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Sunday, March 29, 2020
In September, 2003 a hurricane named Isabel came, and the resultant bad weather hit our Mid-Atlantic farm and much of our state. Multiple large oaks blew over the gravel entrance road to our farm, and our two chain saws were insufficient to cut them up remove them. Power poles became piles of matchsticks in the area. Power might not be restored for months, we were told. Warm winds and heavy rains continued. On that particular farm we depended upon electricity to pump water both for animal use and for our own. We couldn't even get out to get additional bottled water. We did well because we'd had almost two weeks notice in order to line new plastic trash cans with plastic liners from Sam's Club and to store twenty-five large new trash cans with water for the animals. We filled every water container we had for us, and we also filled three bathtubs.
Although there was a long waiting list for tree experts who would cut and remove large trees, our neighbor found one, and asked if he could cut one large tree for us while the professionals were there. It was a good thing he did because when the tree was partially still held in the deep soil and when it was cut it snapped back, nearly killing the man doing the cutting. Afterward, with the toughest tree work done, we were able to use our chainsaws to clear and path from the farm to get out.
At that time we owned only a small generator, and we were able to charge some things so that our kids were able to watch television. As a result, we learned that our power company was giving away a package of dry ice to each family, and a couple of large packages of water in small bottles, but that they were doing so many miles from our home. Still, we could pick up the freebies and buy some food and extra supplies, so we happily loaded the most rugged vehicle we had and made the trip.
We were early to the hand out, and so was everyone else. The power company had far fewer of the items than the demand seemed to be. The packages of water and dry ice for refrigerators went quickly. Most of the people who showed up for the distribution were women with kids from the fairly wealthy suburb of Glen Allen. As the supplies dwindled only to three units, women who'd arrived in Land Rovers and Mercedes Benz SUVs began to fight over bottled water and the remaining few ice packs.
We had remained because we thought that when the initial offerings were gone, the power company might have another pallet of them, but they did not. We left immediately not wanting to get into a brawl or to have our children who'd come, witness women injuring or perhaps killing each other.
It took only a couple of weeks without power to turn wealthy soccer moms into women who would fight over and take bottled water from another family, just like their own, while her own children actually watched. The facade of politeness or decency was completely gone.
At the time, I wondered what they would have done is faced with a protracted emergency. In some ways, we have a protracted emergency now. If supplies became truly hard to find, what would soccer moms, and everyone else choose to do ?
When you do choose to go out into the world during COVID-19, take reasonable precautions in self protection. The mask and the gloves are a good idea. Change your clothes and take a shower, washing your hair also, on your return home.
Most of all understand that in difficult times, many people jump to thinking their survival is at stake, often when it isn't, and they will quickly move on to feeling justified in either out and out theft or even in looting. Don't be paranoid, but be cautious during this time, and for many areas, the COVID-19 emergency has just begun.