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Chattanooga was hit hard by severe weather, and I wasn’t adequately prepared. Are you?

If you’re like me, as wave after wave of violent storms bore down upon our area yesterday, you realized that your emergency plan might need a tune-up.

After weathering the storm in our offices here at Rock/Creek’s 2 North Shore location — during which the side of an adjacent building was torn partially off — I decided it would be wise to head home. After all, the local news outlets were predicting the second wave would be worse than the original one. So I drove to my house, the sky blackening behind me on the highway as I headed east, and upon arriving I realized I didn’t have any kind of plan. OK, I’m here… now what?

The storm was upon us, and I didn’t have time to gather emergency supplies of any kind. I grabbed a rain jacket, my wife and dog ran into the basement, and I had a moment or two to watch the old oak tree in our front yard sway ominously toward the house. Standing there in my rain shell, I wondered if I should put my climbing helmet on, or whether it was worth dashing out to the car for a headlamp; our basement is windowless, and surely we were about to lose power. Did I have a fuel canister for my backpacking stove? Where was the first aid kit?

In the end, we were lucky. Our house is still there, our friends and family are still alive, we didn’t need to make use of an emergency kit. Unfortunately, many people in our area were not as lucky as we were. Whether you’re getting ready to deal with an extended power outage or you’re being proactive and planning for next time, Rock/Creek urges you to put together an emergency kit.

All of the emergency gear lists I see online say to have a flashlight and extra batteries, but an LED headlamp is much more convenient to use and will last a lot longer on those batteries than that cheap incandescent flashlight in your junk drawer. A small backpacking stove, fuel canister and just-add-water backpacking foods provide an easy way to cook a meal in any situation. Having a water filter on-hand will make sure you have drinking water, should you lose service. Make sure you have a rain shell, and a fleece jacket in case disaster strikes during cold weather.

On another note, folks in the Chattanooga area are in need. Ringgold, GA was especially hard-hit, and the American Red Cross is asking desperately for blood donations. If you can’t afford to donate money, please consider giving blood.