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What If You Prepare for a Disaster and Nothing Happens?

• The Organic Prepper by SELCO

For the people of North Carolina and South Carolina, Hurricane Florence was an epic disaster that is still going on. But for those who were feverishly preparing in nearby states because they were warned to expect torrential rains and high winds in the days following landfall, they were shocked – and some expressed feeling silly – when the much-touted weather event did not occur. It's a strange feeling when you prepare for a disaster and nothing happens.

First, let me be perfectly clear: no one wants a disaster to occur. We prep because we want to keep our families safe and we want to protect our property. But this is about how we feel when Mother Nature cries wolf and those around us say, "I told you so."

Here in southern Virginia, I feel like we dodged a bullet. The week before Florence made landfall, the forecast was for a potential four feet of rain and a terrible flood was imminent. Then afterward, we ended up with a grand total of only 6 inches of rain as the outer bands of Florence barely brushed us. There was nowhere near the kind of rain for which we were preparing. In the hills and valleys here, flash flooding is the norm. I figured we'd be safe up here on the hill where we live but I also thought we'd be stranded for a couple of days due to flooding at the bottom of the hill. Instead, life has gone on without so much as a hiccup.

I expected to wake up to wind pummeling my house and torrential rains turning our street into a river. Instead, I looked outside in the morning and saw a beautiful day.

When I look at the photos of devastation from the Carolinas, I feel guilty about my relief. I wished fervently there was something I could legitimately do to help.

It got me to thinking. I imagine there are all sorts of events that people think will happen for which they busily prepare and then nothing occurs. When those events we're warned about don't occur, how does it affect future preparedness efforts? Some people think preppers are crazy anyway and this, to the naysayers, just "proves" it.

There are always last minute things to do, regardless of how prepared you are.

No matter your level of preparedness, when something big is headed your way, there are always some last minute things to do. No one is always 100% ready for an epic disaster and if we're lucky enough to have a warning, there's always a flurry of activity as it approaches.

For example, I spent all of last week hauling things up from our basement. Our basement gets damp in a normal rainstorm and with the rain that we were expecting, I was concerned that it would be ankle deep and destroy the things we store down there. (Stuff like extra furniture, holiday decorations, items we don't have room for in our small house.) All the stuff was already on pallets downstairs, but I just didn't trust that it would be high enough if it really cut loose and poured here.

We had plenty of supplies, but I picked up a few "hurricane snacks" – foods we don't usually keep around like cookies, chips, and that type of thing. I grabbed some magazines and a couple of new books for us. I got yarn to start working on Christmas presents. I got extra water for some older neighbors that I didn't feel would be well prepared. (And my neighbor who is the grumpiest old man I ever met laughed hysterically when he saw my trunk full of water jugs. Yes, I resisted the urge to kick his cane out from under him.)

Then we secured the things outside like lawn furniture and bicycles. We brought in our bird feeders and windchimes and decorative yard items.

I think very few people would be perfectly ready for a hurricane without lifting a finger and that doesn't mean you're unprepared. I'm certain that we had far less to do and buy than most of the folks around here as evidenced by the bare shelves in the photos I took for this article.


For our particular threat, the waiting was the hardest part. Initially, the storm was supposed to hit us last Wednesday night. After Florence stalled off the coast, it was pushed back to Thursday. I didn't let my daughter go to college that day because of my concerns about driving through flooded roads.

Then Thursday came and went with hardly a raindrop. On the weekend, we didn't venture too far from home, just in case the rains started up. At this point, the predictions had been pushed back to Sunday. Then on Sunday, when there was nothing, the local news warned us to batten down the hatches on Monday. Schools all over 3 counties were closed.

And still nothing.

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