[caption id="attachment_21588" align="alignright" width="225"]
Photo taken by Jimmy Rivera in College Park, MD.[/caption]
Starting last week, forecasters predicted a massive winter storm Stella would blast the East Coast. Some forecasters
promised 5-8 inches of snow for Washington, D.C. The night before the storm, Jimmy Rivera, of College Park, MD. went to the store to pick up a few things.
“I though, with the storm coming, I’d better get extra supplies and food,” he said.
He had to park at the far edge of the store’s parking lot, because the lot was full. He took about five minutes to grab a few items and got in the express line, the shortest one.
It took him a half hour to get to the front of the line. Other lines traveled down the store’s aisles, to the point that employees had to ask people in line to stand to one side or the other so others could reach the shelves.
“People were acting like it was a category 5 hurricane coming,” Rivera said. “It wasn’t near that.”
At least not in College Park, where the storm dropped only a few inches of snow but added freezing rain that left roads icy, he said. However, in other areas, the storm killed at least 11 people, grounded 6,000 flights and knocked out power to more than a million people in the Midwest and East, according to weather.com
. Winfield, New York, received a record-breaking 42 inches of snow. Some coastal areas flooded, and high wind knocked out power lines and a wind turbine. And, perhaps because of the storm, two ponies escaped their stable
in Staten Island, NY, and went for a stroll.
Rivera and his housemates prepared for the storm in several ways: some effective, some not so much.
All of Rivera’s housemates got permission to telecommute Tuesday. Rivera said they worried about ice and snow on their street, because it is narrow and in an older area that doesn’t get plowed right away. It’s also on a hill with a Y intersection at the bottom.
“Sometimes, when somebody comes down the hill in winter, they slide right into the middle [of the Y], and bam, bam, bam,” Rivera said.
those caught in winter weather to drive only when necessary, travel during the day and with others, stay on the main roads and let someone know their destination, route, and estimated arrival time.
“My housemates and I joked that in the height of [the storm] we should order pizza,” Rivera said.
Rivera was only slightly worried about a power outage, even though he uses a powered sleep apnea machine. About 30,000 customers lost power in Maryland, including a small zoo. The zoo’s owner told The Associated Press
that after the power went out about 6 a.m., employees used portable generators to keep water flowing. Zoo workers also kept shoveling ice and snow to give animals a clear path to food and water.
charging phones and other powered devices before a storm and having an alternate charging method. Alternative power sources are especially important for those who rely on powered medical devices. Keep a car’s gas tank full, but don’t run it or any other alternative power source in an enclosed or partially enclosed space. If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food from spoiling.
Rivera’s home has a gas stove, so he wasn’t worried about cooking. Ready.gov says don’t use a gas stove for heat, though. Bundle up instead.
“The house has no generator, so we’d all have been blanketed up,” he said.
Rivera had no emergency supplies. In fact, he forgot to buy shaving cream, deodorant, soap, and laundry soap before the storm.
“I didn’t remember until I was unloading groceries, because I just wanted to get in and out,” he said.
Fortunately, snowplows had cleared the roads by Wednesday morning, so he was able to travel to the store. Had the storm been worse, he might not have had that option.
A story in USA Today recommended
people keep a week’s worth of food and safety supplies in the home, including water, canned food, prescription drugs, ice melting tools, and battery-powered lights and radio.
On the bright side, Rivera has a few days to prepare before the next storm. Another storm is moving across the country
and might bring some rain to Washington, D.C., on Saturday.