Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Through Sandy: A List--OR--Tights in Tight Places

This Radio Shack radio was our adorable best friend.

What you will need:

1.  A battery-powered radio
And preferably one you can charge with a crank.  We borrowed the above radio from a friend who had decamped to Brooklyn.  Other than food, it became the most important thing in our apt.  We listened to it almost non-stop, had it tuned to our local NPR affiliate, WNYC--the only station providing commercial free coverage of the area in the aftermath of the storm.  WNYC broadcast all local politician's press conferences and took calls from affected New Yorkers.  On Thursday night,  Soundcheck's John Schaefer hosted a call-in show, where he had people share the music that was "getting them through."   The editor of Billboard called from the East Village on an old-fashioned land line and reported that our neighborhood felt like a more populated I Am Legend.

Without the radio, we would have felt lost and a little bit insane.

2.  Sexy food.
I grew up with parents who kept the most unsexy food in their food storage:  powered milk and eggs, big metal canisters of wheat (I used to snack on the whole kernels like a mouse, crushing them between my molars).  Basically, they kept food that no one wants to eat in the best of times--just saying.  The days we were without power after the storm, I longed most of all for "deliciousness" when it came to food.  I dreamt of poached eggs on buttered toast, home made chocolate chip cookies, and saag paneer.  Since I had access to none of those things, we should have had canisters of chocolate chips on hand, small tins of salmon (food you can eat in one sitting and don't have to refrigerate, which wasn't possible).  I had purchased a tin of stuffed grape leaves before the storm, but it felt too cold to eat them. What I did not want--peanut butter sandwiches--anything that felt like deprivation, anything that symbolized tightness--which is why I felt very depressed for the folks out in the severely affected areas:  the newly homeless were being handed cold sandwiches.  However, had I been desperately starving, I wouldn't have turned one down.

3.  Tapered candles--a deep supply for our candelabra.
Tall candles in a tall holder throw out more light.  When everything is dark, you want as much light as you get.  S and I played the game of Life (by the way I hate Life's version of life) by candlelight that week.  I miss that.

4.  Strong flashlights
The ones we had on hand were cheap and weak and didn't pierce the Biblical darkness outside.  

5.  Bike powered generator
I saw two of these used outside by awesome anarchist-leaning peeps in the neighborhood to power the cell phones of fellow East Villagers.  What I learned about traditional generators:  they're more complicated than most New Yorkers think--they need gas and oil, like a lawn mower.  They can blow up.  And because they emit toxic fumes, they have to be kept outside, which means they are only useful if you are in a ground floor apartment.  As someone on the radio said, "Running a gas-powered generator is not like plugging in an Ipad or putting batteries in a flashlight."  Seriously?  I really had had no idea.

6.  An ice-chest.  
Most New Yorkers don't have cars, so don't invest in an ice chest.  It would have been a handy way to keep our food colder as our refrigerator got warmer each day.  Another thing I would have done is freeze small baggies of water and plastic water bottles while the storm approached.  Someone--I forget who--was at Union Square giving away dry ice, but they kept running out it-according to my radio.

7.  A go-to outfit + tights.
One that makes you feel good about yourself, since you probably won't be showering.  I wore tights every single day.

Did you lose power?  What else should I add to this list?

P.S.  Wishing Lara and her mom my best healing vibes.


  1. now i'm obsessed with sexy survival food. what about a camp stove? i am a huge, huge baby about hot meals. i'm planning storm meals in my head now.

  2. Camp stoves are good, but it's hard to find one that can be used safely indoors. House dwellers, like you, can cook outside.

  3. I have a great little stove/lantern that runs on candles - you couldn't cook a turkey on it, but it has a tiny metal plate on top that can heat up soup, or water for a hot cup of tea in just a few minutes. And it's safe for indoor use. Google Candlelier - they have it at REI. Also, re. tights – it's worth it to splurge on an emergency pair in wool. They're warmer than other materials, even if they get wet (it's always damp here in the winter), and you can wear them for days without washing, without getting that stale laundry smell. I love the mid-weight Ibex footless tights but there are less expensive brands that are probably just as good. They're my new obsession!