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Saturday, August 8, 2020  

Be Prepared!Published 10/3/2005

It is very hard, in the face of our recent national disaster, to come up with anything funny to write about – and it almost feels like the wrong thing to do. Kind of like making armpit noises in church. I don’t want to be the one to do that. Oh, there might be some good material in a little tornado or a limited flood, but Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath have proved to be no laughing matter.

There might not be much that is funny, but there was plenty that was good. We all heard the stories of the not-so-good. I believe most of that was confusion – confusion on the part of the people, confusion on the part of the authorities and confusion on the part of the media.

Gunshots and fires and violence are considered in our country to be much more newsworthy than anything uplifting, heroic or fine. This is one of the real tragedies.

I have long felt that for every horror the media reports upon they should be required to report two uplifting stories. They are out there and it does not take much to find them.

There are all kinds of people in this country with all different kinds of priorities. But it is my firm conviction that the vast majority of our citizenship is kind, generous, empathetic and strong.

We are resilient in the face of tragedy. We are willing to open our hearts and homes and wallets to our fellows. We have heard many stories of heroism and love and brotherhood come out of the horror and that is where our attention should be.

We would do well to take an object lesson from the experience of so many tens of thousands of people as well. I have heard lots of good advice recently on how we should each be prepared for some type of disaster.

Just yesterday evening I learned that we should take several steps to prepare for disaster. We should have all our important papers together in one place in a folder or something which will be easy to grab. Check!

I have a handsome leatherette zipper folder which was a gift from our life insurance company. In it I keep all our birth certificates, shot records, marriage license, divorce decrees, old report cards, coupons for toilet paper which expired in 1992, recipes for festive holiday dips, some emergency rubber bands and a lock of somebody’s baby hair wrapped up in foil, which I carefully saved but forgot to label. Wouldn’t want to lose that!

Next, I learned that we should have 72 hours worth of supplies on hand! Good idea. 72 hours worth of supplies – I have started a list. On average my boys go through one gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, seven or eight bananas, four or five apples, four packages of instant noodle soup, half a pound of cookies, a box of cereal and half a pound of lunch meat. A day. Between meals.

I cannot count on keeping anything edible safe from them when they are in a snack frenzy. Except sardines. Oh, they have been known to eat them on occasion, but usually only when there is absolutely nothing left in the pantry except some cat kibbles and a very old box of sugar free fruit gelatin.

So, sardines, saltines, and some jugs of water will have to do for us. A disaster is not a dinner party – although I have had that go the other way more than once.

Another good suggestion for disaster preparedness is to have a couple of days worth of clothes ready to grab, including jackets and sturdy shoes. I can just imagine this at my house, "Sarah! There is a disaster coming! Get dressed!"

Forty-five minutes to an hour later, after seven or eight changes, Sarah might have settled on just the right combination of clothes for disaster surviving – you know something cute, functional, stylish, something that will look nice in case she is interviewed on the news, something she can dance in later in case there’s an after party. Okay, Mom. I’m cooooooming!

Then there’s the problem of money. The man I was listening to on the radio last night said that we should have some money squirreled away in the house for emergencies. This makes good sense should we lose our computers and ATMs for a few days.

I have tried it. I used to put all my change – including dollar bills – in a canister. The kids honed in on that hiding place the very first time they heard the ice cream man coming while Dad and I were at work. Necessity is the mother of cash radar.

I tried a couple of other hiding places, but if the children didn’t discover them there was always me. And somebody always needed a last minute $2.95 for something they forgot to mention the night before. Squirreling doesn’t work so well for this family.

I hope that we are not faced with a disaster – I hope that nobody in the world ever will be again – but if we are we’ll be living on sardines and paying for things with the $59.00 worth of pennies I have managed to save – but at least one of us will look really cute!

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