Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lessons From a Long-Term Power Outage in Puerto Rico

Last week someone living in Puerto Rico offered the world (well, Reddit) some insight on what it is like to live in an are where the power has been out for nearly two months.  It is a fascinating read which you can find here.  Some of the highlights:

  • headlamps with lots of spare batteries are a good thing.
  • generators are great...for a while...until fuel gets scarce.  Consider getting a solar-powered generator.
  • it goes without saying that a major power outage--with bad infrastructure to begin with--on an island far from the mainland makes things infinitely worse.
  • politics gets in the way of things being done quickly and correctly.
  • there is kind of a cell network up now. Note that if calls can't go through, texts often can.
  • eventually things like stores and offices may get power first but that leaves many many neighborhoods still in the dark.  And it really is dark at night.  Candles are in high demand.
  • laundry is being done in buckets, "washboards have become a hot commodity".
  • the writer of this piece as well as many people in Puerto Rico who have been interviewed on TV have pointed out that most people were not prepared for this sort of disaster (many didn't have food or supplies put aside for even a few days!).
  • cold baths/showers are the norm.
  • home invasions are a big concern and looters have been stealing generators.
  • on the other hand, people who try to protect their generator by running it in the house can kill themselves and their entire family due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • improperly wiring generators into your household electrical system can also be dangerous.
  • if you have an ample supply of wood, a wood stove is a very good investment.
  • hoarding of food and water deliveries is a thing (as it is in other disasters as well).
  • basic preparedness things are important: have cash on hand and savings in the bank, stockpile food, water, and fuel.  A gas camp stove is a good thing to have as well.
  • the first few weeks you may not be able to access your money in the bank so have plenty of cash stored (safely) at home.
  • canned food is the food of choice due to not having refrigeration.  Sterno fuel is also good to have on hand.
  • some people still can go to work everyday, many others have lost their jobs (due to businesses closing).
  • having guns for protection is a good idea.
  • there was a long thread about the best kind of hard alcohol and spirits to have on hand.  Not a bad idea IMHO.
  • garbage service also gets put on hold so imagine the piles of trash stacking up.
  • at first people were helpful and pulling together, after a month of so with no improvement people started to get not so nice.
  • deaths from diseases (public health related) as well as suicide are spiking.
  • standing in long lines for food, water, and fuel (as well as getting there which could be hours from home) has been a challenge.
  • people need non-electrical things to do to pass the time (play an instrument, read, etc).
  • price gouging is a thing as well, especially right after the disaster hit.
All of these things should give you a heads-up on things to plan and prepare for before a disaster hits your area.

No comments:

Post a Comment