Are you prepared for when disaster hits?

Joe and Jane in crisis: Part 1 in a series

Are you prepared for  when disaster hits?Almost a year before the historic earthquakes hit Ridgecrest, disaster preparedness expert Robert OBergfell posted the following scenario in September 2018 for hundreds of followers on social media. In this first part of the series, we see disaster hit from Joe’s perspective. Keep reading the News Review for the next installments.


By ROBERT OBERGFELL, Emergency Operations Coordinator

Your Joe, the average American, 2.1 children, mid 30s, 5 foot 10 inches tall and a little dad bod. It’s been a minute since the gym we see. Got a mortgage, a working significant other. It’s late January, you just finished dinner, you and the kids are cleaning the plates in the kitchen.

The news is on in the adjoining room and you’re “listening.” The weatherman says “Cold and clear tonight with lows in the 40s, 60 percent chance of rain with high winds in the forecast tomorrow and wintery weather over the next several days.” You pay no attention — hell, it’s January. You look outside and see the neighbor kids taking out the trash … it’s trash day tomorrow, and you’re in your socks. No big deal — where are those slipons?

And then its happens, without as much as a flicker — NO POWER.

A startled yell from the living room. Instantly from the weather-guesser telling you the norm to the trash needs to be on the street and NOW it’s black. Dark doesn’t describe it. It’s so dark it feels heavy, the air instantly feels thicker.

You look across the street, and you see a flashlight at the house where the kids were and you wonder if there are batteries in the one you have, and if the kids didn’t take them.

You hear them starting to make more noise. As you slowly walk through the now-dark room, calming them, to the front door — there is nothing! No computer screen. No internet. No TV. No night light. You stumble over the shoes you took off and almost knock yourself unconscious against the front door.

You make it outside, and it’s darker than black. The whole city is out. Not just the city, but as far as you can see is black! You almost feel like you’re under pressure. Chest feels heavy, so does the air. Back inside the kids are panicking. Maybe you, too.

You manage to find the flashlight, just where you left it. Thank goodness, as the kids are scared. You then realize that your cellphone hasn’t rung, beeped or pulsed in the last 5.5 minutes. You talk to calm the kids, and find that the 1000-lumen flashlight that you just lased across the faces of the little humans and momentarily blind them make them cry out. If it weren’t so dark, it would almost be funny.

You realize, as they calm down, it’s quiet. Very quiet. You realize the heater is not on. It has an electric ignition. The house feels like the front door is standing open, but you know you just closed it. How did it get so cold?

Minute 12

You move everyone to the kitchen. The stove is in there and you can at least light it with a lighter if the electronic igniters are out … or can you? You hope the lighter is in the drawer. Blankets and jackets for everyone. Including you!

Minute 20

You grab the cell and it lights up, and for the first time maybe in your life, a blank screen. No stars, no bars. Nada, nothing, zilch. It’s out. How does that happen? You remember a radio message once about a land line? Hell, what are those? Many people haven’t had one in decades, or even know what one is, I mean one that self-powers.

You light the blueberry Yankee candle, tell the kids to stay put, and go back outside to see what’s going on.

Out front — flashlights, some sirens, a couple of older cars. Your neighbor asks if you have an extra flashlight and if your phone works. Who doesn’t have a flashlight? Then you recall your own thoughts, 25 minutes old now about your own flashlight and the troubles don’t end there … they just got started …

(To be continued next week ...)

Pictured: Robert OBergfell, with his “go bag,” is ready for anything — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2019-08-02