If you were to find any good or advantage to take away from the effects of the recent rains and flooding in the area, it would be this: we now know what has to be fixed! I’m not referring to what the responsibility of the Municipality is, I’m referring to what needs to be done around your own home – things like ensuring drainage ditches are kept clear, that gutters are regularly cleaned, that there is a stock of candles, bottled water and gas to boil a kettle on etc.
These things might seem obvious now and a trifle trite, but those who I have spoken to who DID do these small things, didn’t have as hard a time as some folk, even though they did have some flooding and inconvenience. No events like those that occurred over the last few days can be totally free from incident in spite of being well-prepared, but precautions against the effects of these phenomena can be minimized. The unseasonal storms and excessive water could not be foreseen and thus the shock of its ferocity was even greater – but as we all know, the seasons have changed, things are different with our weather patterns so it stands to reason that there will be other events in the future that may have similar outcomes.
All I’m saying is that to be prepared for the unexpected and to have made some plans “in the event of” it happening again would be wise. Some things may be obvious, some may be considered ridiculous, some may be thought of as being “over the top” …. I submit the following for your consideration:
- Keep your cell phone charged – and have a list of emergency telephone numbers written in a place where you can find them.
- Stay in touch with your family and friends – there is nothing more frustrating than people not knowing where you are or what’s happening, but they DO know that something is happening and are aware that you may be in danger. Make a plan to have them phone you at regular intervals (every hour or so) for a short “I’m ok” conversation. Keep it short to prevent your battery going flat – if necessary switch your phone off but turn it on each time you have a scheduled “check-in.”
- Always keep at least a quarter tank of fuel in your vehicle in case you have to travel unexpectedly.
- Have a rain suit and “wellies” handy.
- Pack a suitcase or backpack with dry clothes and toiletries in case you have to move out temporarily – keep it in a dry place.
- Have a stock of candles, dry matches and a torch with good batteries (check it regularly – every week or so).
- Keep a stock of basic foods in your pantry – with at least one 5-litre bottle of water (change this once a month, too to ensure you have a fresh bottle). If you don’t have a store of water, if an emergency occurs, fill your bath, if you can, with cold water, to use as a reservoir later.
- Keep your important documents in one place (a brief case or easy-to-carry box) that you store high up to avoid water damage in the event of a flood.
- If your place starts to flood, turn off your electricity – move small appliances to higher places if they are threatened.
- Take photos from your cell phone as things develop – for insurance purposes.
- If it’s practical – hook up with friends and spend time together while you sit out the storm. Don’t go driving around on a sight-seeing expedition.
There are many more things one can consider and there will probably be a lot more in the press and on the internet in the days and weeks to come – hopefully this will serve as the start of the process that will ensure that any further events similar to those of the last few days will be minimized.