Skip to main content
The National Preparedness Community

Tell Us Your Stories!

Many members of this community have lots of informative preparedness stories. Can you name one that is most memorable? If so, please share with us!

Modified by Thomas Francisco - Community Manager (Contractor) - GovDelivery (1 year ago)
David Pressler 1 year ago   Reply

As a firefighter for Miami Dade County during Hurricane Andrew I witnessed what I consider Luck for Miami and Broward Counties.  At the Cutler Ridge fire house our bay doors blew in, Homestead Air Force Base hangars destroyed along with Miami Dade's hangar and helicopter.  I saw concrete tie beams peeled back into a C shape almost

It was at this time I became aware of the need for people to have either better construction or safe rooms.  If ths storm has been 30 miles north the death toll would have been dramatic.  You see if your home is not tornado proof it is not hurricane proof, any wood roof is weak in a hurricane or tornado episode.

Afterwards we who worked this area for years could not find locations all the landmarks were gone, no gps back then.

From this incident I began to build SafeDomes a personal transportable storage shed that can withstand continuous winds of 200 mph or more.

Every mobile home community should have a local disaster shelter within the community amazing most mobile home parks in Florida prevent installation of a safe room?

From this I have evolved into constructing monolithic concrete structures and attempting to take mobile homes off the grid encapsulating them in closed cell foam.

INRCHLD Bidwell 1 year ago   Reply

This, in my opinion is a brilliant solution to a problem in any area with weather damage conditions as we have here in Florida. I am not affiliated in any way with Monolithic but I feel they've created an excellent , affordable solution to safe, eco friendly weather worthy housing. I would love to see a Florida " dome park " like a mobile home park go up as a rental community so people would have a chance to experience living safely and economically and in this economy we know there are many of us in that position so what better than to live in a home you can afford and most importantly be the safest in. Why I feel a rental community is just so people can see if they can be comfortable in the dome shaped home prior to investing in a permanent home.

Dave Sparks 1 year ago   Reply

The thought of a domed city (gotta resist thinking about Logan's Run) is intriguing, although I live in the heart of Southern California earthquake country where hurricanes are nearly non-existent. I must Google the topic more. I'm assuming that the architecture would be tornado-resistant, at least to anything but an F-5.

INRCHLD Bidwell 1 year ago   Reply

We live in Gulfport, Florida. The city motto: " If it's to weird for Gulfport it's to weird "  It's a very eclectic artsy community. A 3 sq mile burb just yards from Boca Ciega Bay. There is a dome home within it that I stumbled over some months ago! Two domes, one a garage. I think our area would be very accepting and welcoming of such a little village. Our town buildings have murals of sea birds, seascapes and pets on them as this community welcomes pets as much as people. There is some land yet available. A small group of 6 cabins would seem perfect of various sizes would seem excellent. My mental picture is of a xeroscaped pretty little park with these small efficient homes and paths among them with a central gathering place for bbq, a laundry dome for those who could not afford their own personal laundry and perhaps a victory garden type plot. My crazy gut feeling is this could pave the way to an appreciation to something long needed.

Yay or Nay to this thought? Would you invest in this as part of a group of investors?

  • Please simply respond with why you would or would not consider this a good idea.
  • Please respond to the second question regardless of your financial ability.

This poll closed on Dec 11th 2012

A Mt Gal R.N. 1 year ago   Reply


In 1992 the Old Gulch Fire was racing towards our development.My husband insisted on going to work while I packed up the important stuff.  I had the t.v. on, keeping track of the evacuation orders, while packing and moving 3 cars. My husband got through just in time for us to leave and go up the mountain to the ski resort, our designated shelter.I couldn't find the remote control to turn the t.v. off as we were leaving, I realized it really didn't matter so off we went. Back then, no animals were allowed in shelters so we took our tent and set it up with the cats and us for 3 days. One day I was dumping out a bag of misc stuff I had stashed and the t.v. remote control was there :) :) Since we were at a shelter with NO t.v. the kids were so happy thinking we had a t.v. in our tent. To this day, 20 years later, when we can't find the remote we say to look in the evacuation bag.Not all stories have to be sad and miserable, but we can all learn, even from the funny ones.

Matt Green 1 year ago   Reply

When Hurricane Irene hit last year, a row of 1st floor apartments began to flood in my complex, de to a stream that overflowed and diverted. Myself and the tenant manager got throught chest high water tot he building and helped rescue 2 elderly gentlemen from their apartments. One of them did not know his apartment was flooded until he put his feet down from his bed.

While one of the tenants did call the police and fire dept., due to the conditions and stretching of resources, we saw no emergency vehicle or any other agencies for 2 days. As a former EMT, the experience reminded me that often it is the indivdual citizen rather than an agency or even a CERT team that can make the difference in the responce to an emergency. Unfortunately, in some locales, goverment level emergency agencies frown upon orgainized citizen groups which they see as usurping their authority. It's an old story which while improving, is certainly not extinct.
Mary Jo Flynn 1 year ago   Reply

As an emergency manager, I had always encouraged my family to be prepared for emergencies, including buying them kits for birthdays, holidays, etc.  When my father became ill and required a breathing machine, powered wheelchair, powered lifts and a number of other powered medical devices, I pleaded with my family to buy a generator, extra batteries and be prepared.  The response I received, "Nothing that bad will happen here; we'll just put Dad in the van and can use that power for his chair and breathing."

Well, as luck would have it, the power did go out.  While my parents had made the utility company aware of my father's needs, he would still be out of power for at least an hour, maybe longer.

My uncle, an electrician, (Ironic, I know) rushed to his shop to procure a generator.  He returned only to discover it was empty and needed fuel.  My mother an aunt tried to move my dad to the garage to put him in the van as planned.  However, with the height and shape of the van there was no way they could reach the emergency release cord to open the garage.  We all know, a running car inside a garage is bad emergency planning advice.

My cousin pulled his car around which happened to have an inverter, and procured a 100' extension cord from the garage.  He parked outside near the front yard and ran the cord to my father's breathing machine. 

Until that point most of my family had patted me on the head wondering what I do for as an emergency manager, lovingly referring to me as their Chicken Little with skys falling and nightmares of power outages, earthquakes and other disasters. 

What my family didn't realize is that every plan has the opportunity for failure.  Good planning allows us to overcome failure with creative solutions including making sure we have the proper tools and resources readily available to put new plans into action.

Needless to say, my family are converts.  They now buy one another preparedness items for birthdays and holidays and share the story of how even little inconveniences to most can be larger disasters to those who don't prepare properly.

Debra Williams 1 year ago   Reply

Mary Jo - thank you so much for sharing your story!  That is amazing!  Would you be okay with me sharing this story with all of the groups I am working with?  I think it really makes the need to prepare real.  Too many people don't think they need to prepare to the level you are talking about.

Gary Sears 1 year ago   Reply

I run a company dedicated to supplying a portion of emergency kits that consumers use to document and describe their medical needs and is very useful when an emergency separates them from medical care or their medical records. It has proven to be critical and life saving to those with essential prescription needs as well a chronic illness. Certainly it is needed for all elderly. The book is called "The Health Advocate Guide" and is available on Amazon or our website. Every person should have a copy and fill it out. It does include legal documents and end of life directives. We also train people to be Health Advocate Guides as their own business.

NPM Team - FEMA 1 year ago   Reply

A very powerful story. You can find the original article here.

N.J. Woman Swam From Home To Get To ER Job After Sandy (ASBPP)

Asbury Park (NJ) Press, November 19, 2012

The first thing Marsha Hedgepeth did when she moved into her home three years ago was count the steps from the front door to her second-floor apartment, a preparatory measure for future grocery-lugging.


Then Sandy hit, and the superstorm provided her with another reference guide.

She now knows that it takes about a half hour to swim from her doorstep, in the riverside neighborhood of Gilford Park, to about two blocks from the eastbound side of Route 37, roughly the length of two football fields. She also knows that it's a 5-minute drive from the highway to the hospital where she works, if taken by utility truck.

"You know you just have to be there," said Hedgepeth, 43. "You're never going to have enough staff in a state of emergency."

Hedgepeth's bosses at Community Medical Center said they would have understood had she not shown up for her 3 p.m. shift as an emergency room technician Oct. 30, the day after Sandy struck, given the circumstances.

A tributary of the town's namesake river flows alongside her neighborhood, rising during the storm and flooded the area. Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said the waterline reached more than 4 feet in some areas of town, including Gilford Park.

Having lost power to her home, Hedgepeth saw no reason to sit in the dark and the cold while several miles west her colleagues in the emergency department were hooking up patients to oxygen tanks and suturing lacerations, "lots of lacerations," caused by Sandy's punch.

"We are the first responders. The tougher the circumstances is when you do come to work," she said.

Also, her cell phone wasn't getting any reception.

"How could I have called out when I didn't have a phone?"

Swim, then hitch

So Hedgepeth threw her phone and blue work scrubs into a plastic A&P grocery bag, then outfitted herself for what she expected would be a cold, dirty swim in the water waiting outside: jeans, old sneakers, a scarf, a hat and gloves, she said.

In the precious calm after the storm, she freestyle-stroked her way past the flotsam of Sandy's rage: decks, a lifeguard box used for ropes, a bench with the Stewart's Root Beer logo.

"I don't know if it's from Seaside or Fischer Boulevard," she said.

A regular surfer, Hedgepeth cut her way inland through the sludgy water for what she calculated was just less than a half hour, until the water level was low enough for her to bring her 5-foot-4 frame upright, she said.

Plastic bag in hand, she walked about two blocks to the highway and crossed over to the westbound side, she said.

"I'm soaking wet, I'm in denim, and all of a sudden I stick out my thumb," Hedgepeth said.

Not many cars were on the road, she said, but it didn't take long for her unlikely chariot to arrive. Rumbling up slowly, a power company truck with Michigan plates pulled over.

"They asked me where I was going, and I said, 'the emergency room,' " Hedegpath said.

For care? the workers asked. No, she said. For work.

A warm (and dry) welcome

When she walked through the emergency room door, still sopping, she was greeted by a co-worker who wrapped her arms around her and asked if she was OK. She was. Her supervisors spoke with her to ensure she was fit for work and cleared her for her shift, which would run over by four hours.

"I knew once I was there I could clean up and get to work. If my area was that bad, I knew over the bridge" - in Seaside Heights, N.J. - "it was 10 times worse. I knew they'd be coming there to the hospital."

They did. Community Medical Center has the busiest emergency room in the state and sees, on average, 260 patients a day, said Teri Kubiel, administrative director of patient care services. That average spiked to 300 in the days after Sandy.

Toms River, N.J.

Hedgepeth, now staying with a co-worker, was not the only employee aware that that would be the case.

Jean Flaherty, director of marketing, said 122 hospital employees' homes were either destroyed or uninhabitable, and 75 lost their vehicles, "yet they continued to work."

On the night of the storm, about 700 employees and patients stayed in the hospital; more than 250 were employees who caught rest on a cot or an unused gurney, Flaherty said.

With lives freshly torn by Sandy, Kubiel said the employees displayed "profound resilience."

Hedgepeth, who left the bar business several years ago to pursue a career with more stability and is enrolled in New York University's nursing program, said she had no other option.

"I like caring for others," she said. "Even in bartending, you're caring for others."

She grabbed a cup of coffee to warm up, "sat down for a second," she said, and went to work.