In my mother’s house in Breezy Point, we thought we were pretty prepared for disaster. First aid kits, bottled water, canned food, camping gear, even desalinators, all part of our disaster survival kit. And then we stored them IN THE BASEMENT! Needless to say, we were prepared for the wrong disaster.
In Breezy Point we had an outpouring of support from the surrounding communities, so between that and FEMA, food and water were on the ground pretty quickly. Which was a good thing compared to the similar disaster in New Orleans. Although from what I understand this was a much more serious issue further down the peninsula.
One of the most interesting aspects of our possum living experience in Breezy Point was the MRE – or meals ready to eat that were provided by FEMA.
Each little meal came in a clear plastic packet, which when opened contains several items. A plastic spoon, a packet full of peanut butter, one full of cheese spread and crackers as appetizers. As a little desert you’ve got an oatmeal cookie. Then – the main dish. This comes in three parts. There were several different “flavors” of these meals, my particular favorite being the cheese ravioli.
To get started, you separate your three packets. One is the meal pouch itself, in a small foil container. Then – a plastic packet which contains a little heating widget in the bottom. Third, a brown paper box. 40 milliliters of water goes into the plastic packet (Be careful not to overfill as your meal will not heat if there is too much water in there!). Then , you add the foil packet of spaghetti and meatballs, and fold over the top of the plastic packet. This is then placed inside the brown box. Be sure that the warming widget is on the bottom, and at intervals manually massage the packet. 12 minutes later voila! Spaghetti and meatballs. If you were a fan of Chef Boyardee as a kid (like I was) you might even enjoy it! I actually found all the meals to be pretty good, and I tend to be a bit picky.
I can’t get too into the disaster that struck the Rockaways as I’m still mentally trying to hold it together, but I would like to share a few thoughts on survivalism and some lessons learned.
1 – Know your neighbors. The difference between a place like Breezy Point or even Belle Harbor as opposed to say the beach 70′s and 80′s is knowing each other. Through every difficulty I faced in Breezy, my friends, neighbors and family were there to help. To be fair, not many places have as much of a sense of community as Breezy Point, but being able to walk through the rubble and get a hug from a friendly face in the middle of it really made a difference in terms of support as well as safety.
2 – Stay Positive. In any kind of crisis situation an optimistic outlook will keep you motivated.
2 – Survival kit: Buy a case of MRE’s and keep some bottled water on hand. You should have enough in your house to last each person for seven days. Its also not a bad idea to have a store of cash and some precious metals. We also wouldn’t have hashed it out for so long with out hand sanitizers, which should be part of any disaster/survival kit. If you can afford a generator and a pump, as we have all seen those things come in pretty darn handy. A stash of hard liquor which can be used for disinfection, trade, and lets face it, consumption. Some Sleeping bags warm blankets and and a first aid kit/stash of useful medications. Flashlights , batteries, and a manually powered radio, as well as a utility knife..
3 – Filling up the bathtub with water before a storm is a really good idea. In Breezy, when the water was shut off there was no way to flush the toilet. We were able to use our stockpile of stored bottled water from the basement for this purpose, but it can get ugly fast if you cant flush.
4 – When they say evacuate – do it! No material possesion is worth risking your life for.
5 – And for crying out loud…. don’t store your survival kit in the basement if you live in flood zone A!