Many of my regular readers may know that one of the reasons I fell in love with my
old new house was because it has a small root cellar underneath the house. I like to store root crops like potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash, Longkeeper tomatoes, apples and cabbages from my garden, and dried foods that I buy in bulk, so I felt it was perfect for our needs. As we unloaded my sealed buckets of beans and grains from the moving truck they were put directly into the cellar, on a piece of plywood held up on cement blocks until ‘we got time’ to install our steel shelving. What a mistake that was! Last Saturday night, after receiving about 2″ of rain in a short time, the cellar flooded. When I discovered the problem on Sunday morning, buckets were actually floating in about 5 or 6″ of storm water!
This picture was taken after the buckets were removed from the water and I sure as hell wasn’t going to take them BACK down there just to get a good picture, but you get the idea… Coincidentally (or not?) I am currently reading a library book titled ‘Just In Case’ covering food storage, alternative heating and lighting sources, toiletries and clothing, pet supplies, emergency communication plans, and more–that will allow your household to survive comfortably for several days, or longer, with no outside services at all.The author’s advice to test (and retest from time to time) all the preparedness systems you put into place before you actually find yourself in some sort of emergency or disaster situation had been calling to me from Page One of the book, but I figured I’d finish the book first, then go back and ‘test’ the things I’d planned. Too bad I didn’t test the seaworthiness of the root cellar before putting all those buckets and canning jars down there!
I was actually very, very lucky. I lost a bucket with about 40 pounds of local spring wheat and another with about 20 pounds of dried white beans because their lids weren’t sealed properly. By Monday the wet wheat berries had swelled so badly the bucket cracked and the lid had pushed completely off and the beans went to the compost pile, where I’m curious to see if they sprout.
All the powdered milk, lentils, split peas, rice, honey, black beans and two more buckets of wheat proved to be waterproof. Luckily, my newly harvested potato and garlic crops were still in baskets in the house!
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have flooded my root cellar in order to test the effectiveness of my sealed buckets even if I HAD thought of that, but you can bet I’ll always make sure those bucket gaskets and lids are hammered in place from now on!
What lessons am I taking away from this experience?
#1 We bought a pump-hauling 5 gallons of water at a time up those steep steps is hard, hard work
#2 We got our generator serviced so we can use the pump if the power is out after a flood
#3 Natural and man-made disasters, both large and small, happen every day
#4 I’m testing our stoves, lanterns, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, evacuation backpacks, and will be using some of my dried emergency foods to prepare simple meals using alternative cooking sources in the very near future
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, here’s a link to ‘Are You Ready?’, a household preparedness guide put together by the Johnson City Emergency Management Agency: http://www.johnsoncitytn.org/uploads/Documents/EMA/Are%20you%20Ready.pdf
In the very spirit of this blog, I’m thinking that this would be yet another really great opportunity for families and neighbors to come together to help one another prepare for the unexpected and to learn new self-sufficiency skills while becoming more resilient in the process. As a matter of fact, while doing research for this post, I found that Washington County offered a CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) course to its residents just last month. Here’s a short news article on that course, with contact info if you’re interested in attending one with me in the future: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Opinion/article.php?id=100234#post
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