Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3 Secrets to a Royal Emergency

1. Have power
2. Carry cash
3.  Eat local. 

Last June, a surprise storm smashed the east coast.  Trees were down. Live power lines made driving unsafe and thousands of people lost power.  And I, in my cozy little bunker of a house, played Skip-Bo and Uno with my siblings in a rare and spontaneous get-together.  We all managed to be in the same zip code at the same time and decided to play board games until 2am (my sister's favorite thing to do with family).  I walked into my dark bedroom to check on my little ones and noticed a gorgeous lightning bolt split the sky open.  It was the largest one I had ever seen.  "oh," I thought, "I guess it's going to rain tonight."  The power browned out for a minute and came back on.

The next morning, I went to the grocery store.  The shelves were cleared.  People were grabbing ice bags like it was the last truckload of popsicles in hell.  The woman checking out in front of me dumped her emotional baggage on the bagging boy.  Apparently she had showered with toilet water and the expected return of her power was something on the order of weeks.  What a way to start a muggy morning.

As we sat in the 30-minute line for the only open gas station in town, I noticed people scouring the car seats for the last bits of change and bills they had.  The kids slept.  We chatted peacefully and waited for our turn.  My uncle called and asked us to take all of his grass-fed meat.  Their power was out and they would be moving to Vermont in the next few days.  Half-thawed meat would never take the 12-hour drive.  We agreed and paid for our gas in the usual mode of currency for us--cash.  Most people in the area said it was the worst weekend in their lives.

I was grateful for this experience for many reasons.  First of all, I scored a freezer full of grass-fed meat at a time we were not sure how we would make it.  Second, I learned having money does not exempt a person from power outages.  Third, the necessity of a plan slapped me in the face.

So what was my secret to staying calm and having power during a (mildly) devastating storm?  Being lucky, mostly.  I live near one of the largest power transformers in my town and we rarely lose electricity.  We decided to carry cash in April of that year due to budgeting crackdowns.  We also eat mostly local food from the Farmer's Market.  We lived like kings that weekend.

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