Dear Mr. Rawles,
First of all, my heart goes out to all those who truly suffered with loss of life or property as a result of Hurricane Ike. I only had the minor inconvenience of being without electricity in Houston for five days. (There are still over one million in Houston and the surrounding area without power.) So I had a taste of what it is like to be off-grid and learned a few things to share with your readers. It seems a lot of people here had generators which burn lots of precious gasoline. But after a few days the gasoline runs out. We toughed it out. I did have small camping-type battery powered fans and several flashlights but can’t imagine what we’d do in a situation without power for the long term. You can have only so many batteries and then what? We had water drawn in bath tub to use for flushing toilet, as water plants use electricity to pump water. Also had many frozen plastic milk jugs in freezer and big igloo to keep some things cold for a couple of days. Ice was very hard to come by. Grocery stores were closed for a couple of days and there were lines just to get into the stores when they did open. They let in a few people at a time for crowd control. I was lucky to have my nonperishable food stockpile. Remember to have extras for relatives. Gas stations were slow to reopen and had hours to wait when they did open. (Many buying gas for their generators). We had full tanks in advance of the storm. One important item we used was the car charger for the cell phone. Be sure to have one that fits your current phone model. Also, many don’t realize that cordless land line phones use electricity so you need to have a standard corded phone (which I had) if you want to even find out if your land-line works. To heat water for coffee we used sterno called Canned Heat and it worked very well. I know this is merely a temporary solution to heating. I told my husband recently that I wanted to buy a camp stove and now he may agree with me. And of course no television or computer which is really tough. I used my television band radio a lot to get information.
I am now more afraid than ever of what it is going to be like if the power goes off frequently or stays off in a worse-case scenario. Luckily I didn’t see civil unrest, but what if power stayed off longer? If there was any way, I would move out of the city. Since I can’t leave, I will continue to prepare the best I can. Please continue to remember the trapped-in-the-city dwellers when you post ideas for survival. I think we need the most help. Thanks for all you do, – Nancy B.