The night before Superstorm Sandy was supposed to hit, I called my friend A to see what she was doing to prepare. She lives in a fifth-floor walk-up in the East Village, and had spent a few minutes talking with a neighbor about which local restaurants would be most likely to deliver in a hurricane—that was it; that was the extent of her preparation. Since then, I’ve heard her stories of going for days without electricity, heat, and water. Our friend V told us about walking down 17 stories with a couple of empty water bottles, filling them at an open fire hydrant, and walking back up, over and over, again and again. K ran out of money when the ATMs ran out of power. And so on.
As far as I know, none of my friends’ homes were destroyed, nobody truly suffered, but I was surprised at the things they didn’t think to think about, the simple steps they didn’t take to make it easier on themselves. The following list is for people who live in the city and need just the most basic reminders of what to do when a natural disaster is looming. I know there are plenty of serious urban preppers who take things a lot further—if you are one, this list is not for you. These are clues for the clueless: It’s for A and V and K and anyone else who has never, ever sat down to think about what happens when the lights go out.
1. Fill your prescriptions. You do not want to be going cold-turkey from antidepressants when the world really is dark and cold.