Off the Press

January 24, 2012

By Debbie Berto

Another winter storm, and not so prepared

Debbie Berto Press publisher

Storm coming, so get prepared. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The weatherman never gets it right.

My husband Tom and I are certified members of a CERT — Citizen Emergency Response Team — here in Issaquah.

Sadly, we found ourselves not so prepared last week.

On Tuesday, Tom suggested he should charge the generator. He didn’t follow through, but it did start when the power/phone/Internet/cable went out Thursday morning.

But we only had two gallons of gas on hand to keep the generator going. Uh oh.

Tom siphoned some gas from the 4-wheeler but learned that our cars have anti-siphon devices. A call to the police department confirmed that The Grange did have gas and a generator to pump it, and about 40 cars in line for it. We decided to wait for city power to return.

With plenty of fireplace wood, a blanket over the stairwell to preserve heat and a couple of hours use of the generator, we were warm for the time being.

On Thursday night, three Four Lakes neighbors let us know that a tree’s root ball had broken the water line and the water would have to be shut off. We had just enough time to fill four cooling pots. No more toilet flushing for us, but we did have our emergency supplies inside a portable toilet/bucket, and we gave the toilet its first try. Now if only we’d stocked some hand sanitizer.

Bored out of our minds with only the evening glow from the fire, we turned to playing cards. Finding those tiny holes on a cribbage board is no fun when the light is dim. Hey, wait, in our CERT backpacks we have headlamps! Sadly, mine had leaking batteries and a burned-out bulb. We shared the light from Tom’s.

Ah, dinnertime. We had stocked hot dogs, our power outage staple — but only had one bun. We have a gas barbecue, but no stove to even heat water. A hot plate is now on the list of future buys. If the generator runs out of gas, we’ll dig out the camp stove — assuming it has fuel that is.

After tequila shots to keep us warm (and they did!), the hot dog on a piece of bread was just fine. And we slept really well.

On Friday morning, the 100-pound, ice-encrusted tree limbs began falling. Tom headed out to get gas for the generator, but had the sense to wear his CERT hard hat. The neighbors who came to borrow a chainsaw to clear a tree thought the hard hat was pretty funny, but he did not want the last laugh and wore it anyway.

With power lines down across the roads, we settled in for the long haul. With power back on in town and the roads clear, we could go to the office, get a hot meal, shower at a friend’s house and refill the gas cans — before returning to turn on the generator again, but with our “emergency prep” supplies in hand.

You just never know when the weatherman will get it right.

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