2 minute readDisaster

Dispatch from the Blizzard

Cape Code snow on coast

Whenever a significant storm approaches my area, I am known as the one in my neighborhood who shops for non-perishable culinary delights, fills up my gas tank, stocks up on supplies, tests my battery-powered flashlights and makes sure to have enough cash on hand in case there are widespread outages. I carefully lay out layers of clothing and check in with neighbors in case we need to evacuate at any point. I have Red Cross apps downloaded on my phone to help me find shelters and pet-friendly hotels should I have to leave with my beloved German Shepherd. I have a “go kit” ready with chargers, contacts, medication and supplies.

Many of my friends laugh at my regular and unwavering routine, and they occasionally ask why I am so laser focused on my pre-storm preparations.

My Family’s Story: The Blizzard of 1978

When I was a little girl, I lived through the notorious blizzard of ’78. I was at home with my mother and six brothers and sisters as the storm pummeled Boston with unusually high winds, multiple feet of snow and drifts that easily could swallow kids my age. We lost electricity for days and soon grew low on supplies.

My dad took the last bus out of town after work and ended up getting stuck along the way with a host of other motorists who had to abandon their vehicles. He had to seek shelter in a hotel room with other stranded people. I vividly remember looking out the window for days wondering if my dad was safe in the storm and when would he return home.

When my father finally reached us, his time at home was short. He was soon picked up by the National Guard to help with the distribution of much-needed funds for people who needed to get things like food and gas.

Eventually, I ventured out to the supermarket with my mother and grandmother to try to get supplies for our family. We learned that due to the unprecedented need stores were rationing milk and supplies. The milk went to my baby sisters and we older kids made due.

The storm and aftermath were traumatic but it also was a learning experience that began my lifetime commitment to be prepared.

Preparing for a Blizzard Today

Now, 39 years later, I am proud to work for the Red Cross and help respond during disasters to assist others in need. I have responded to Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes in Alabama, Superstorm Sandy and other disasters along the way.

We just had a blizzard/nor’easter where I live, and once again I prepared to weather the storm. Some of my top tips from the Red Cross include the following:

  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full.  A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Put together a supply kit (find a supplies list here).
  • Listen to the authorities and heed the call to shelter in place when needed.
  • Check on your neighbors and seniors in your area to see how you can be helpful during and after the storm.
  • Don’t forget that blood donors are encouraged to roll up a sleeve once a storm has passed and travel is deemed safe.

We are expecting more snow this weekend. Needless to say, I will be prepared and I am already watching the weather reports and listening to local authorities. Don’t forget to download the Red Cross Emergency App to stay alert and prepare for whatever heads your way.

Red cross blood truck covered in snow