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Back from West Virginia nightmare: A prepper’s saga
Monday, 16 July 2012 17:25

EDITOR’S NOTE: Scott Richardson, a resident of Blowing Rock and a “prepper,” wrote this essay below on July 2. It is reprinted here with his permission.



We are back from West Virginia — land of no power.

If I hadn’t had 1/4-tank of gas left, we would still be stuck there.

The entire state (West Virginia) is out, and no one seems to care. People are stranded up and down the interstate. There is no gas anywhere.

We saw people camping out in front of gas stations on chairs, and parking their cars under underpasses to stay cool. They had run out of gas.

Many cars are abandoned along the roads as people ran out of gas, and had no where to go. We didn’t see any emergency vehicles — no one handing out gas either. You were pretty much stuck where you ran out of gas.

We used our Cracker Barrel map to start calling restaurants, trying to figure who had power. The one in Wytheville, Va., said there was no power north of the tunnels, but they had power, so we decided to head out there.

Our hotel had no power the entire time we were there, no AC (98 degrees) and cold showers. All the restaurants, food stores and gas stations were closed. We saw one gas station with about a mile-long line. They soon ran out of gas.

More gas stations need to have generators. They had gas, but could not pump it. No one took credit cards either — cash only. It was spooky.

Cellphones worked in some areas, but no data — voice only.

Several survival things I learned from this experience include the following:

1) Keep the tank half-full when traveling —  don’t let it go down to 1/4. Fill up whenever you arrive at your hotel, before checking in. Have enough gas to get out of Dodge, if things go bad. Power outages have no warnings. Most all of the gas stations had no generators. Maybe they should have — at least the large truckstops on the interstate. The town we were in had one station open Saturday morning, a mile long of cars and they eventually ran out of gas.

2) Keep at least $50-$100 in cash in the car. The gas stations can’t take credit cards with the power out. We saw signs that said, “Cash Only.”

3) Keep food, water and snacks with you. Nothing was open. It was like a ghost town by Saturday.

4) The car radio only had one station — useless. Lack of news was a big problem. My police radio would have been handy. No one knew how widespread this was. Most thought it was just a few local trees down — and that the power would be back in a few hours.

5) Don’t hang around town if you think you can make it out. You are just adding to the problem.

6) AA LED flashlights came in very handy, as the hotel was totally dark. I had two flashlights in the car with extra Lithium AA batteries — $8 at the Blowing Rock Hardware Store. I’m keeping them in my luggage from now on, with two extra AA batteries each.

Today I’m buying some more AA LED flashlights ($8) and putting extra AA Lithiums in the car and my suitcases. The batteries have a 12 year shelf life, and work a very long time, especially on something like a LED bulb.

We also bought some large Sears C3 Rechargeable Lithium Batteries (the snap on tool batteries), and two emergency lights (LED and Florescent) and a Weather Radio, that all run off the same C2 19.2V batteries. Same battery my weedwacker uses. These will be in the house, always fully charged.

POSTSCRIPT: Richardson wrote the following to the Daily Planet on July 3:


This isn’t my first power outage. I spent Christmas 2009 stuck up here (Blowing Rock) for five days without power — and 11 days without a phone.

I highly recommend a portable police radio and AA batteries. This (the radio) was my only outside line of communications. Even if it was only one-way, I knew what was going on, and how far they were making their way up the mountain to rescue people.

The manager at the hotel in Lewisburg, W.Va., said the power came on this morning (July 3) — four days later ...

Now I’m fighting with the hotel manager. They want me to pay for the night we didn’t stay there in the dark with cold showers.

We have heard of people going up from Boone to rescue people in West Virginia, bringing gas, food and water.



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