Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness for the average Indie Theatre Artist

Contributed by Shay Gines

I would like to give some tips for preparing for the Hurricane.  I usually send out preparedness advice only to friends, but someone said that I should post it on our blog and so... I am.

"Shay, what qualifies you to give any tips for hurricane preparedness?" You may be asking yourself. And that my friend is a fair question.

The real answer is nothing. I am not an expert. However, for six years I worked for a national disaster preparedness organization and while I was only the office manager and certainly do NOT have any degrees or credentials in disaster preparations, I was instrumental in creating a number of preparedness guides and did tons of research. And you know, I picked up a few things. So this is what I've learned, take it for what it is worth.

First off, the hurricane will probably not be as scary as the news makes it out to be and for most of us will more likely be an interesting and exciting day that will end up in stories and plays for the next couple of seasons. However, it currently looks like it will hit NYC as a category 2 hurricane, which is stronger than was originally thought, so you do need to be cautious.

There will probably be some power outages and depending on the extent of the outages, it could take several hours to get it back up.

The MTA has already said that it will be halting all service and expects that there will be some damage due to flooding. So... it may be some time before it is all up and running again.

The real danger is from flying objects (such as lawn furniture or wind chimes) that the wind picks up and whips around. So of course you should stay indoors.

For those folks outside of the evacuation zones, here are some preparations that you can make:
  • Have a working flashlight and batteries. You might also want to buy an extra candle or two.
  • Charge your cell phone and any spare batteries in advance. Same thing for laptops.
  • Back up any important data in advance and turn off desktop computers during the brunt of the storm.
  • Make sure you have some clean water available (fill a pitcher before you go to bed Saturday).
  • Make sure you have 3 days worth of snacks and food that can be prepared without the use of electricity. (also take a look in your refrigerator and think about perishable items should the power go out)
  • After the 2003 blackout you couldn't use any of the ATMs or buy things from stores that used electronic cash registers so get some extra cash in advance, including some small bills.
  • Bring in any objects on your stoop, balcony or fire escape - this includes window air-conditioners.
  • If you have a car, park it on the highest ground you can find and away from trees.
  • Make sure someone knows where you will be.
  • If you have theatre tickets, call the theatre in advance and find out if they are planning to provide refunds or a rain date.

Here are some tips from people who actually do have degrees and credentials at the Red Cross

You can track the storm on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website and they provide news about the storm without all the hype.

And here is a pretty funny article to help keep it all in perspective: Brooklyn's Guide to Hurricane Preparedness by Choire Sicha.

Be safe!

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