The snowstorm of October 31st wasn’t unexpected. In fact, it seemed like everyone knew about it and was preparing even though the first I heard of it was the night before. Knowing what an early snowstorm can do I was expecting lots of downed trees and the potential for a longer power outage.
True to form the storm shut the region down for several days. For some communities, like Agawam, this meant over a week. Without tv, internet, and the power to charge up those smart phones that we all love the rapid flow of communication, quotidian for 2011, stopped.
Who had power? Where could you find the sundries that became necessary to buy (and re-buy) with a refrigerator out? What do you do when disaster strikes? These and many other questions came up for us Valley residents.
I’m guessing in the ‘olden days’ that people would have talked to their neighbors to find out what was going on. I saw this happen the night of the storm and in the days after – the people who did go out (or as some would say were stupid enough to go out in it) stopped their cars to find out about open roads in areas there were few to none. They pulled over and pushed each other out of ditches, moved downed trees (the were clear of any power lines,) they communicated with total strangers.
But this was the main means of communication. Cell reception was lower than normal and without the ability to charge, many went quiet for days.
In addition to speaking with others my main source of information came from the radio. The station that I listened to was great about giving up to date information about who had generators, which gas stations were open, etc.
While I feel like I made it through unscathed, there are a number of questions I now need to explore for myself. For instance;
Is my emergency plan up to date?
Where would my husband and I meet if we couldn’t make it home?
How would we communicate?
Is my business able to ‘weather the storm’ or am I so reliant upon technology that losing power for a few days means subsequently losing work?
Do I have a network within my community or are all my friends living in other towns?
What are the emergency shelters and communication methods that are in my community?
I’ve answered many of these and suggest that you take some time to think about the role of communications in your life, who you communicate with, how you communicate and see whether or not they are sustainable and can weather the storm that comes next.