How Badly Would A Disaster Affect You?
If you are, indeed, one of those lucky souls who has found beautiful beachfront property, or if you live in an apartment building with sea exposures, my best advice is to move farther inland. If you're the resident of a coastal area, I know this is by far the most difficult advice to take. But, if Steinbruner and his team of experts are right, your chances of losing everything are far too high for my comfort.
No one's saying that a storm will hit in the next 30 days, and with about 20 percent of Americans moving each year, chances are you might be antsy and ready for a move before any dangerous weather strikes your neighborhood. If you are, I'd suggest, find someplace on high (and not prone to mudslides) ground.
It's not just coastal residents who should consider their address. I lived in Charlotte, N.C., in my early 20s, and one of my colleagues had the sweetest starter home… right in the flood plain. Many of the rivers and creeks had been largely paved over, but the water has a way of going where it wants to. The second time she had to put all her downstairs furniture in the Dumpster, she started looking for a new house, one on a hill.
Second: How do you heat your home?While it's altogether possible to live without electric lights and phone chargers for weeks on end, as Sandy victims are demonstrating, heat is another matter altogether. And electricity systems can be disrupted for the wealthy on their mountaintops and the less wealthy in their riverside neighborhoods in equal measures. Relying on electric heat can be more expensive (and, thanks to all the coal power Americans still use, far worse for our descendants' chances against Mother Nature) and entirely unreliable in a power outage. In a perfect world, you would have a high-efficiency natural-gas furnace with some ability to get it going in the absence of electricity. The problem of lighting the igniter is worth looking into, if you already have gas. Planning on redoing the heat in your home? You should think about the new high-efficiency wood stoves. They give off a lot less carbon than their forebears, and I can guarantee you they'll work the same without electricity. (This, by the way, is the top of my wish list; if I have a windfall any time soon, it's going to one of these.) Don't live in a perfect world? Consider buying a propane heater and stocking enough propane to get you through a couple of weeks. While you're at it, a propane cook stove isn't a bad idea, either; and in post-summer sales you can usually pick one up cheap. Third: Getting around You probably already know I am a bicyclist, and I have to admit to feeling a sense of self-reliance when I heard about all the traffic in Manhattan post-Sandy; and how the people were taking to their bicycles. No long lines for gas for me!
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