This past month, many that I talked to had been scrambling as Hurricane Irene approached to complete a flurry of last-minute preparations. It was reported that there hadn’t been a hurricane to hit Massachusetts since 1996, and many people were anticipating power outages and the loss of telephone, internet, and water access. One of our neighbors rushed out to the store the day before the Hurricane was predicted to hit Boston, and returned to tell us that it took him at least fifteen minutes to just find a parking spot. He said that it was a zoo at the store, and people were clearing the shelves (if they weren’t already) of water bottles, fruits, canned foods, batteries, etc. This conversation gave me food for thought. I couldn’t help but wonder amid the clamor if the sum total of the collective anxiety wasn’t one of the great (and unnecessary) costs of this very costly natural disaster.
On the other hand, not everyone faced these anxieties and concerns as the storm approached. I was pleased to hear several calm and practical voices all around me, for instance, members of our wards (congregations) and neighbors. For example, several friends and composed neighbors gave advice about filling our bathtub with water to use for the toilet and washing, getting bags of ice or making our own and putting them in a cooler to store perishable items in case the power went out. One of these voices of calm that I have learned to appreciate more and more over the years is that of the our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As members of the church, we believe in living prophets and apostles, who have been called of God to guide us for our times. One of the things that members of the Church have been encouraged and guided to do, is to prepare for emergencies, of all kinds, i.e. natural disasters, unemployment, etc. Our family (although living on a graduate student stipend) have made efforts to follow this counsel, and in doing so, the results were practicality and peace of mind. We had enough food to last us at least two weeks or more, and drinking water gallons in the basement. Unfortunately, we found our 72 hour kits incomplete and we were thankful that evacuation wasn’t necessary.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I am grateful for that inspired counsel and for those in our community who sought to help one another feel some of the peace of preparedness during this storm. It’s during moments like these that I realize that emergency preparedness and food storage can be practical and reasonable. It isn’t something we need to be fanatical about, and in the end, that practically leads to peace of mind.