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Old 11-19-2012, 11:44 AM   #1
garandman OP
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Hurricane Sandy lessons learned

Hope we can keep this thread specifically as a "lessons learned" thread about winter storms and salt water flooding. Thought I'd put it here since knowing you FF's, it's a good excuse to buy more tools n' toys.

A co-worker has relatives in Freeport, NY - the ocean side of southern Long Island. Their house is six miles from the open ocean although near a tidal inlet. The house has been there for many years and never been flooded, although they did get some water in their yard last year during Hurricane Irene. They only evacuated the house for this storm because so many relatives nagged them that they decided to go inland, book a hotel and do some shopping. The hotel lost power but did not suffer any physical damage.

At the height of the storm, there was four feet of water in the house. A large wave(s) came through (estimated 10'+) without being impeded by land and breakwater and stove in their second story windows, flooding the entire house in the process. The enterior of most homes is not very resistant to salt water intrusion....

Their oil tank was broken off it's mounts and spilled the contents. When they returned the neighborhood was littered with oil and propane tanks.
  1. My co-worker had previously purchased a good-sized 12V bilge pump at a marine store and a spare 12 V battery that fit his car. This pump helped de-water the house when no one else around could do so. Might be a good solution for those of you with sump pumps and no power. They're available in sizes from 500 to 2000 gph.
  2. He didn't own a generator and they were mostly sold out around here, even though the storm did little damage in MA.
  3. He brought an 800 watt inverter ($50-75). This inverter was large enough to power an electric coffee pot. He wired the second battery in parallel with his car and was able to run the coffee pot, and a few other small electrical accessories for three days by running the car periodically to charge both batteries, using a 1/4 tank of fuel.
  4. They used a Coleman camp stove for cooking. The one lb bottles were also sold out in the region in short order. I told my co-worker about the Coleman hose adapter to convert a 20lb can for camp stove use: he'd never heard of it and is going to get them one. I've also told him about a propane bottle refill kit to refill 1 lb cans from a 20 lb can.
  5. The local cell towers were disabled by the storm. They had to drive 5-6 miles inland to get a cell signal to deal with insurance companies, relatives, contractors etc. Oftentimes these towers were overloaded with traffic and they could not get a connection.
  6. They purchased two six gallon jerry cans in MA and filled them in CT. This was the most important contribution for the family because they had to drive 10 miles per cell phone call (see above) and also used the car to stay warm. There were no fuel cans within 100 miles of NYC and supply is short across the country from this one storm.
  7. There are a number of electricians who live in the area, and the power was turned on in the neighborhood after a few days. But the electricians could not get a supply of replacement or repair sockets, wiring and other run-of-the-mill electrical supplies - also sold out throughout the three state area. Basically they had power to two second floor wall sockets, but could not use anything else because of wiring and fuse box damage.


What else you got?
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garandman screwed with this post 11-22-2012 at 03:09 AM
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Increase in insurance premiums.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:50 PM   #3
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:32 PM   #4
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Turn off your main before you leave and make sure your incoming power is correct before you turn it back on. I didnt because my power goes out all the time without any issues before. Most of my appliances are toast and my hot water heater and boiler needed all new controls. Good times!
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:29 PM   #5
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I'm sure many learned material things are just that, as I did after my first hurricane, Ivan in 2004. Save your loved ones and pictures and everything else is replaceable.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:39 PM   #6
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Sister lives in Point Pleasant Beach NJ, and had 3' of water in the detached garage, but none in the house. The oil boiler was in the crawl space, with the water heater, both ruined.

She is one of the lucky ones. Neighbors on grade all badly flooded. Many are starting to realize the damage is more extensive than just from a quick sea water flooding. Some are putting out the for sale signs already. Most of her neighborhood is vacation homes, and she is 18 houses off the beach.

She is starting to realize it is going to be more than just a month out of her home to get new furnace, and water heater, and electrical repairs. Crawl space is still a problem, with conflicting opinions on the best course of treatment. The three of them are living double the distance from work, their daughter is living with friends in order to finish her last year of High School.

They have power and are sharing with neighbors, but not able to spend the nights, as both need internet for work, that is still down. Blocks away the roads south into Bay Head have been closed. Just this week those residents, 2 per address, with two suitcases were allowed in on buses to see what is left since they evacuated.

I hear their frustration, and pain in the calls. Little one can do from a distance. They are waiting insurance adjusters, electrician, plumber, furnace installation, new gas line by mid Dec. With a a new meter, and new furnace location at higher grade in house somewhere, they can go home maybe before Christmas.

Again, they were lucky not to have water into the house. But will be homeless for months when the house looks fine from the street. This puts a new reality into their lives after 19 years near the beach.

One can not begin to imagine how the flooded or destroyed homes effect those families. But this was a minor storm in storm surge and wind numbers, and not a hurricane when it came ashore. Katrina (Cat. 3), had up to 27' of surge, and winds of over 120. Had that sort of storm touch NJ, NY, and the rest of the east coast, the loss of life would be huge.
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sailwing2003 screwed with this post 11-19-2012 at 03:58 PM
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:16 PM   #7
garandman OP
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Quote:
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Increase in insurance premiums.
Quote:
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Don't live in a straw house.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:05 AM   #8
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I watched floods in the PNW all my life, including floods that came up onto our land (into our orchard, but never up to our houses which were on a small hill) not to mention the various storm surges and tsunamis.

In learned from other's mistakes to not live in low lying areas. Of course, now that I live on a mountain with trees all around, I won't get flooded, but a tree will probably fall on the house.

Anyway, in another forum, one member was talking about his families experiences - mostly with regards to other people being unprepared. They had no to little damage, but they had no line power. Once they setup their generator it was like moths to a flame. People who hated them or who had told them prior to the storm they were foolish for prepping, now all came around wanting to borrow their generator for a few hours or at least charge their phones. They also wanted food and water.

The lessons were:

1) People will want your preparations and will give no thought to the fact that you need them and that is why you prepared. Take care not to advertise them.

2) Many people feel entitled to your stuff.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garandman View Post
A co-worker has relatives in Freeport, NY - the ocean side of southern Long Island. Their house is six miles from the open ocean although near a tidal inlet
My sister lives on the ocean side of LI but on an inlet and with the beach 100' away..

She was just about done fixing everything from last year..

She did leave and will probably get the whole house done again.?..been for sale for a while also..
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:09 AM   #10
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Please note this is a thread about ""lessons learned" about winter storms and salt water flooding. If other circumstances pertain please start your own thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CodeMonkee View Post
/The lessons were:

1) People will want your preparations and will give no thought to the fact that you need them and that is why you prepared. Take care not to advertise them.

2) Many people feel entitled to your stuff.
That might be what some draw from the experience, and lots of "preppers" share the same sense of paranoia. Perhaps some of it is justified.

Now that communications are better, I've heard many more instances of neighborhoods banding together to share resources. Sailingwing points out one above. I guess it boils down to what kind of relationships you have with your neighbors. We have one neighbor who is prepared for anything, an elderly woman who lives alone, and a third who is disabled and virtually helpless. I expect to be helping others.

Also asked to speak to the local neighborhood group on "Preparing your family for winter emergencies" to make the point that some very minimal steps can greatly ease the level of discomfort.

A lot of our friends are sailors and being cooped up in a small space with limited food options, sleeping space, electronics, or even heat are normal. The difference is that your house doesn't usually heel 20 degrees. "The difference between adversity and adventure is attitude."

Learned of another very practical solution taken by a home owner who had gas heat but lost power to circulate the hot water. He was able to get a small generator but did not have the house wired. He simply cut the power cable to the circulation pump, spliced in a plug, and ran the pump on an extension cord. He was able to alternate the use of the heat and fridge to keep them both going for three days.

For those without power, drying clothes became a difficulty. Folks were able to create all sorts of washers (the simplest being a five gallon bucket and a bathroom plunger) but getting things dry was difficult due to cold, rain etc. Most of them seem to have resorted to hanging clothes in front of space heaters as available. A lot of them now plan to stock up on more of the self-wicking sports fabrics available.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:44 AM   #11
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Was made fun of by wife and kids for my prepping for the storm. Until it hit ...

Now - my home did not get flooded, we were nailed with extensive tree damage and loss of power for 8 days and also dealt with limited to non-existent gasoline - so this list is based on that.


Things that worked good ( many due to luck )

City water and sewar that functioned.
Cell towers available and Verizon coverage was excellent
Town lost power but back up generator kept power to the pump for water tower, so we had good water pressure

Home had Natural Gas water heater, furnace, kitchen stove and fireplace ( plus a natural fireplace with 4 cords of wood) - kept the house warm and could take showers and cook.

4k Generator built into a class C RV with a 40 gallon gas tank that I topped off prior to the storm. I bought extra extension cords and traced out all the available circuits in the RV to maximize the amps available to run into the house. I ran all the wires into the house and teseted it all prior to the storm. Was able to run sump pump, fridge/freezer, tv, coffee maker, hairdryer for the girls, a few lamps and was able to change all the phones. When we lost power it was just a matter of going outside and turning on the generator and getting a power solution in place.

prepped with:
cords of wood, ran the fireplace 24/7 along with the natural gas fireplace.
filled fridge and freezer with tons of food (knew I could run it with generator)
tons of water, beer, whiskey and a few cigars
filled everything with gasoline - 4 atv's, harley, snowblower, lawnmower, RV, jeep, explorer and had 30 gallons of gas in cans, also purchased an excellent hand pump/siphon that really came in handy.( was sitting on 140 gallons of gas in total when it hit).

Tarps, ropes, roofing nails to deal with any holes in roof if it happened ( it did not for me, but my brother needed all of them, his roof was damaged )
had 2 chainsaws with fresh chains, serviced/fuel
serviced winch on jeep and tested before storm, made sure to get all recovery gear ready and stored in jeep
(this is how I dealt with all the tree damage). I had to pull 9 trees off my brothers house and property.

12 gage, was cleaned, checked and loaded prior to storm. bought extra ammo and had it readiliy available.

What did not work as well:

Not satisfied with the Generator solution - hated sweating the whole gasoline issue, even though I was stocked with gas, it was a PIA. Going with a natural gas generator to run the entire house when the next power outage comes and saving the gas for vehicals.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by garandman View Post
Please note this is a thread about ""lessons learned" about winter storms and salt water flooding. If other circumstances pertain please start your own thread.
Oh sorry, didn't know the thread was only about certain kinds of lessons. Thought it was open to other "lessons" too. Carry on.
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:29 AM   #13
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W/
Not satisfied with the Generator solution - hated sweating the whole gasoline issue, even though I was stocked with gas, it was a PIA. Going with a natural gas generator to run the entire house when the next power outage comes and saving the gas for vehicles.
Great post and thanks for the input. Really interesting solution!

I know a lot of guys looking at natural gas or propane generators because of the issues of gasoline supply and storage.

This changed after Sandy when they found out that the gas was turned off in some neighborhoods due to leaks caused by storm damage. It's a difficult decision as in all but the very-very worst scenarios, the natural gas supply is seldom interrupted and they are completely "off grid" - they generate any power needed themselves.

A lot of people I know were considering propane as well, But their experiences have also been mixed. In cold weather climates, a 20 lb can isn't large enough to run a good sized generator: the rate of use is too high and the tank looses pressure. When they realize they're going to need a 50 or 100 lb tank to run it [in cold temps] some of them have decided to stick with gasoline generators, at least for anything portable.

You can go to FEMA's map center and look up the flood risk for your area. I found a Boston flood map on Geocommons that allows you to set the height of the flood waters and see what gets flooded. We live very near Boston Harbor, but on a hill, and I learned that under extreme high flood waters (10' above high tide, about the worst that Sandy delivered), two of the three access roads to our neighborhood would flood. Good to know in advance....


I lived in Hampton Beach, NH for the Blizzard of '78 and learned a few things from that. We lived on a dead-end street that was a low priority for plowing. When the time came to evacuate, we couldn't drive away because of the snow. When we did evacuate a few hours before high tide, the snow was already saturated with salt water but you couldn't see it. Tides in New England are 10'+ and Northeasters in particular push water in and back up rivers so they flood as well. So the nightmare scenario is Northeast storm plus full moon plus high tide at peak of storm. My car was totalled due to salt water flooding.

We benefited from a stroke of luck. We were renting a house that was fairly new. There had been a flood and the old "cottage" had been damaged. So the owner rebuilt with a higher crawl space underneath and no systems underneath: the place used electric baseboards, expensive to run but not requiring a furnace. The water came up to the top step but never flooded the interior.
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garandman screwed with this post 11-22-2012 at 03:39 AM
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:14 AM   #14
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We live one mile from the ocean on a 3 x 10 mile island on the coast of NC and have plenty of experience with flooding hurricanes etc.

One thing we have learned;

Keep a large waterproof bug out bag (with shoulder straps) with copies (or originals) of all important paper work. One bag per person, appropriately sized, duplicate important stuff you may be separated.

Bag should also have;
Candle lamp and candles
Wind up radio with light and cell charging capability. (ETON is best, good cust serv.)
Some MRE's and bottled water enough for 3-4 days
Waterproof matches and lighters.
CASH ! at least $400
Meds (pain relief, antibiotics, first aid & toiletries )
Cell phone back up batteries and an old cell phone
Knife, Multi tool.
Tarp
Para-cord
2 LED head lights,LiIon batteries
Synthetic quick dry clothes, as much as will fill out bag.
Crazy Glue, JB Weld, Duct Tape
Sewing kit
Zip ties
Water-purification tabs or Pen

This is the bag you go to when it's time to get out of dodge, right now, not 5 minutes from now with or without car. Pets are a whole other can of worms, but you should make decisions beforehand as to what to do, very emotional topic.

If you have days to plan that's another story altogether.

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Old 11-25-2012, 08:45 AM   #15
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Interesting: computer model in the UK predicted the path 8 days in advance - even before it was named.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2305482040/
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