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Preparation: Your responsibility?


BlsdMama
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re constraints of multi-household dwellings

7 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Yes, everybody who is living in a city apartment. And if your piped in gas goes out or the electricity with which your apt is heated, you are screwed and there is nothing you could have done to prepare for that.
And if you're living in a high rise in the inner city, you won't have a fireplace either.

Or mid-rise buildings in many cities. Or townhouse / garden apartments in many inner circle suburbs. Or the ubiquitous duplex condos that many seniors in my area move into after they've raised their families and downsized. Or senior congregant living. There is a vast range of housing where the occupants don't control their HVAC systems.

Not to mention everyone who rents, whose ability to install new systems is very limited; or folks who maybe do own but don't expect to stay there for very long and thus are limited in their ability to install expensive generator / alternate heat source / etc.

A great many people do not have the practical ability to go off the grid for sustained periods of time, particularly in extreme weather.

 

[Which is different from being a complain-o-head if there are a few hours without AC or wifi, or toilet paper supplies run low, or fresh produce is unavailable for a few days.]

There is a lot of space between blithe expectations that everything we want should always be available instantly at the prices we've come to expect... and everyone should be prepared to sustain themselves for weeks on end without any meaningful government support.  Somewhere in the middle range of that space is reasonable expectations for households to be somewhat-prepared for emergency conditions and be somewhat-tolerant of mild inconvenience... and reasonable expectations for government (local, state and federal levels) to provide more systemic responses to the specific problems that specific emergencies entail.

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9 minutes ago, ScoutTN said:

I wonder how much this varies place to place? My city had a huge flood in 2010 and most of us who lived through it are indeed better prepared than we were before. It showed up last year when a major tornado hit a week or ten days before the covid shut down. The incredible amount of sustained local neighbor helping neighbor work that went on was possible because people had resources as well as willingness to help. 

Yes, and the city made plans and more plans for the emergency situations so that chain of command was clear, communication was easier, everyone knew who to call to get what. Even the private organizations in this area (churches and such) already had emergency assistance protocols in place so that they could be on the spot in an organized way and be more effective in lending their assistance. But you are right. The city was much better prepared for last spring.

 

5 minutes ago, Soror said:

I see it as a both situation.

I live in a rural area so people here are much more likely to err to the side of self-sufficiency than not. We have a fairly large generator as do many people we know. Dh makes sure to keep it maintained, we keep gas jugs filled. I keep a fair amount of food on hand, although not as much as I used to (I pulled out of the prepper stuff as I found it more stressful than helpful). We are more prepared than some, less than others. It is a luxury that we are able to do what we can. We have the space and the extra funds to afford these things. If we lived in an apartment in the city it would be much more difficult. I think the power company failed the people and should have to do their part, it is crap to say the people should prep but it is ok that the power company did not.

Same here. I guess rural people understand that help will go first to the cities because more people are there, so we will probably be on our own for longer....

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55 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

You can buy a wood stove insert for the fireplace. If I had a real chimney that's exactly what I'd do. It's far more efficient for heating than a fireplace, but you do have the ability to use wood to heat.

We have a fireplace that the chimney needs some work so we're going to convert to a wood stove insert.    We also live on a river, have propane for stove, plus grills, camping equipment, have a generator, etc.   We could probably go about 3 or 4 weeks without grocery shopping if we used down all the food in the house, especially if we didn't lose the fridge/freezer.   Our biggest problem is we are on a well so the pump goes down with a power outage.  Although, we just put in a switch box for the generator (instead of having to run extension cords) and from what I understand we can run the well pump if its the ONLY thing running.    So we'll have to switch for a little while to fill up tanks and containers, then switch back to everything else.  

All our recent power outages, the power companies provided free bottled water at the grocery stores.   You just told them where you lived and could get a case or two of water each day.   

I agree that it needs to be a mix of government (local, state and national) and personal responsibility.   There should be standards for things like the electrical grid that need to be met, with the understanding that things may still happen.  

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I can say that here in Florida, and I assume it is similar in Texas, MOST single family homes don't have a fireplace. It's unusual, and for looks, not heat. Honestly, they are mainly a place to hang stockings, so not bothered with in most homes. 

And many homes are built with super high cathedral ceilings, which lets heat rise up there when it is hot, but would make staying warm very difficult. Again, betting similar stuff in Texas. 

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3 minutes ago, Wheres Toto said:

We have a fireplace that the chimney needs some work so we're going to convert to a wood stove insert.    We also live on a river, have propane for stove, plus grills, camping equipment, have a generator, etc.   We could probably go about 3 or 4 weeks without grocery shopping if we used down all the food in the house, especially if we didn't lose the fridge/freezer.   Our biggest problem is we are on a well so the pump goes down with a power outage.  Although, we just put in a switch box for the generator (instead of having to run extension cords) and from what I understand we can run the well pump if its the ONLY thing running.    So we'll have to switch for a little while to fill up tanks and containers, then switch back to everything else.  

All our recent power outages, the power companies provided free bottled water at the grocery stores.   You just told them where you lived and could get a case or two of water each day.   

I agree that it needs to be a mix of government (local, state and national) and personal responsibility.   There should be standards for things like the electrical grid that need to be met, with the understanding that things may still happen.  

We also have a well with an electric pump. But we mainly use it for livestock. My dh has a plan of putting solar panels on the roof of our barn to generate power for the well pump. And over the last few days we were tossing around ideas for outdoor wood burner vs. gas logs, vs. wood stove. I think we're probably going to go for woodstove. The outdoor wood burner would require power to circulate the warm air in the house, so that really wouldn't be effective in a no power emergency. Plus it would have been 12 thousand dollars! which made me gasp. It'll be cheaper and more useful to just put the woodstove in the house. 

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21 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

We don't live in a high rise and also don't have a fireplace. SO without electricity our backup plan was layers of clothing, blankets and spending time close together.

@Dreamergal charcoal stove can be a portable source of warmth, similar to a small campfire. I have basically lived in a high rise (24th floor) with no fireplace most of my life. We just layer like we are going to play snow and stay put in the most insulated room in the house. My warmest room currently is actually the kitchen because it has no windows.

Some of my condo neighbors have barbecue grills that run off propane tanks in their patios. Our winter is mild so using those grills in the winter during a gas and power outage is possible.

Our PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electricity) has a bad reputation anyway so it is better to be prepared for power and gas outages.

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Is it actually possible to stock up on Rx medications? 

 

My household has 5 regular Rxs, two of which are refilled for 90 days, and 3 for only 30. None can be refilled until within a week of being used up. 
 

These are not opiods or stimulants. Two diabetes meds, synthroid, an anti-convulsant, and a non-stim ADD med. I would need hospitalization within days without my diabetes medications, regardless of how I ate. Both my son’s and husband’s meds are ones that must be stepped down and sudden stoppage can be very dangerous.

I would imagine that millions and millions of people have similar situations. 

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We were fairly prepared for Texans; we have bottled water and food, a propane grill, wool socks, etc.  But, there are things I didn't know, such as not only keep your faucets on but open your cabinet doors (why do I want to waste my precious heat on my cabinets?)  We have been extremely lucky that we have maintained power.  We took in some young people who have had no power.  So, all of a sudden I was having to think through food and water situations for many more than I had planned for.  That is on top of having to remember what it is like to prepare meals for more people because we haven't had guests in our home for the past year due to COVID!  We had moved not long before COVID hit, so I am trying to remember where the paper plates and extra serving utensils are.  

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Just now, ScoutTN said:

Is it actually possible to stock up on Rx medications? 

 

My household has 5 regular Rxs, two of which are refilled for 90 days, and 3 for only 30. None can be refilled until within a week of being used up. 
 

These are not opiods or stimulants. Two diabetes meds, synthroid, an anti-convulsant, and a non-stim ADD med. I would need hospitalization within days without my diabetes medications, regardless of how I ate. Both my son’s and husband’s meds are ones that must be stepped down and sudden stoppage can be very dangerous.

I would imagine that millions and millions of people have similar situations. 

Are the limits because of insurance purposes? 

My insurance limits the refills on daily Rxs. And we'd also run short between dr visits too, though I guess we could ask the dr for an emergency Rx?

So we can pay out of pocket for extras, maybe. 

But also, there are ways of "banking" extra meds. Most of the time, there is like a 7 day buffer within which you can fill the Rx. So to build up a stash, you always fill each Rx the first day that it is possible. Eventually, you can build up an extra two or three weeks of meds. 

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6 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

@Dreamergal charcoal stove can be a portable source of warmth, similar to a small campfire. I have basically lived in a high rise (24th floor) with no fireplace most of my life. We just layer like we are going to play snow and stay put in the most insulated room in the house. My warmest room currently is actually the kitchen because it has no windows.

Some of my condo neighbors have barbecue grills that run off propane tanks in their patios. Our winter is mild so using those grills in the winter during a gas and power outage is possible.

Our PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electricity) has a bad reputation anyway so it is better to be prepared for power and gas outages.

Many Texans do not own any clothing to play in the snow; I know quite a few who had never seen snow before in their life.  No, they weren't prepared for emergencies by having snow clothing (that they had to order from somewhere because it isn't even sold locally) sitting on the shelf.  

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We are prepared to go without power for a week.  It happened once, and I will never forget it- and I hope to always be prepared for at least a week!  I think once it happens to you, you feel more personal responsibility toward your family to be as prepared as you can.  I got groceries planning to not be able to get back to a store for 10 days- and I picked foods that could be easily cooked with generator electricity, a grill, or on a wood fireplace insert.  DH checked the generator to be sure it's working, and filled up on gas. Living rural, it's not unusual for our roads to not be cleared for a day or so- it's still white and icy right now.  It's common for everyone to prepare to be without power, especially for a few days!  My town is currently still very shut down (not in TX, just getting a snowstorm), most businesses, Dr. clinics, health departments, even our courthouse- all closed for the last several days.  The grocery store is opening for short periods of time each day- but most people got everything over the weekend when bad weather was predicted, and our local emergency responders keep telling everyone to stay off the roads!  We have dedicated warming areas (usually churches or civic buildings), we check on our neighbors, and we know someone with a wood stove, generator, etc. so we have a place to go if it gets really bad.  I do think that many people could have been better prepared for their own families, seeing as this was predicted days ahead of time (and I know its harder for the poor- but our rural poor are much more prepared than many in the city, it seems).  The heat- that seems more like a failure on the part of government and power plants.  Often during disasters that take out electric, we depend on linemen from states away to come help restore the lines (I know the lines are not the problem in TX right now), and when hurricanes hit TX, our linemen go there and help repair the lines.  With so many states being hit, that could also be a huge problem (hoping for no ice) in a big weather event.  In 2009 there was a big ice storm that knocked down milesa ndmiles of poles- all over rural Missouri and Arkansas.  Many were without power for days, weeks even!

I do think that our governments- particularly local and state- should be ready for emergencies that happen on a predictable timetable, with the federal government stepping on to fill the gaps for big things like ice storms, hurricanes, etc.   For the most part, it seems they are- but not for this one.  I heard one official in Arkansas explain that no, the roads will not all be cleared b/c they do not have the equipment.  And when asked if he was underfunded by the news person, he said no.  It doesn't make sense to spend lots of money on equipment that will rarely get used, when everyone can just stay home a few days.  They chose to spend the money on the roads, filling potholes and working on projects that everyone benefits from all year round, rather than focus on a few weather storms a year.  He's right (IMO).  It has been years since we have had a storm like this- last big one was 2009.  We have had floods (local, plenty of hills to get to, but does damage some towns), we have tornadoes (and they prepare for that)- we are even semi-prepared for an Earthquake (New Madrid Fault).  Having a plan for all of those is essential for government.  

But all that said, where does that leave Texas?  I'm not sure- most of the time Texas is very hot, and the houses are designed for that.  Heating systems we have more north would seem silly in Texas- and I may be wrong, but isn't wood a bit scarce in places?  For wood burning fire places?  Most of the time, in Texas, they loose electricity due to storms, tornadoes, or hurricanes= not ice and snow- so the emergency power is for keeping refrigerators and freezers going, not heating houses.  How much of a budget should be spend preparing for a hard winter, when there are years with no snow at all, and hotter weather with more storms?  Even if the utilities had not been privatized, and were government run, would they really have been winterized?  Or would people in Texas feel that was frivolous?  WOuld they want more money spent on being storm-resistant rather than winter storm ready?  It's easy to say they should have..... but the fact is all governments have limits on what they can do.  

 

And as someone who has had a bad power outage for a week, my thoughts and prayers are with the families!  It was so hard just to do daily things- kep kids warm, entertained, and fed.  I hope the roads are getting cleared enough that pepole can travel to the warming stations that do have power.  

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4 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

Are the limits because of insurance purposes? 

My insurance limits the refills on daily Rxs. And we'd also run short between dr visits too, though I guess we could ask the dr for an emergency Rx?

So we can pay out of pocket for extras, maybe. 

But also, there are ways of "banking" extra meds. Most of the time, there is like a 7 day buffer within which you can fill the Rx. So to build up a stash, you always fill each Rx the first day that it is possible. Eventually, you can build up an extra two or three weeks of meds. 

Yes, insurance.

Good idea on building up a stash! Definitely beginning to do that.

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I think it's a bit elitist to assume most people own single family homes. Texas is a low regulation states and business owners enjoy the benefits of that and pass all of the risk on to their customers.  They get away with it by peddling a bootstrap mentality but will be first in line for a government bailout.  It's a stacked deck and people are way to happy to play with it.  It would be different if this NEVER happened before and this conversation NEVER came up in Texas, but it has.  The "we should do something" talk eventually died down and, with no laws mandating that businesses put protections in place, businesses DO NOT put protections in place.  They will always pocket the savings.  They will also pass on the bill for this season's damages onto their customers and spread a rhetoric that Texans can take care of themselves.  This benefits the businesses who have Texans taking care of them too.  Businesses gambled that THEY wouldn't pay the price and they will probably win again.  

I'm a homeowner.  My first purchase was a kerosene heater "just in case" I was without a heat source for a while.  I grew up expecting at least one winter power outage a year and my parents had a wood stove.  I think I've used this heater maybe once in 20 years.  Power lines are buried in my neighborhood.  I'm prepared, but if I lived a few miles north or south in a city, this would be an impractical thing to own living in an apartment or condo.  I expect occasional disasters to interrupt service and to make due until repairs are made, but massive system-wide failures that have happened in the past and will happen again in the future because a company would rather pocket the money is NOT okay and should not be the responsibility of the customer.  They PAID their bills.  They shouldn't have to pay more because the company was greedy and felt OK gambling with people's safety.  

It's one thing to feel great personal responsibility when you live off the grid, but when you contract your power out to a company, the responsibility is theirs along with the profit.  Stuff like this is why we have government regulations.  Consumers deserve protection and they can have it by voting for it.

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10 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

@Dreamergal charcoal stove can be a portable source of warmth, similar to a small campfire. I have basically lived in a high rise (24th floor) with no fireplace most of my life. We just layer like we are going to play snow and stay put in the most insulated room in the house.

But if you live somewhere where is hasn't snowed in your entire life, you wouldn't have those warm layers. I know I don't. I have 1 pair of fleece leggings I got at walmart this year, and one pair of jeans that fit, and some carpi workout leggings, lol. No wool socks, no long underwear, 2 long sleeve thin shirts, one fleece hoodie. 

10 minutes ago, ScoutTN said:

Is it actually possible to stock up on Rx medications? 

 

My household has 5 regular Rxs, two of which are refilled for 90 days, and 3 for only 30. None can be refilled until within a week of being used up. 
 

 

This is where government can step in and allow refills sooner, require insurance to cover them, etc. 

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1 hour ago, BlsdMama said:

I’ll be honest, whatever we considered six weeks of water became inadequate the minute we use water from buckets to flush our toilets. 

I'm trying to think how in the world we’d function with no heat. We have a wood burning fireplace I was seriously thinking of converting, and now I’m rethinking that. We have our own LP tank, but that’s not reasonable for the average family. Essentially, the post was in the spirit of, “I believe we have heavy need for personal responsibility, however, I’m not sure that’s even possible for Average Family...”

Truly, four days was nothing... but it was eye opening. We had tanks of gas. We were able to drive away from storm areas and reach gas. With that resource, we were able to get potable water tanks and water from my parents. But, look what has to happen there - an unaffected area, enough gas to get there, a largely unaffected area nearby that can assist, and all this without heat needs. I can’t fathom sick and elderly...
 

 

You’re right, it’s impossible for some people. I posted a few months ago that our city water is newly contaminated with lead.  So by 6 weeks I mean drinking water. Not enough to flush or bathe with. We live waterfront, though that water is frozen solid right now. I do have a camping toilet we could line with trash bags if need be in the winter. 

I second the recommendation upthread to look at a wood stove insert for your fireplace. If you don’t think you have adequate access to firewood you could look at stoves with soapstone inserts. They’re designed more for quick, hot fires.  They warm up then slowly radiate the heat for several hours rather than needing constant burning. I knew someone who grew up in an old soviet block apartment in the Czech Republic who said about a third of her mother’s kitchen was a soapstone oven. Sometimes when they had no wood they would burn paper but even quick hot fires would keep their place warm for several hours. 

59 minutes ago, ScoutTN said:

I simply don’t have storage space for that much water or food. I expect many others have similar circumstances. 
 

I do keep a few days worth of basic supplies and some extra things in my vehicle. I stock up a bit when bad weather is expected. Realistically, we could never be truly prepared for a catastrophic scale disaster. 
 

We do have camping and backpacking gear, so some short term water filtration, wood cutting tools, fire starting kits, tents, solar light sources etc. But it would be far too little in an emergency that lasted weeks rather than days. 

I’m sure you’re right, many cannot be truly prepared. 

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Most of these weather disasters come with advance warnings.  And even those which don't (like earthquakes and sometimes tornados) are usually in areas where they know that there is a risk of those things happening.  When we got our foot of snow over the weekend I was already prepared because I watch the weather reports.  I didn't go crazy but I was prepared for possible downed power lines etc.  Which fortunately didn't happen.  Even some preparation is going to help alleviate the effects of these sorts of things.

But just as individuals need to prepare, so do companies including energy companies.  My understanding from the news (too lazy to look up sources right now) is that many of these companies were told to make changes in past years (I saw 2011 as one year mentioned as when these problems were highlighted) and ignored the warnings. 

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6 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

Are the limits because of insurance purposes? 

My insurance limits the refills on daily Rxs. And we'd also run short between dr visits too, though I guess we could ask the dr for an emergency Rx?

So we can pay out of pocket for extras, maybe. 

But also, there are ways of "banking" extra meds. Most of the time, there is like a 7 day buffer within which you can fill the Rx. So to build up a stash, you always fill each Rx the first day that it is possible. Eventually, you can build up an extra two or three weeks of meds. 

I have worked on building up medicine stashes for several family members (mostly in case of hurricane disruptions) and for a number of reasons have found it very difficult for some family members and medications.  Sometimes it is insurance limits.  Sometimes there were other restrictions, yes we could refill a prescription 7 days before it was due, but still refill it only X number of times before a new prescription was needed and that entailed a visit to the doctor that was not due until after a particular date.  I have run into the pharmacy being out of a medication and having to wait several days to get it, so there went a lot of that month's "stash building". 

I have found it is fairly easy to bank some medications that are common and a long-term medication without any medical changes.  But, when health issues require new medications and changing dosages, it is hard to be prepared with extra meds.  

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2 minutes ago, ScoutTN said:

Yes, insurance.

Good idea on building up a stash! Definitely beginning to do that.

My pharmacy wants the business so they refill for me the moment they could. I ended up with about a year’s worth of asthma inhalers and six month’s worth of tamoxifen.  My scripts are all for 30 days quantity (insurance issues) so it can be comical to collect three times in a week the same medication. I do live a very short walk from my pharmacy. 

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11 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

Many Texans do not own any clothing to play in the snow; I know quite a few who had never seen snow before in their life.  No, they weren't prepared for emergencies by having snow clothing (that they had to order from somewhere because it isn't even sold locally) sitting on the shelf.  


True.  I spent the whole first day of this arguing nonstop with my kiddo about not being allowed going out to play in the snow.   It was a hard no.  We got the whole “all my friends are.....”. 
 

We explained until we were blue in the face that we do not have proper clothes and this was not a situation where we could afford to have damp clothes, shoes, towels, floors , or the in/out that a snow day would mean.  

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We bought a home on Texas 1 1/2 years ago.  The original part of the home is almost a century old.  The owners had an electric heater insert in the old, original fireplace.  We wanted to see about using it as a wood-burning fireplace again.  It was next to impossible to find a chimney sweep and people who were trained to tell us what we would need to do for repairs to make the fireplace safe.  As it ended up, there was no practical way to make the existing fireplace safe, but even finding knowledgeable workers was next to impossible.  

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36 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

 

Same here. I guess rural people understand that help will go first to the cities because more people are there, so we will probably be on our own for longer....

We used to be the only house served (full time) by our transformer. The time it blew was... frustrating, lol. They certainly do have to prioritize. We learned an important lesson that storm!

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I'm in earthquake country (not often, last was 2001, but then there's Cascadia  . . . . - just like Texas hasn't had a freeze like this since 1903), usually it's wind storms that take out power here. Heavy wet snow can do a lot of damage too.  (trees take down lines, transformers blow, etc.)   we have emergency preparedness information sessions at church - in my last congregation was someone who used to lecture state employees and professionals on emergency preparedness.  she had access to information regular people don't.  So - those were fun and interesting.

The expectation - whether an  earthquake, a windstorm (of any variety), flood, freezing weather - is to be prepared for a minimum of three days with no power.  For a minimum of three days with no emergency services. (think the video from loma prieta of the cop yelling at people to stop standing around gawking, and start gathering what they needed while they still had daylight.)  

Even in a well run, well planned community - if something takes out infrastructure it simply takes time to restore it.   Some places don't plan well but are fine for most things - but other places do and still have problems if it's bad enough.  (the irresponsible planners can be taken to task - and introduced to the unemployment line - when the emergency is over.  Seattle voted out a mayor who didn't fire a transportation chief who sat on her patoottie - out of town -  during an emergency.)

There are methods of emergency heat that are inexpensive (the terra cota pots and a candle comes to mind.) and can be stored.   Not every one can afford a generator - and you need to have a fuel supply to run it, and a place to vent it.   People need to have the information on what their options are in a weather/natural disaster scenario so they can plan ahead of time.  You can give the information - but you can't make people do something with it.  People have, and still do, use sources that are carbon monoxide risks (re: BBQs indoors, gas stove . . . . ), even when they're told they can kill you.

one problem is - most people don't want to store something they'll only need, maybe, once in 20 years.  (or less.)

we've been without power (once with temps in the 20s and snow on the ground) for a week a couple of times, and another time was four days. I live IN a major city!   usually because a tree on our street came down on the lines.  (power companies triage outages according to which repair will bring the largest number of customers back online.)   In the "off season" the power company came through and raised the lines to be out of reach of trees (it also helped the "offending" property was sold and developed, ,so trees were taken out.)

 

My dd ended up at dsil's cousin's house as he still had power.  Then she got information there's a group providing transportation for hospital healthcare workers (she drove in  OK - and slept at the hospital.)

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Both/And. We should do what we can. Government and utilities should have some mandated safeguards against frozen supplies, etc. 

2 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

I look at it this way: the more people who are prepared for self-sufficiency (which differs by circumstance), the more resources available to those who are not.

Yes, it can be a gift to others to do some level of preparation, according to your own means and ability to do so. 

 

2 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

My friends in Austin say people are out of diapers and medications. We should have some personal responsibility in this area...but these impacts are difficult to address among the very poor where Medicaid limits how early you can refill and where you are already living paycheck to paycheck. TX has a LOT of poverty, and few resources for the poor.

1 hour ago, Bootsie said:

The one thing that I have found it most difficult to be prepared for is prescription drug needs for family members.  Some are easy but others are difficult to establish a back-up supply, especially if it is a new medication or one that a doctor is adjusting dosage on.    

 

27 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

Are the limits because of insurance purposes? 

My insurance limits the refills on daily Rxs. And we'd also run short between dr visits too, though I guess we could ask the dr for an emergency Rx?

So we can pay out of pocket for extras, maybe. 

But also, there are ways of "banking" extra meds. Most of the time, there is like a 7 day buffer within which you can fill the Rx. So to build up a stash, you always fill each Rx the first day that it is possible. Eventually, you can build up an extra two or three weeks of meds. 

Yes on all the Rx comments. The bolded is very difficult to do if you are on a controlled substance (which is more than just pain meds). The buffer is usually two days, if you are lucky, and it's so difficult to waive that that even a vacation or a short weekend trip can set that buffer back by quite a lot. 

Also, even normal refills can be egregiously difficult to have go well. In our state, the pharmacist has to check a database before filling the script. Sometimes they don't "feel like" checking it, so you come back to the pharmacy two or three times only to find out that they haven't filled it yet because they haven't checked, and they can't (won't) check it "right now" to give you an estimate of when it will be ready. This specific issue has resulted in 8 hours of back and forth of at our house PER MONTH. In our family, what changed this is that my DH is a provider, and a pharmacist recognized him as the ONLY one that e-scribes from his former workplace. The pharmacists love e-scribers. If my husband becomes road pizza next week or is struck by lightning, I'm back to dedicated a whole day per month getting my kids' scripts.

 

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11 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

We used to be the only house served (full time) by our transformer. The time it blew was... frustrating, lol. They certainly do have to prioritize. We learned an important lesson that storm!

Yeah, we are actually really fortunate because, though we're rural, our power is actually off of a main trunk line that runs down our road. So if something goes down, they fix the lines on our road first! 

(We feel rural, but with urban sprawl and the growth in our area, we're getting much less so these days!)

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1 hour ago, ktgrok said:

I can say that here in Florida, and I assume it is similar in Texas, MOST single family homes don't have a fireplace. It's unusual, and for looks, not heat. Honestly, they are mainly a place to hang stockings, so not bothered with in most homes. 

And many homes are built with super high cathedral ceilings, which lets heat rise up there when it is hot, but would make staying warm very difficult. Again, betting similar stuff in Texas. 

Even in a cold area, a traditional fireplace doesn't help you very much.  You end up losing heat in the rest of the house so you can have ambiance in one room.  Unless you convert to gas or have a wood or pellet insert, a fireplace isn't all that helpful in freezing weather.

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1 minute ago, KungFuPanda said:

Even in a cold area, a traditional fireplace doesn't help you very much.  You end up losing heat in the rest of the house so you can have ambiance in one room.  Unless you convert to gas or have a wood or pellet insert, a fireplace isn't all that helpful in freezing weather.

Yes, fireplaces are very inefficient for heating. You might could cook over top of a fire if you had the right set up.

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I’m in the middle of this crap right now, so I’m sure I’ll have time later to fully reflect back on it. I’m already asking myself what I could have done differently. 

I think we were more prepared than many. We’ve learned a lot from the whole COVID situation. 

We’re into our 3rd day without water. We were without power for 37 hours straight. Now we’re on a rolling cycle. 

  • We had plenty of firewood because DH’s parents live on a 400 acre farm and we split our own wood every year. 
  • Our house has good insulation, which kept it from freezing on the inside. At the coldest, it was 44 degrees upstairs, 50 degrees downstairs. We have plenty of blankets and clothes to layer. We don’t really have “snow gear” though. 
  • We have plenty of backup charges for phones. 
  • We have a decent water bottle supply for drinking water. We also filled the bathtub with water, which we have been using for toilets. This afternoon, we started collecting melting snow in another bathtub in case we run out because we have no indication from the water company about when the water will be coming back. 
  • Our food supply is good, but a lot was in our freezers. We stocked up quite a bit because of COVID, and we were concerned about losing all of that food. Thankfully, the electricity came on in time to save it. Our pantry is okay, but DH has an autoimmune disease and eats a special diet, and there’s not a lot of pantry food that we have for him. This is something we need to think about for the future. 

I have lived in Texas my whole life and I can’t recall ever having lost power and water for this long. ERCOT had a notice on their website on 2/14 about the possibility of rolling blackouts. This was the first time I was made aware of this. By that time, our roads had been frozen for days and we were unable to drive to the store for any further prep items. That night is when the power went out for 37 hours. We’ve barely had any communication from our local power and water companies about what is going on. All they keep saying is “we’re working on it and be patient”...no specifics. It’s extremely frustrating. 

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Our insert wood stove doesn’t keep things that warm unless the blower runs. We have a battery pack thing to charge phones and run the blower.

We live 30 minutes north of a large north eastern city and lose power for a week or more about once a year. I think people should prepare as much as they can ( water, canned goods, warm blankets), but the government should be there as a back stop. I think providing things like warming stations at community centers is compassionate and what folks do for each other not some government over reach. 

Our town also hands out dry ice and water bottles ( during Sandy it was an election year and we even had some delivered lol).  Regular people can’t source dry ice as efficiently as a central source. It only makes sense to me that that’s part of what we elected them to do. 

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3 hours ago, RegGuheert said:

Californians prepare for earthquakes.  Houstonians prepare for hurricanes (do they?).  New Englanders plan for Nor'easters.

Prepare for hurricanes?  Why, yes we do.  Bless your heart .

3 hours ago, RegGuheert said:

 

 

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If it’s cold enough outside to keep the ice snd snow from melting, then it’s cold enough to keep meat and perishables at refrigerator temps. Load a cooler with meat before the freezer becomes only a fridge and put it in the shade in your car to keep critters out. It will need to be cooked when the power comes back, but better than losing it all.

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33 minutes ago, Vintage81 said:

ERCOT had a notice on their website on 2/14 about the possibility of rolling blackouts. This was the first time I was made aware of this. By that time, our roads had been frozen for days and we were unable to drive to the store for any further prep items. That night is when the power went out for 37 hours. 

That's what I'm talking about - you can't expect people to prepare when they are not given adequate information. The power company should have known what could happen, and warned their customers - AT A MINIMUM. Like, bare minimum. They should have communicated with local government emergency services as well. Nursing homes, etc should have been warned in time to make some preparations - this, like a hurricane - came with warning time, and it sounds like the power companies did not use that time wisely. And the government either didn't push for answers, or were given wrong info, I dont know which, since they also didn't warn people what to expect and do. Prepare for a rolling black out and turn thermostat down is VERY different from "have a week's worth of water to drink plus water to flush toilets, have a way to sterilize water, have a secondary heat source or move in with someone who does or seek shelter NOW, before roads are impassible, at one of these warming stations listed. Bring XYX items to shelter with you. Pet friendly shelters are available at ABC locations. We have lifted restrictions on prescription refills for the next week, and your insurance companies have been notified. After the storm, you can contact the emergency centers at these numbers for more information"

That's how it is done for hurricanes, and Texas I assume does those things then. They should have with this, but either the power companies had NO ability to imagine worst case scenarios, or they lied to government people, or government never asked, etc etc. 

People need to prepare, but every single citizen is not an expert on every emergency. There are ACTUAL professionals whose entire job is emergency management and disaster preparation. THOSE people research all that, and should have been coordinating a message on what to do, where to go, etc well before roads were impassible. And if the power companies and government in Texas were not sure what to do it was their responsibility to reach out to those who do! 

As others said, if government can't do this, what is the point at all? 

 

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Since fireplaces keep coming up ... I can’t imagine that most homes not built for this type of weather event could be heated entirely by fireplace anyway.  Certainly our pretty suburban gas fireplace can warm a room, but we would face frozen pipes elsewhere in the house, should we be without power or gas for heating.

Conversely, our house is not workable for no AC, and traps heat unbearably if there’s no AC in summer.  Gives me an appreciation for houses that are built to work in hot weather with no AC!

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2 hours ago, ktgrok said:

I can say that here in Florida, and I assume it is similar in Texas, MOST single family homes don't have a fireplace. It's unusual, and for looks, not heat. Honestly, they are mainly a place to hang stockings, so not bothered with in most homes. 

And many homes are built with super high cathedral ceilings, which lets heat rise up there when it is hot, but would make staying warm very difficult. Again, betting similar stuff in Texas. 

There is a lot in home design in many parts of Texas that are purposefully done to reduce heat accumulation.  One of the first things in kitchen design is placement of ovens so that they "don't heat up the whole kitchen"  You don't want warmth from any appliance, hot water heater, even hot water pipes accumulating.  You design window placement so that you don't get heat/warmth through the windows.  We use insulating materials that reflect the heat.  

Even if there is a fireplace--in a great room with cathedral ceilings that opens up to another area of the house, it isn't going to provide any real warmth.  It is very different from a small room with a fireplace that can be shut off from the rest of the house to accumulate the heat.  

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5 minutes ago, Bootsie said:

Even if there is a fireplace--in a great room with cathedral ceilings that opens up to another area of the house, it isn't going to provide any real warmth.  It is very different from a small room with a fireplace that can be shut off from the rest of the house to accumulate the heat.  

Our fireplace has been invaluable in stabilizing the heat in our house.  We are crammed into the living room with high peaked ceilings, open floor plan, tile floors, north facing door and leaky windows.....but the fireplace had kept the temps stable for when the central heat comes every 3 hours.  Otherwise our indoor heat drops like a stone once the power stops.   It got stuffy and smoky smelling late last night so tonight we are just going to burn one log going into dark to bump up the house for tempos into the teens.

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20 minutes ago, Spryte said:

Since fireplaces keep coming up ... I can’t imagine that most homes not built for this type of weather event could be heated entirely by fireplace anyway.  Certainly our pretty suburban gas fireplace can warm a room, but we would face frozen pipes elsewhere in the house, should we be without power or gas for heating.

Conversely, our house is not workable for no AC, and traps heat unbearably if there’s no AC in summer.  Gives me an appreciation for houses that are built to work in hot weather with no AC!

Right.

When our area faces threat of power loss (which here is a function of trees falling on the lines and thereafter blocking the roads so crews can't get in to repair) in winter, there is a distinct drill: fill all the bathtubs and large containers, then drain all the pipes, then turn off the water at the source, then figure what (interior to the house, no pipes near exterior walls) you'll use to DRAIN stuff you'll need to clean.  Then you focus on keeping that stack of "drain-only pipes" (mine, fortunately, is in the kitchen, draining straight down into the basement and then out to deeply-sunk pipes to the septic system) from freezing.

We have pretty fireplaces scattered through the house. But when there's a winter power outage there's only one sealable room that we all bundle into; and we have a kerosene space heater that is what actually keeps us warm.

Also, let me now sing the praises of battery-powered camping lanterns.  They run less than $20 and they *rock.*  Our regular use of them is outside, during the summer, on the patio suspended from shepherds' hooks, during (pre COVID, sigh) parties. But they are The Best during power outages.

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24 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

That's what I'm talking about - you can't expect people to prepare when they are not given adequate information. The power company should have known what could happen, and warned their customers - AT A MINIMUM. Like, bare minimum. They should have communicated with local government emergency services as well. Nursing homes, etc should have been warned in time to make some preparations - this, like a hurricane - came with warning time, and it sounds like the power companies did not use that time wisely. And the government either didn't push for answers, or were given wrong info, I dont know which, since they also didn't warn people what to expect and do. Prepare for a rolling black out and turn thermostat down is VERY different from "have a week's worth of water to drink plus water to flush toilets, have a way to sterilize water, have a secondary heat source or move in with someone who does or seek shelter NOW, before roads are impassible, at one of these warming stations listed. Bring XYX items to shelter with you. Pet friendly shelters are available at ABC locations. We have lifted restrictions on prescription refills for the next week, and your insurance companies have been notified. After the storm, you can contact the emergency centers at these numbers for more information"

That's how it is done for hurricanes, and Texas I assume does those things then. They should have with this, but either the power companies had NO ability to imagine worst case scenarios, or they lied to government people, or government never asked, etc etc. 

People need to prepare, but every single citizen is not an expert on every emergency. There are ACTUAL professionals whose entire job is emergency management and disaster preparation. THOSE people research all that, and should have been coordinating a message on what to do, where to go, etc well before roads were impassible. And if the power companies and government in Texas were not sure what to do it was their responsibility to reach out to those who do! 

As others said, if government can't do this, what is the point at all? 

 

Having lived through many hurricanes, having good information ahead of time can make a big difference. I do think this has been a bit more difficult because it occurred more quickly and more severely than expected.  Its like when a hurricane goes off the predicted track a bit.  We had major ice problems last Thursday even though the weather was not predicted to be severe until Sunday/Monday.  There had already been some delays in supplies for stores because of supply chain issues where winter weather in other parts of the country had prevented deliveries to the area.  The forecast keep changing last week; an analogy was that we were getting forecasts of a Cat 2 hurricane hitting Biloxi on Wednesday, no a Cat 5 hitting Houston on Monday, no its a Cat 3 hitting New Orleans on Tuesday.  So the weather forecasts that the planners were working with were highly unreliable.  

We don't have a good secondary source of heating in our home and we have had power go out at the drop of a hat a number of times before--given our experience, you would expect that we would have been people who needed to find another place to go.  But, we have been SO lucky and haven't lost power; we know someone with a four-wheel drive truck who was able to get through and bring people to our house to stay--add in the midst of a pandemic it has really been a mess; we have had to put aside COVID concerns to meet the immediate needs of warmth and shelter for people.  

But the thing that gets to me the most... the city's guidance--If you have a power outage, contact your provider.  You call the power company and get a recording "if you are having an outage, you can check out our webpage at www.power.com for more information...."  Yes, if I had electricity, I could get on my computer and visit your webpage.

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1 hour ago, Dreamergal said:

. But DH being the IT person that he always takes a backup of a backup. So he is seriously considering solar panels, a generator and an wood stove.

I am as bad as your husband in terms of backup of a backup but the scouts motto is “Be prepared”.  Our gas company is also well known for being unreliable with the California govt not doing much.


Other things you might consider are sleeping bags (because you don’t need exact size) and spices (warming/heating spices e.g. northern part of China use more “warming” spices). 

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Absolutely your responsibility. I’m living in the midst of it now. I’m helping neighbors who made little to no prep. Granted, there is only so much prep that Texans can do for -4 temps, but so many did nothing, and that baffles me. No extra drinking water, no can goods, no wood or charcoal. No extra diapers or food for their little ones. We have banded together and helped one another, but part of that may be because we live more rural- though even in the city I had the preparedness mindset. I’m definitely not prepared for an apocalypse situation, and food storage is taking a hit because I’m feeding more than I bargained for, but we are getting through this and I have compassion for those who were not even somewhat prepared, I still believe there was ample warning that this was coming people should not be freaking out there isn’t another load of bread or milk on the shelves. I know that’s not a popular opinion. And I do still believe that it should be looked into but we need to accept some personal responsibility as well. 

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As for "snow" gear in the South- don't buy it!  Buy waterproof breathable rain gear instead.  Include pants and a coat, both big enough to put over layers.  Then put fleece underneath.  You can probably buy a few layers of fleece clothing on clearance this time of year.  Wool is more expensive, but would be even better because it's breathable and warm even when wet.  A layer of long underwear (synthetic or wool), a layer of fleece jacket & pants (not cotton), and a layer of rain gear over some wool socks and rain boots and you MIGHT be warmer than some of the kids playing in snow in the North.

That's the kind of thing you can get use of year round.  Fleece long underwear make comfy winter pajamas, and they sell them at Walmart and Amazon. Buy black so the handmedowns fit every gender.  Fleece pants are comfy and breathable even on Spring & Fall evenings when you've been in the sun all day but are starting to get a chill as darkness falls. Rain gear is great for summer (assuming it is breathable and not plastic). Layered together is good not just for emergency situations or playing in snow, it's great for backpacking too.

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6 minutes ago, Katy said:

As for "snow" gear in the South- don't buy it!  Buy waterproof breathable rain gear instead.  Include pants and a coat, both big enough to put over layers.  Then put fleece underneath.  You can probably buy a few layers of fleece clothing on clearance this time of year.  Wool is more expensive, but would be even better because it's breathable and warm even when wet.  A layer of long underwear (synthetic or wool), a layer of fleece jacket & pants (not cotton), and a layer of rain gear over some wool socks and rain boots and you MIGHT be warmer than some of the kids playing in snow in the North.

That's the kind of thing you can get use of year round.  Fleece long underwear make comfy winter pajamas, and they sell them at Walmart and Amazon. Buy black so the handmedowns fit every gender.  Fleece pants are comfy and breathable even on Spring & Fall evenings when you've been in the sun all day but are starting to get a chill as darkness falls. Rain gear is great for summer (assuming it is breathable and not plastic). Layered together is good not just for emergency situations or playing in snow, it's great for backpacking too.

How many spring and fall days have you spent in Houston???   Days that are hot but you get a chill as darkness falls are extremely rare.  Even in the winter there are many nights you would suffocate in fleece long underwear won as pajamas.  

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The tricky part of this in my neighborhood was people did prepare...but perhaps for the wrong thing.

I grew up rural in a trailer house in west Texas. It iced there many times. My home was not even set on a foundation but was still on the trailer and had corrugated tin around it as a skirt. So frozen pipes, lost power, septic pump gone, etc--I know how to handle things. When winter storms approached, we prepared for being without all utilities. Fortunately, the storms were short lived, and we could always go to grandma's house in town (but I don't remember ever needing to do that).

All that to say that I did insist DH fill trucks with gasoline (no electric=no gas) (he raised suburban and likes to wing-it in general, I'm the prepper). We always have 2-3 flats of water bottles. I did NOT stock up the fridge (even though food can be set outside) because losing power with a fridge full of food seems very risky to me. I always have 7-10 days worth food in pantry. Not luxury meals. Not favorite foods. But definitely grab and go sustenance. The ONLY reason we had coats, hats, and gloves is because I bought them for a Chicago trip during Thanksgiving 2 years ago. When we moved from Dallas to Houston 8 years ago, I got rid of the coats as kids outgrew them. Never used one in Houston before this week. Hoodies and sweaters are MORE than enough every year. I would not have bought them for this week and can not find them in any stores near me at all.

What I was absolutely NOT prepared for was losing ALL utilities and then for a long stretch of time. If water had stayed on, pipes would not have burst inside. Going without power was tough, but I think most people can kinda prepare for that. Although who is going to go buy a ton of blankets for a week event? Especially if you can't afford it? You won't find coats and gloves around. Plus that big $$$. I think most people could and would deal with personal discomforts and challenges. But when the walls start caving in and "hell" starts raining down inside...what do you do with that? We have been sitting ducks through this. You need water or electricity. You MUST have one of those to protect property.

I'm a take care of myself, boot-strap girl. I grew up this way. I have the skills, knowledge, and now the money to be this way. I was a sitting duck. There was absolutely nothing more I could have done to protect from the damage. And I was lucky. No burst pipes (yet) and a giant pool to draw water for toilets from. (back in the day, we just went potty outdoors in the cold in a hole we dug when it came to that--DH would explode before he would drop a deuce in the cold in a hole in our yard-lol)

The group that controls the power grid here is liable. Period.

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I'm trying to think if I've ever seen a wool item outside of a specific camping supply store here. I don't think so. I used to have a pair of wool socks, not 100 percent sure I still have them, but I bought them on Amazon for a camping trip. 

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I had to buy our coats online and have them shipped because you are not finding down-filled puffer coats in Houston. There was one women's option at Macys, and it was ugly and expensive. No men's anywhere. Boy's coat was cheap enough I bought 2 sizes and donated the one that didn't fit. The women's shelter I donated to commented that they don't see many heavy winter coats. :) 

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16 minutes ago, aggie96 said:

 

What I was absolutely NOT prepared for was losing ALL utilities and then for a long stretch of time. If water had stayed on, pipes would not have burst inside. Going without power was tough, but I think most people can kinda prepare for that. Although who is going to go buy a ton of blankets for a week event? Especially if you can't afford it? You won't find coats and gloves around. Plus that big $$$. I think most people could and would deal with personal discomforts and challenges. But when the walls start caving in and "hell" starts raining down inside...what do you do with that? We have been sitting ducks through this. You need water or electricity. 

I’m not arguing with you, just agreeing and adding that many out here lose water when we lose power because they go hand in hand being on a well. 

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True. Back when I was on well water that was the case, but we prepared for that. I've never lost water in a municipal district, even in Dallas snowstorms from years past.

ETA...until this week. :)

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I’m jealous.  I just found out my aunt has had full time power at the farm 2 minutes from my house since yesterday afternoon.  I suspect it has has something to do with the city utility water well located on site and they are desperate to keep it on line with all the burst water lines, but still, jealous.

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11 minutes ago, aggie96 said:

I had to buy our coats online and have them shipped because you are not finding down-filled puffer coats in Houston. There was one women's option at Macys, and it was ugly and expensive. No men's anywhere. Boy's coat was cheap enough I bought 2 sizes and donated the one that didn't fit. The women's shelter I donated to commented that they don't see many heavy winter coats. 🙂 

Ironically Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th Avenue, and Bloomingdales Outlet have over supply of down and down alternative puffer parkas here in NorCal. We usually go up to Lake Tahoe to play snow yearly but didn’t go yet this winter. I have a stockpile of winter parkas and coats. 
 

My family’s country of origin was third world status when my husband and I were growing up so my husband would hoard food and warm clothing, warm blankets and winter shoes. Hopefully you all get your power and gas back soon. 

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Not disputing, just conversing...

I can buy coats in Dallas too. Just not Houston, which I didn't know until I shopped for that trip. Before that, it didn't occur to me that there wasn't someone somewhere that would sell a selection of coats even in Houston.

I had the reverse problem once in Dallas when I wanted to shop for a swim suit in December for a vacation. No where to be found except in an upscale store called Just Water at the Galleria. That top and bottom cost me $160. Yikes! I still have that suit 29 years later. It's out of style, and I can't get a leg in it now, but something won't let me ditch it. :)

ETA: I hoard warm blankets too, but mostly for sentimental value. I had to get a ladder to get them down from the top of a closet for this week. I was also kicking myself for purging all my extra old ratty linens when we moved this past summer because I really needed them for outside. I had to buy canvas painter's tarps for my trees (which was probably pointless given how bad the weather got). But I can afford it. So many people can not (even if they own a house). 

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