Disaster Planning

Post-Sandy Disaster Planning


Water Buffalo Storage

How will you and your staff and patrons cope during and after a major weather event? Price gouging and panic buying all contribute to the detrimental effects of a disaster and anxiety over a potential disaster.

In Rhode Island, as soon as there is a storm approaching or the threat of a storm approaching  – hurricane – tropical – or snow – the local population typically goes out and buys all of the bread and milk out off the store shelves. They also buy up loads of bottled water and batteries.

When the power goes out, what are they going to do with all of that milk?  Batteries eventually discharge. Bottled water is not environmentally friendly, can cost 500 times as much as tap water and may even be very low quality.  If water service is interrupted and a water buffalo is all that is available – refilling bottles for daily needs is ineffective.


Rhode Island – with the exception of the south-west coastal area – was very lucky during Sandy compared to New Jersey and NYC. We were spared much of the rain and our storm surge was less. After going through many potential and real weather emergencies in Rhode Island and coastal North Carolina, I was determined not to be price gouged or ill-prepared for weather.  Rather than scurry around trying to find items in high demand, I decided to put together a few items that can bring relative comfort when your infrastructure is compromised.  It takes me about 10 minutes to get ready for an infrastructure disaster.  Here is my short list:

Water Bag

Water Carrier

Coleman Expandable Water Carrier http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Expandable-Water-Carrier-5-Gallon/dp/B000088O9Y– because your own tap water is much cheaper than bottled water and you can flatten out this jug and store it anywhere – you can also refill it from available water supplies efficiently – such as with a Water Buffalo deployed by the National Guard.

Portable Butane Stove

Butane Stove

Portable Butane Gas Stove  http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Butane-Stove-With-GASONE/dp/B001V72U36 – this will boil water – cook a skillet of food fast and is highly portable – a cartridge of butane lasts for a long time

Powdered Milk http://www.walmart.com/ip/10415475?adid=22222222227009265766 – doesn’t go bad for a long time – just mix what you need – this can be even cheaper than regular milk.

D Light Solar Lighting

Solar Led Lamps http://www.amazon.com/d-light-S10-Solar-LED-Lantern/dp/B004B924OG/ – cheap, bright effective lighting

Hand Crank Radio

Hand Crank Radio

Hand Crank Radio http://www.amazon.com/Ambient-Weather-Emergency-Flashlight-Certified/dp/B0071BTJPI/ – stay connected – recharge your cell-phones – even though you might not have service from damaged cell towers

Coffee Pot

Coffee Pot http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-14-Cup-Enamelware-Coffee-Percolator/dp/B0009PUQI2 – boil water, make coffee, keep alert, stay happy!

This kit is just a little over $100.  You can also purchase all sorts of long-lasting food supplies. But, all of these items can also be used for camping – so your emergency kit has more that one purpose and will save you time and energy in the event of a disaster or the disaster that never comes.
I think I purchased the butane stove for around $20.  I have read that you can use them indoors like a regular burner on top of your regular stove.  The D-lights are very nice too – just leave them sitting in window sills in case the power ever goes out and they are always charged. They were developed for tropical conditions and are quite durable.  There are also lots of options with the hand-crank radios now and lower prices by quantity.  A five gallon collapsible container for water contains about as much as case of bottled water that can easily cost much more. If you calculate the cost of having to drive around and get the water, then it is even more and the quality of the water may be even less.  Powdered milk has a very long shelf-life and the cost at WalMart may be less than regular milk from the store.
With the portable stove, the Coffee Pot and a hot-water bottle, you can provide a nice source of warmth when temperatures fall.  Just heat up the water, pour it in the hot-water bottle and you can keep the chill off.  Most people I have met are fairly well prepared to go without infrastructure for about three days.  The items above can keep you somewhat comfortable longer than that.  The D-Lights I have used on low settings keep lit for about 8 hours.  Just set them back in the light during the daytime, and you have decent lighting overnight.  The hand crank radio / charger will keep you connected after your stock of batteries are depleted.  The butane stove cartridges will last a very long time.


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Les cartes postale francaise: French Postcards


Last month I joined a small tour group for Discover France, part of the Explorer series through TopDeck, a British travel company specializing in travel tours for ages 18-39.  Of the 12 of us on the tour, eleven hailed from Australia; I was the only American. Because we visited so many places, I’ll write about my favorite spots during the trip.

The first 2 1/2 days were in Paris.  It was wonderful to be back where I’d been a summer study aboard undergrad student 8 years ago. (More on that later) Our hotel was near the La Fourche Métro stop. On the first full day, I started off the day by attending 10:30 am Sunday Mass at St-Michel, a short walk from our hotel.  After Mass, I returned to the hotel, grabbed my camera, and set out. In the Métro station, I bought a 2 day unlimited pass, good for riding all the public transport in Paris. It was a great investment! I visited a few places I’d missed as well as a few new ones.  At the ticket office at Invalides, I bought a 2 day Paris museum pass good for visiting a number of participating museums.

On the road

Bayeux Tapestry

Bayeux: I had seen the famed tapestry depicting the 1066 Conquest but hadn’t seen the town on my previous visit 8 years earlier.  The old town is small and can be quiet during off season. Because the Germans occupied the town during WWII, it was spared destruction when Allied Forces arrived in June 1944.  The cathedral is magnificent to visit. You can see double portraits of William the Conquerer and Queen Matilda on the main doors.

King François I

Château de Chambord: This magnificent château was built for King François I, now a national museum. I really loved touring this place–the rooms featured portraits of the members of the French royal family, art, furniture, and other decorative objects.  There is a small church adjacent to the château; it’s worth visiting too.

Hennessey in Cognac: Here we took a tour of the production warehouses and had tastings of cognac.  I didn’t know how much time and vintages are used to produce cognac.  The older vintages (some dating back to the 18th century) are locked in a separate storage room.  You can buy cognac in the factory store.

Bordeaux & St-Emilion: It was fun discovering the history in both of these towns as well as sampling the famed wine.  We visited a winery in St-Emilion and spent time exploring the town.  The monolithic church can be visited by guided tour only which can be reserved at the visitor’s center.  Also in town, there’s one building dating back to Roman times!  There are steep cobbled streets so I had to be careful walking on it. Back in Bordeaux, I visited the cathedral and the Aquintaine History Museum which is housed in an old university building.  The permanent exhibit is free and provides a fascinating history of the region.

Carcassonne: Home to a well-preserved medieval fortfied castle and battlements. We stayed at the historic Hotel Terminus overnight in the ‘new’ part of the city.

Avignon: Former home of the papacy during the 14th century. The papal palace and its environs are fascinating to explore.

Annecy: This was the last stop on our tour.  Either from the historic château overseeing the city or by the lake, the views of the French Alps are fantastic. We ended the our last night together here as a group with dinner followed by drinking at a local pub.

Back in Paris after the tour ended, I stayed at the Hotel Minerve on Rue des Ecoles, not far from the famed Université de Paris IV–Sorbonne or simply known as La Sorbonne, in the Latin Quarter.  I passed the evening in the Latin Quarter, walking around and had dinner at a café. A wonderful ending to the trip!

Eiffel Tower

Earlier I mentioned this was my 2nd time in Paris. In July 2004, I was a summer study aboard student through the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS); French language classes for foreign students were offered at the Sorbonne. When I completed the summer program, I had enough credits to declare a French language minor.  My time at the Sorbonne was worthwhile.  Although I’m still not fluent in French, I’ve had the opportunities to practice my speaking with Francophone patrons who’ve come to the library. (Note: Entry to the Sorbonne and its other academic buildings is restricted to those with valid university id or by prior arrangements; this is enforced by their security officers)

During my free time, I explored Paris, and visited a number of popular sites. I also went on a day excursion to Chartres and a weekend excursion to St-Malo, a port city in Brittany, and its surrounding environs. Going to Paris remains one of the best things I’ve done as an undergrad.

Part 2: France in travel books and music



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The Publib archives from the Webjunction listserve are available here: Archives  (Wait – they really aren’t anymore).

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