Hurricane Ready? A Tale of Two Moms Preparing for Irene

I was never a Girl Scout, but I’m always prepared.

I was never a Girl Scout, but I’m always prepared.

So when forecasts put my McLean, Va., home in the path of Hurricane Irene, I bought 40 batteries of various sizes, another miner’s light (so much better than flashlights), a dozen filaments for my propane lanterns, three cases of bottled water, and canned and dried food. Cost: $196.25.

My HouseLogic colleague, Dona DeZube, lives in Clarkesville, Md., also in the hurricane’s path. She bought a few jugs of water and a 12-pack of toilet paper. Cost: $12.

We both spend our days writing about home maintenance and improvement, but we have opposite views on how to prepare for an emergency. This morning we IM’d each other about our preparations and challenged each other’s approach — especially after Dona heard I’d spent $200.

After reading our conversation below (typos corrected), we’d love to hear about your hurricane preparedness tactics. Are you always prepared, or do you wait until the last minute to shop for supplies?

Lisa Gordon: Did you buy batteries at least?

Dona DeZube: I live at Costco, so I have enough batteries to survive a zombie alien attack — and a flashlight that’s powered by a crank handle and a lantern left over from Girl Scouts. What the heck did you spend $200 on?

LG: Mostly batteries, everything from AAA through D. My propane camping lanterns are my go-to illumination when the power is out. I bought filaments for them.

DD: How long are you thinking the power will be out — a year? You do know we’re three hours from the shore, right?

LG: Hahaha. Power goes out in McLean if we even think about a hurricane. During Hurricane Isabel in 2003, we lost power for six days.

DD: Power lines are underground here. We never lose power.

LG: You live in civilization. Do you have a gas range? Because that will work even if the power is out. Just light it with a match.

DD: Charcoal BBQ. Hey, that would mean my husband would have to cook dinner every night, since BBQ is on his side of the marital duty roster.

LG: I bought a carton of Cup of Noodles and beef jerky, which will stay fresh long after man has vanished from the earth.

DD: My extensive planning centered around getting my BFF to let me stay at her house, because I’m afraid of the 100-foot poplar trees falling on my house; hence my purchase of the toilet paper. (She mentioned she was out of TP.) But I am filling the tub because we’re on well water. No electricity, no flush. Got a nice bucket ready to go so we can pour water in the toilet.

LG: Have you seen the cardboard toilet one of our readers mentioned in our article Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit? Probably too late to get one now, but maybe I’ll add it to my stockpile. Seriously, I’m worried about you. You haven’t bought all the things on the National Hurricane Center’s preparedness list.

DD: When I got back from the grocery store yesterday, I deeply regretted spending $5 on water when I realized I could have filled my big orange Gatorade cooler with water from the tap. But I did put all my rechargeable batteries in the charger, so they’re all loaded up. And I have a crank-handle flashlight, too.

LG: Did you at least gas up your chain saw?

DD: No point. My husband always has a can of gas ready to go for the leaf blower and the chain saw. I wonder if I should move those into the garage or leave them in the shed. I haven’t gassed up the car yet. I saw on TV that you’re supposed to do that because you can’t pump gas when the power goes out.

LG: It doesn’t sound like you’re not prepared — but that you’re always prepared.

DD: Mostly worried about getting stuck in the driveway — definitely going to move my car someplace in the neighborhood where a tree can’t fall on it. If the power does go out, I’m going to try to get my family to eat that can of tamales that’s been on the shelf for two years.

LG: I’m most worried about how my son will survive without his Xbox.

How do you prepare for disaster? Overreact or whistle in the dark?