How a Bookish Person Prepares For a Natural Disaster or a Zombie Apocalypse

As The City of Brotherly Love, where I live, braces for Hurricane Sandy, my family prepares for the high winds and rain that could leave us without power for 7-10 days and maybe even with flooding in our basement.  Our fingers are crossed that our area won’t have to deal with anything worse than that.  This hurricane is already responsible for the deaths of at least 42 people in the Caribbean.

For my husband, who grew up on the Mississippi coast, also known as “Hurricane Alley,” a lower-category hurricane or tropical storm is not a big deal and he knows how to prepare for these types of tempests.  To me, born and raised in the northeastern United States, these storms are not normal and the idea of preparing for one is particularly unsettling and daunting.

So, this is how we’ve prepared:  we have removed our bird feeders so they don’t fly through the window; we are doing our laundry to make sure we have fresh clothes all week; we have supplies, including jugs of fresh water, candles, non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, and more.  We also plan to fill our bathtubs with water for cleaning if tap water becomes unavailable.  Finally, we have a generator (courtesy of friends), which we can use for limited periods of time if we lose power. For anyone unsure about their disaster preparations, my husband recommends the CDC’s page on preparing for a zombie apocalypse, while his mother (a veteran of many storms who had to rebuild after Katrina) recommends filling up the car’s gas tanks and buying lots of Pop Tarts.

I am hoping that the worst case scenario to result from Sandy is a loss of electricity, but even that thought is unbearable.  We lost power for nearly a week after Hurricane Irene last year (my area was much luckier than New England), and it was an awful experience for us with a five-month-old infant, two three-year-olds, and two five-month-old kittens who had joined our household the day before the storm.  The experience left me wondering how people managed before the invention of the electric light bulb.  Some may romanticize losing power, the way many romanticize the past, but I’m not one them.  I am very happy living with the modern conveniences of 2012.

One of those conveniences is my Kindle, which has a relatively long battery life, so long as I turn off the Wireless access. I hope that means I will be able to read it by candle light, flashlight, and fireplace.  My Kindle is charging now, and I’m in the process of downloading several titles from Amazon to keep me occupied in the event I am unable to use the internet or do anything related to work (which has me a bit worried, quite frankly).  For my kids, who are very scared of storms, we’re compiling their favorite books and putting them in an easy place to find.  I have set aside a few traditional books, the ones with “soft pages” (as Harper Lee calls them), for me to read also, and I hope that flooding won’t affect my larger collection of traditional books in the basement.  My area is not prone to flooding, but who knows what this storm may do to us.

Good luck to everyone else in Sandy’s path!    


UPDATE (10/28/12): We’re waiting for Sandy, who will be with us this evening.  My office is closed and so is our preschool.  The good news is that the predictions have downgraded the likely impact of this storm on the Philadelphia region (still under a flood and high wind watch, though), but the bad news is that it looks like the New Jersey coast, New York City, coastal Connecticut are in trouble.

View from our family room of the gloom before the storm



PS.  Be sure to check out my GIVEAWAY (see details on the linked post), part of the Literary Blog Hop.  Even if I lose my internet connection due to the storm, I will find a way to draw the winner on time, and I will respond to comments when I can.  Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I’ll be thinking of you. I’ve been following closely since my parents in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. I’m like you, I don’t want to “rough it” either. I especially hate losing power but I suppose if the house is still standing I can get past it. My mother said the worst part for her (assuming everything stays structurally sound of course) will be doing without her TV. I said mine would be doing without my Kindle! At least like you said it will stay charged for a good long time. Please keep us posted as you are able.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I hope the storm isn’t too rough on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. I’ll be thinking of your family. We’re still waiting for Sandy to get here in full force. It’s been pretty dark all day, but it hasn’t started raining yet.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it does look like the real thing. Right now, they’re saying it’s a category 1 (75 mph winds), and we’re expected to get between 5-10+ inches of rain starting tonight. It’s unusual for us to get storms like this.

  2. Sounds like you’re on top of things. I hope this storm turns out to be a bust, but it’s good you’re prepared just in case.

    Where and how you live makes a difference. Power is tired to water for many people in rural areas. They really suffer when the lights go out. In the city, water just keeps coming. If you lived in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, you might be off the grid and power failures wouldn’t affect you at all. Heh.

    1. I think we’re as prepared as we can be! Yeah, where you live definitely makes a difference. For us, it’s very unlikely to lose water, but we’re likely to lose electricity. Our power lines are above ground and it’s a heavily wooded area.

  3. Tell Mom-in-Law I stocked up on Toaster Strudels just this morning. A Philly girl, huh. I will have to let you know when I am in Philadelphia next year. I visit my friend in Bryn Mawr. She just happens to be a lawyer too.

    1. We’ve got our Pop Tarts, too! I’ve learned that we should always follow Grandma’s advice. She knows how to “weather” storms! It would be great to meet you in person the next time you’re in the Philadelphia area. I’m a Philly girl, born and raised.

  4. I am preparing on the Eastern shore of Maryland — the turkey thighs are simmering in red wine, garlic, apricots & plums! I have vodka and olives! I have buried power lines, which can make a big difference! (What I don’t have is small children — I’ll be thinking of you!)

    P.S. A quick read is available, by yours truly, entirely free right now: THE BEDDING MARCH by Anna King.

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