Prepare Now for the Next Natural Disaster

 Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey and New York more than 10 days ago, but the effects are still being felt throughout the region. Many homes and businesses are still without power, and citizens are still finding lines at the gas pumps. Yet the most troubling aspect of Hurricane Sandy is not necessarily the destruction is has wreaked, but rather the potential for a future storm to cause even more widespread damage.

To be sure, the destruction in the wake of Sandy could have been far worse. Because the National Weather Service and other weather outlets predicted the storm nearly a week in advance, people had opportunities to prepare. Even Sunday, when the devastating potential of Sandy became apparent to all, there was still more than 24 hours left to buy supplies and stay prepared. Yet there were still many stores sold out of the basics: batteries, flashlights, candles, bottled water, and nonperishable food.

At a grocery store recently I noticed many customers buying large quantities of bottled water. Yes, the stores had just been replenished, but it still seemed odd to see so many people stocking up on water. A return trip to that same grocery store later today revealed something else: the store was again nearly sold out of bottled water, as though another hurricane were fast approaching. It ingrained an important lesson:

The time to prepare for the next storm is now. 

Since most storm supplies do not spoil, there is no harm in purchasing them now, when there is no harm. Since many stores are receiving large shipments, to replenish their depleted inventories, these supplies might even be available in abundance currently. 


  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Candles
  • Bottled water
  • Canned goods
  • Other non-perishables such as peanut butter
  • Cash
  • Fuel cans, with fuel

In addition to those basics, now is the time to look into devices that will make it easier to get by without power, heat, and hot water — and perhaps drinkable water — for weeks at a time. Items such as generators might cost several hundred, or even thousand, dollars, but they can be among the most valuable amenities. They’re also not available in abundance when the threat of a storm approaches. For winter storms, consumers can explore snowblower options to get themselves out of deep snowfalls. A snowblower might prove the difference between the ability to flee and getting snowed in. 

In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey suggested that all of our tasks can be classified using two criteria: important and urgent. The most important tasks are the important but not urgent tasks, since they allow us to get ahead of the game. Preparing for a disaster now, while none threatens, is an important but not urgent task. Preparing now can help you and your family stay safe in the future. Neglecting to prepare until a storm threat arrives places preparation into the important and urgent quadrant. Unfortunately, everyone else will be there as well, making it more difficult to make those important preparations.