Personal Story

2jesus-maria-back-road-to-jackson   ourdriveway_inmountains

You should recognize that being prepared for the times ahead helps us overcome the harshness of an experience. My own experience in the personal story below shows that, in spite of hardship, being prepared can turn an ordeal into a fun adventure! In other words, we overcome hard times with judicious planning, using creativity, having a cheerful heart and cooperative spirit, and sporting smiling faces.

Another example of the need to store necessities occurred when we lived in the Sierra Foothills of California at an altitude of 2,800 feet. During the winter, the usual snowstorms would come through and drop 1 to 6 inches of snow at a time. Then in early February of 1990, a major storm dumped over three feet of snow in a three-day period. The majority of snow fell in the first 24 hours. They declared at least two counties in the area a disaster.

Trees and power lines went down everywhere, and it looked as if a bomb had detonated! As a result, our family spent three weeks (others longer) without power and the normal necessities. Of course, this meant there was no electricity to run the TV, games, lights, little wall heaters, or the water pump, oven, stove, washer, dryer, and phone, or the luxury of running water to cook, drink, clean, do laundry, and take baths or showers. For awhile, the road was washed out so we could not replenish supplies. But, even if we had wanted to, we did not need to because we had adequately prepared for such a scenario.

This experience actually turned out to be a lot of fun for the family. We had already stored the needed supplies of food, water, kerosene, lanterns, wicks, and cut wood to survive the supposed ordeal. That meant the whole thing really was more of an adventure than a case of endurance. We put twin and queen mattress tops on the floor next to the wood burning stove to keep us all warm and snugly. The children had a great idea. They suggested that we put rocks on the top of the stove so when they were hot, we could put them under our blankets to keep us warm. Hot rocks are great for warming cold feet in the winter!

The children and I played board games by lantern, and used flashlights to go between rooms or outdoors for wood. The wood burning stove provided heat for the home, and it dried wet clothes resulting from the kids playing in the snow. To top it all off, I learned to cook creatively on the top of that old stove (even though it wasn’t really meant for cooking on) so meals were quite interesting.

I kept a pot of heated water on the wood stove at all times to wash the cooking utensils and another to make hot drinks. We used plastic utensils and paper products for drinking and eating, and then burned all the paper products in the stove for heat. I did try heating snow on the stove one time to make soup. Although I found it interesting, it required so much snow to get just a little bit of melted water that I decided it was too much work to make soup. Besides, I had stored plenty of extra water and food so there was no need to worry about melting water for soup anyway. Making soup was really more of an experiment than a necessity. We even used the top of our snow-covered car to double as a refrigerator; as you can imagine, that was an interesting sight. Of course, the kids were disappointed that ice cream would not keep; that was the only thing they didn’t like about losing the power! After two weeks, the electric company brought water in for people who were unable to get out, but that still left us at least another week or so without power.

We sparingly used several five-gallon containers of stored water to flush toilets, so we only flushed when it was absolutely necessary! We tried carrying water from the creek to fill the tanks to flush toilets, but that was too difficult. So we tried snow in the tanks and bowels to keep from using up too much water, but that didn’t work well either. As you might guess, the whole toilet thing was quite an experience. The toilet issue is the last thing on your mind when you prepare for emergencies, but it is truly one of the most important things to prepare for in your planning—trust me on this!

This experience happened more than 18 years ago, but the family still remembers it with fondness! At the time, my husband worked away from home for much of the time the power was off. He thought we were weird when he came home and saw how we were living, especially since we all seemed to enjoy it and no one was complaining.

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