be grateful if you can just go home a few hours later and nothing “bad” has happened.

How did you spend your time?

Pretty much everyone spent their time helping others and cleaning up! One thing we didn’t have that we really needed were thick gloves, boots, and other stuff you would need for a major clean-up, and there was simply no way to get any of that stuff here. We only have sandals pretty much, so it was hard from that standpoint. Everyone just immediately started cleaning up everything they could see or find — remember, we had a hurricane (which you’re not talking about on your space), so there was tremendous wind and water damage to clean up from, and that took most of our efforts. There were many tourists who were stuck here, and major hotels were not habitable, so we opened our doors and took them in.

Did you discover any great tip for spreading the food around?

People just spontaneously gathered in known social spots (The Pavilion in Hanalei, etc.) to share food if they had anything extra, and to pick up something they needed.

In one case, a couple visiting from California who are Jehovah’s Witness were absolutely instrumental in organizing food distribution systems for the entire island! They used paper plates to feed people and washed the paper plates to use again with purified water!

It didn’t matter what religion you were, if you were black-brown-yellow-white, everyone helped everyone else, no questions asked. We didn’t get any “aid” assistance for six months, but the Coast Guard (?) came after about three weeks and landed in helicopters with some food. People with amateur radios were invaluable, as there was no other way to communicate. I am retired so didn’t have a job to go to, but as soon as people could go back to work, even without power, they did. I live on a golf course and the entire golf course staff went back to work by cleaning up the golf course, one log at a time. There wasn’t a single leaf on a single tree, except for the palms, so there was debris and stuff everywhere.

Living Aloha

You really have to understand how unusual Hawaii is as a state — together but really separate from the mainland in terms of our values.

“Living aloha” is hard to describe, but following is the section of our state law that tries to describe it:

HRS Chapter 5-7.5:

(a) The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the Self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, Aloha, and the following unuhi laula loa (free translation) may be used:

Akahi, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
Lokahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
Olu’olu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
Ha’aha’a, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
Ahonui, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are the traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.

(b) In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit,” steadfastly contemplating and asking whether each of their actions, including what they think, do, say, or decide:

(1) Is the truth;
(2) Is fair to all concerned;
(3) Will build good will and better relationships; and
(4) Will be beneficial to all concerned.”

Thank you again for sharing your sessions with Francis with all of us. I hope this helps!

Love, Susan

Kitegirl Response

Thank you Susan for your generosity in sharing your insights. Some awesome tips there for all of us.

There appear to be two main reasons for this world wide power cut.

1) To allow electricity frequencies to match the newly raised frequency of humans and the Earth.
2) To get us all “living aloha” again. We’ve spent far too long ignoring each other on the street, judging one another and separating ourselves into little groups. It’s time to see ourselves as a single species.

It will be a shake up and a half but, in the broader scheme, all for good reason.

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