Usually this time of year the Southwestern corner of Oregon is brushing off the last of winter, settling in for a few more weeks of coastal rains and looking ahead to some springtime. A few gardeners will get their peas in the ground and wait for Mother Nature to bring the harvest. Not so this past week in our region. Torrential rains closed most schools in the area because of flooding. Inland and higher elevations received one to two feet of wet snowfall. The heavy, wet snowfall brought down huge trees across many roads along with power lines, which knocked out electricity to thousands of customers, including entire cities. More than one small town was entirely isolated for four or five days while rescue crews worked to clear a path so at least gasoline could be delivered for generators.
One acquaintance found herself stranded behind a combination of downed trees and snow along with a Deputy Sheriff, an Oregon State Trooper and a Department of Transportation truck. She was stranded for 13 hours while waiting for the road to be cleared. She reports she was reasonably well prepared as she had some furniture blanket pads, some protein drinks and snacks. Her van had three-fourths of a tank of gas and she ran the engine only when needed to warm up for 15 minutes at a time. She also had some extra clothing which she put on, including warm dry socks. Regarding the socks, in her words, “Very important!”
On Thursday, I had occasion to call a nearby Home Depot to inquire about a new appliance I needed. The lady answered the phone, “Roseburg Home Depot, we are out of generators and propane.” I needed neither but many in the area were without power and generators and fuel was in short supply.
I was able to loan a generator to a relative living in the area. Their home was without heat or electricity. The generator gave them their first coffee in four days along with a hot breakfast.
We become complacent when the power company supplies us faithfully with reliable service. But when weather events provide us with the poster child for disaster preparedness, we are sometimes caught with our proverbial pants down. Only those who are truly prepared will endure the worst without hardship.
Here are some quick reminders: If you have a generator, make sure it will start. Ethanol-infused fuel attracts moisture and over time the gasoline is rendered useless or will turn to jelly, clogging your carburetor. Then the thing won’t start when you need it most. Either drain the gas or use a product like Sta-bil to stabilize the fuel. Starting it once a month will also help. When it’s time to shut off the motor, close the fuel valve instead and let the motor burn off the gasoline in the fuel line. That will help in keeping the carburetor clean.
Maintain your car’s gas tank above the “half” mark. Keep some snack foods in the car, or some jerky, or some Spam, or some ... (fill in the blank). Extra clothes, including warm socks are always a good idea. Fresh batteries for your flashlight, Coleman lantern, camp stove, reliable supply of drinking water and some cash on hand. For a complete list, you can buy my book or check my blog. Stay prepared my friends.