Prepare Storms 

The Great Snowpocalypse of 2016

Commuters wait on packed platforms for the Evergreen Line train on it’s first rush day at Commercial Drive Station. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG Vancouver Sun

This preparedness thing ain’t easy sometimes.

Two snow/ice events hit the Pacific Northwest over the tail end of December, 2016, and it was a perfect test of our relative preparedness for a major disaster like the Giant Earthquake that will hit our region.

Weather experts did their best to predict the impact, emergency professionals did their best by staging resources, opening warming centers, and activating their emergency plans, and even with information, planning, technology, know-how, and time to get ready,

Everything all went to hell.

In British Columbia, ICBC claims spiked 13% from just the storm the week preceding. Snow affected power, several people reported ice bombs falling and smashing into their vehicles while they were driving across the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges, it was, in short, a mess.

In Portland, Oregon, on the second “hit” of Winter Weather on December 14, 2016, between noon Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday, 101 crashes were reported in Portland, according to the Bureau of Emergency Communications.

Cars were abandoned all over the Portland metro area, drive times were more like a trip from Portland to Seattle than a commute home, and in a first in my memory, children were separated from their families trapped in school buses unable to get the kids back to school.

Power outages, fallen limbs and debris due to ice, slip and fall injuries, the entire region experienced all of this.

And we were warned. We had time to prepare. Imagine a 9.0 mega earthquake with no warning whatsoever.

This event was a huge wake-up call. If bridges fall, roadways are damaged, or buildings or homes fall, are you prepared?

Do you have a communications plan, is there a plan in place you, your family, and your children know of now if you can’t get to them for whatever reason?

We were snowed in for about 4 days, imagine THREE WEEKS. Three weeks where you can’t get anywhere, three weeks of no cell phones, no internet, no way to get to the grocery store, no MAX, Skytrain, buses, Uber, Lyft, Amazon Prime, three weeks where you are on your own to take care of yourself.

The time to prepare is right now. Today.

Go through every inconvenience you experienced during the recent snowstorm and list them. Write them down. Did you get low on food? Did the power go out? Were you snowed in? Could you get to work? Was your budget affected (many people who don’t get paid time off lost wages)? Were you and loved ones separated, even if only for a few hours?

Think of every little thing that went wrong for you or your loved ones, and everything that was not “normal”. Then start planning, ticking them off one by one.

When we have a snowstorm, we know it’s coming. We can run to the grocery store and stock up. We can decide when and how to go to work or school and when we might want to get home “ahead of the storm”.

The earthquake will hit with no warning whatsoever.

Its effects will last for weeks and months, not days.  If you are worried about being separated from your children or partner, now is the time to make sure your communication plan is in place. Were cell phones charged, do everyone you need to reach have backup batteries? Can you get a hold of each other if cell phones are jammed or down?


What about food? I do this preparedness thing, and I was not really doing great on the food front. My big takeaway is that I want tastier food in my pantry and emergency supply kit, and I’m going to rotate it out. Sure, survival is important, but food is a big deal to me, and man cannot thrive on Cliff Bars and canned soup alone.  I also realised based on my family’s consumption, that I don’t have enough for everybody to last three weeks. I’ll be adjusting my estimate for what people will need and want to eat and restocking.

I neglected to follow my own advice, which is to make sure my gas tank never gets below half. Also, I caught a flat in the snow on a relatively new tire and have decided to have some canned flat fixer in my car kit to avoid having to use a jack  and change to a spare in far less than ideal conditions.

The key to being prepared is to start preparing. You don’t have to do everything all at once.


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