Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Planning for an Emergency

by Naomi Jackson, Becketwood Member

Don't tell anyone, but I have enough toilet paper for a month. No, I didn’t clear off a shelf in the grocery store. In January I decided to try a new, more environmentally friendly brand of toilet paper made of bamboo, and you have to order it by the case. So before this emergency started I already had half a case plus a few random rolls of Seventh Generation.

However, I came home from my last couple shopping trips with 25 pounds of rice, 3 pounds of butter, 6 loaves of bread, 4 dozen eggs, 2 pints of honey, 3 quarts of yogurt, and extra dried beans, boxes of tea, blocks of cheese, dried fruit, nuts and carrots to add to my already-solid accumulation of food.

Does that make me a hoarder? I don't know. I like to think that planning for an emergency is a good thing, even if the emergency seems remote at the time. Planning gives me something to do when I start worrying. So I always have a month’s supply of food on hand, although towards the end of the month I’d have to call Lynne Rossetto Kasper and say, “I have pickles, dried garbanzos, a can of tuna, a quart of chicken broth and some frozen rhubarb. What can I make with that?”

It’s not just food I worry about. Our car is stocked with warm clothes, a sleeping bag, maps, snacks and games, first aid kit, a gallon of water and, yes, toilet paper.

By the front door we have a grab-and-go bag with toothbrushes, copies of important papers, first-aid supplies, a couple rolls of quarters, rope, weather radio, survival blanket, nonperishable food, a couple face masks, jackknife, duct tape, maps and, yes, toilet paper.

Including the jugs in the freezer that I use to fill up empty space, we have 14 gallons of potable water on hand. We have solar-powered radio, phone and battery charger, and lamp. We keep the car full of gas. Usually. Our camping gear will keep us reasonably warm and dry if we have to shelter outdoors. I have books on foraging for wild edibles and board games for amusement.

I also have a plan for managing our food supply if the electricity goes out, since much of our extra food is in the freezer. It involves Joel Mortensen, the Kensington grills, all the camp stoves we can round up, and hungry Becketwood residents.

All this planning keeps me out of trouble, but there are things you can’t plan for, such as tornadoes and earthquakes, and there are things such as the current pandemic where you have to rely on other people to do most of the planning, and that might or might not go well.

Then we fall back on the most important thing: looking out for each other and lifting each other’s spirits which, in this age of electronics, we can do even when we’re sequestered in our rooms.

In this past week, via email, text, phone and Zoom, I’ve talked with more friends more often than I normally do in a month. Anita’s schedule is full of meetings, dance groups and clients, all online. People are exchanging jokes, poems and links to online travel. Our granddaughters are enjoying sing-alongs and crafts sponsored by the YMCA’s Camp Miller.

All this connecting is happening organically. It isn’t something any of us could have planned ahead for. It just happened. Which just goes to show that a month’s supply of food and toilet paper does us no good if we don’t have each other.

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  • Anonymous April 1, 2020, 6:42 pm

    Right on, Anita. How many suitcases do you take when you travel by air? Most people err on the :”What ifs” when they travel. I had been wondering if I need my winter car survival kit anymore since I only drive in the city. Read on in a day or two when Kari posts it. My thing is having enough water on hand! #317