So now the worst is over and we have electricity back. Water is still not potable, but it is flowing now. I know we have other ETSers who live in the Fayetteville area, so how did you fare?
Evacuation orders were in the coastal areas, but we had more than 700 people who needed rescuing in this area. Eventually evacuation orders were given for areas at risk from bursting dams, but they came late in some cases.
We did a risk assessment of ourselves and our friends and we actually preemptively evacuated some to our house. Good thing, one lost her house completely. My stores of drinking water, food and other essentials such as gas stoves, cooking equipment and supplies, shelter and sleeping bags and mats did get used. Neighbors all were very helpful and checking on each other.
1. Lost electricity but cell phones continued to work. It was helpful but not something to be counted on in another emergency.
2. Water mains were broken and we lost water completely. This mainly impacted sanitation issues as we had more than 60 gallons of drinking water stored. During the storm we used the trees in the back yard, but then transported water from a nearby (overflowing) lake to fill toilet tanks. Water was back within 24 hours, though not potable, so toilets work normally now. We are not likely to have potable water for at least 5 days, so water purification will be essential. Now that electricity is back, boiling is easier, but before that we had only what I possessed in camping equipment and survival equipment for purifying water, for most of my neighborhood.
3. We did not count on the government authorities to see all of the dangers and made the decisions with some other people to move them to safer places. This was possibly a life saver. We have friends who lost everything, but they are OK. Due to the heavy rains and flooding last week, the ground was saturated and we received a preview of where the danger areas really were.
4. Skills were as important as supplies. I have spent the last couple of days helping neighbors and friends adapt and learn to live without modern comforts. It is like camping, but most people do not even know how to do that. Water purification, outdoor cooking (other than grilling), some first aid, field sanitation were all important things that others had never even considered.
5. There was a mix of attitudes; from the ones not taking it seriously to the ones who were about to lose their minds from the stress. They automatically look to the one who is calm and displays some knowledge, and they all responded to suggestions and helpful guidance.
6. Many of the rescues were from motorists who drove into flooded areas. Does this really need to be reiterated so often before people listen? Do not drive into a flooded area.
7. Understand your local terrain and how likely you are to be flooded. In one area along a creek, the water rose more than 30 feet above normal due to the terrain. Houses along that creek were at the least flooded, some were washed away. That has never happened before in this location, but it happened this time. Understand your risks, and be able to imagine a worst case scenario. Do not wait for the local government to warn you, it may come too late. There are many man made lakes with earthen dams holding them in. Some of these eroded and caused serious flooding. If you live down stream from something like this, consider leaving BEFORE the storm hits.
8. Prep, prep, prep. Basic stuff. My water was all we had for 24 hours, and it could have gone on longer. It is not expensive, can be done over a period of time on a budget, and does not require anything fancy. Basic necessities, shelter, water, food. If it had lasted longer many more people would have been in dire straights. Be self sufficient, not a burden on others. If everyone had the a supply of water and food for several days, it would not be a problem.
Just some thoughts. We came out very well, even comfortably, because we were prepared and had not only the supplies and equipment, but the knowledge. My family did well (my older son just became an Eagle Scout and my younger one just has his project to do) so we had a fun time with it. The people who are staying with us all did well and were helpful and cooperative. Neighbors were all cooperative and supportive of each other. Handling something like this is easy if you prepare in advance.