Saturday, July 31, 2010
The Katrina Bag
By Pat Browning
I live in Tornado Alley but it took a hurricane that devastated New Orleans to make me think about what I need to survive. Pack a bag, the local Red Cross representative said. Keep it handy.
That was in 2005. Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans the morning of 29 August 2005, the most destructive hurricane ever to hit the U.S. A month later I dragged a duffle bag into my walk-in closet for safekeeping, per instructions from the Red Cross.
It’s still there. The problem is that it doesn’t hold a single survival item. It bulges with VCR tapes and manuscripts. It’s so heavy if I try to drag it out of the apartment I’ll probably pull my arms out of their sockets. My most precious books are in a separate cardboard box. So much for being prepared in case of a tornado or earthquake.
So what’s in that bag I can’t live without?
*Original manuscript of FULL CIRCLE, my first mystery.
*Original printout of ABSINTHE OF MALICE, the revised, reissued edition of FULL CIRCLE.
*2007 Red Dirt Anthology, with my short memoir, “White Petunias.”
*Copy of manuscript of Richard Barre short story, “Wind on the River,” sent as a Christmas present in 2000, a magnificent story, never published.
*VHS tapes, including:
The Fundamentals of Knife, Hawk and Axe Throwing – an instructional video on how to throw a knife and make it stick anywhere; old episodes of Magnum PI, Simon & Simon; old PBS programs of rock and roll music; Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, Vol. 1; Roger Miller’s life and music; Grand Ol’ Opry Stars of the Fifties.
*Old movies, including:
Out to Sea, All of Me, Good Will Hunting, The Philadelphia Story; The Winds of War, a gift from Beth Anderson.
It’s all good stuff, but with all the floods, fires, tornadoes and thunder storms going around this year, it’s time to re-think my survival bag.
I found the following article on being prepared while going through old files. I first posted it on my personal blog, Morning’s At Noon, and it's as timely as ever.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
THE KATRINA BAG
A Red Cross rep who spoke in El Reno recently said: “YOU are your first responder. YOU are going to rescue you.” So pack a bag. The kind of backpack kids haul to school will hold what you need. DO NOT stick it in the back of the closet. Put it by the front door if you can’t think of a handier place.
Tips that could save your life and/or your sanity:
1. Make sure somebody knows where you will go in case of a disaster. If you live in Oklahoma and have a storm cellar, register it in Oklahoma City.
2. Make copies of documents you will need to establish your identity and rebuild your life – birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, healthcare directives. We live in a world of numbers. Copy them from insurance policies, credit cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security, bank accounts, ATM cards, names and phone numbers for your doctors and pharmacy.
3. Send the copies to a friend or relative in another state so you will have them if you need them. Your safe deposit box will be useless if your bank is destroyed. Your home and office files will be useless if a tornado blows them away, or buildings are bulldozed after flood, fire or quake.
4. Stash in a pouch you can wear around your neck if necessary at least three days’ worth of medicines and cash.
5. Into your ever-ready Katrina bag or "tornado bag," put:
*Flashlight, with extra batteries;
*Plastic rain poncho;
*Pocket-size radio with batteries;
*First aid kit (Band Aids, aspirin or something else for pain);
*A $20 bill;
*Dried food, a liquid meal such as Ensure with pop-top; Power Bars;
*Collapsible water jug, and packaged water;
*An emergence or space blanket that folds to about 6 in. x 6 in.;
*Extra shoes, extra clothes, extra underwear;
*Old eyeglasses, or your extra pair if you have one;
SPECIAL NOTE: Pack something small and irreplaceable. Be it a bit of jewelry or a souvenir key ring or something else that can be tucked into a corner of your bag, it may be the only thing you have left to hold onto, a memory you can cling to. Find a place in the bag for it!
Tornados come in all shapes and sizes, and they come to Oklahoma. Of 18 tornado photos on the National Severe Storms Laboratory page at the NOAA web site, 13 were snapped in Oklahoma and 5 in Texas, mostly in the Panhandle area. Here in Central Oklahoma we take cover and hope for the best when the sirens go off. While any damage means trouble for someone, when a tornado blows a town right off the map it usually happens in western Oklahoma.
Famous last words.
Public domain tornado photo, Mayfield, OK 16 May 1977. National Severe Storms Laboratory photo courtesy of NSSL archive online at the *NOAA tornado photo library.
*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.