Published July 11, 2016
When’s the last time your lights went out? Or your gas? Or your water? We’ve all been there at one time or another. Some interruptions last just a few minutes; some for hours. In not-so-rare instances, large swaths of populations can be inconvenienced for days, weeks or even months. Take the flooding that devastated the Village of Hatch in August of 2006, for example.
Almost all of the community’s 1,600 residents were forced to evacuate, according to a report issued at the time by the National Weather Service. Some were eventually able to resume leading normal lives after repairing the damage caused by the floodwaters. Others, such as the 200 residents of the Los Caballos apartment complex, would never return home. Eighty of those residents, who had no other housing alternatives, were forced to live in FEMA trailers for up to a year before finding suitable replacement housing.
One thing we all have in common when we find ourselves facing that surreal moment in time when realize we’ve lost our connection to the grid (or in my case misplaced my smartphone) is that we have no idea how long the outage will last. That’s why it’s important to have plans in place to deal with any service interruption or disaster that may come our way. I used the word “plans” because it’s a good idea to have two: One that will sustain you in-place for a minimum of 3-days, and another in support of an evacuation.
The internet is full of tips about disaster preparedness, and www.ready.gov is one of them. The site is replete with lists for about every situation imaginable. From knowing how to receive alerts from local officials (try www.nixle.com) to what to do with Fido and grandpa when calamity strikes, it’s all there. Disaster preparedness information is also available from the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security (www.nmdhsem.org).
Most of us are of the opinion that we won’t be affected by a natural or man-made disaster. That’s because we don’t typically take into consideration situations like wildfires that interrupt major electric transmission lines elsewhere in the state or region, chemical or biological spills from trucks or trains, arson, earthquakes, extreme weather, drought, explosions, and a myriad of other possibilities that can interrupt our lives for unknown lengths of time.
Speaking of interruptions, the Denver Post reported on March 23, 2016 that a whopper of a snowstorm left 290,000 area residents without power for up to 18-hours. How many of those people had a disaster plan in place? According to FEMA, only 39 percent of us do. If Denverites are like the rest of us, almost 177,000 of them were scrambling to find candles, batteries and toilet paper at some point during the storm. Will you be one of “those” people when your lights go out?
See you at closing!
Gary Sandler is a full-time Realtor and owner of Gary Sandler Inc., Realtors in Las Cruces. He can be reached at Gary@GarySandler.com or (575) 642-2292.