The Frankenstorm of the Century–Storm Prep Rhode Island Style

The hype has begun.

“Frankenstorm” has hit the tv news cycle. I’m not sure if Frankenstorm will be a whopper or if it was created to take advantage of weak news ratings. Either way, the name sure does sound bad. It’s a little late in the season for a hurricane, but after last year’s “Halloween Storm” which piled snow on much of the state, people want to be ready.  For Rhode Islanders, being ready is no joke. It’s a very specific science perfected by generations of people cutting each other off and failing to signal turns to the “mah-ket” to get the last loaf of bread.  And even though I’m cheaper than a bastid [sic: insert RI accent], and technically from Connecticut, I decided to take part in the pre-game festivities. I’ve prepared this helpful guide for storm prepping Rhode Island style:

Things you must buy as soon as the weather man says there might be a storm: 

The fact that there is still milk here is a very good sign.

Milk: I’m happy to say that the milk situation is quite good three days before the storm. There were shelves and shelves of it. I bought a gallon just for fun, even though I have a second fridge with a couple of gallons already inside–I’d hate to run out, then I couldn’t make greek yogurt or chowda [sic: accent returns]. And it’s on the list–so I must obey.

Bread: I’m mystified as to why all Rhode Islanders buy tons of bread for storms. Even the celiac were out today beating each other with loaves of French bread and grabbing it up like it was manna from the desert that would disappear.  I skipped the bread–I didn’t want to get too close. I bake my own.  People looked at me like I was making a very, very bad call opting out of the bread rush, so I might just whip up a second loaf before Jim Cantore or Mike Seidel arrive.

Water: I do not believe in plastic bottles. I find them wasteful. I have a Brita pitcher and an old college Nalgene bottle.  But since everyone else was buying water, I did, too. Storm prep is no time for personal assessments–it’s time to race old ladies to the last whatever-you-don’t-need and claim it victoriously.

I bought a couple of cases of water with the fancy tops that my husband can take to the dojo if we don’t need them, and for me, I got the cheap bottles that I can use for a function at school if necessary. We’re not used to fancy bottles at school, anyway.   I also got some paint buckets to fill with water because most people don’t realize that the toilets won’t flush if the water pump is out, but that there is a secret method using gravity and water. And if you think you’re afraid of a hurricane, indulge yourself in the fear of being a member of a one bathroom household with a toilet malfunction. That’s something that would make Chuck Norris cry.

Snacks: I don’t really eat processed food, and I hate cans of soup and all the other garbage that seemed to be flying off the shelf.  But I got some Easy Mac, which I also hate. If we don’t use it, it’ll last the next 50 storms and still be ready for a bomb shelter. Or I could stack it in a pyramid outside the office of my New Boss; he eats that garbage.  They don’t give bosses much time to eat, thanks to the requirements of ed reform, so he eats Easy Mac. What’s worse–he likes it.

Tonight, I’ll bake up some cookies, make some trail mix, whip up some paleo brownies, and we will be ready on the snack front.

Duct Tape:  I’m not sure why I buy duct tape.  Maybe I picked up someone’s crime list accidentally instead of the storm prep list. The way I figure, you can fix anything with duct tape, but I think I’m going to save it for minute six when the TV is gone and I have to quell the screams of panic from the men of the house.

These batteries are gone.

Unnecessary Flashlights and batteries: Okay, so I have six flashlights and all last season’s batteries.  But I’m really superstitious–I lived in Russia for a time and the old ladies beat it into me. They’d tell me things like “Don’t sit on the cement, you’ll be barren.”  If by “barren,” they meant “You’ll have a mutant child who will never listen to a thing you say unless it is a string of swears uttered three rooms away,” well, they were right.

So, I believe in all superstitions. And as such, before every storm, I buy unnecessary batteries to ward off the evil spirits.  I even saw a lonely Maglite on a shelf that had been picked clean. He couldn’t sit there alone. So I bought him, all the while thinking great thoughts about my old faithful 4D cell Maglite that used to double for such useful things like a bat in an impromptu game of baseball, a walking stick on a hike, or a tool for self-defense in a rough neighborhood.

For the last two storms, buying unnecessary flashlights and batteries has been my modus operandi, and a very effective one at that. I sort of felt bad, though, that the last time I redirected a storm by purchasing unnecessary items, it instead went to New York and crushed all the Mets and Jets fans, which is totally sad because they get crushed enough already. Sorry. I truly apologize.

According to Rhode Island standards, I’m well prepared for this storm, so right now, I’m just doing my work in order of electricity–doing the tasks that need it, so in the event Frankenstorm isn’t just a media exaggeration, I’ll be ready to curl up next to the wood stove with my five thousand flashlights and read a good book.


94 thoughts on “The Frankenstorm of the Century–Storm Prep Rhode Island Style

  1. Central PA does the exact same thing, but we also add toilet paper and bananas. I understand the toilet paper. Were I to be holed up in a house, without access to the outside world, I would prefer to leave my stack of carefully hoarded “Vogue” magazines in tact. Bananas on the other hand…I just don’t get that. They’ll be brown in 3 days, and the art of banana-bread-making is not what springs to mind when things like “Frankenstorm” and “worst storm ever!” are being thrown around.

    • Bananas? I’m dehydrating some now, so they will be snackified by the big time. I was down in your area July 4th–was in Harrisonburg, VA and then traveled through Central PA for a bit–wow. You guys are getting creamed this year, so I hope it all goes better for you. I almost don’t want to make Halloween costumes, but I guess I’d better get started.

      • Yes, we’re in the “if you live under this bubble, you’re screwed” part of the tracker map. Needless to say I’m going to hit the liquor store today. I’m also looking for the last pieces to my Halloween costume, which they’ve already announced the “snow make-up date” for. Looks like kids here get to trick-or-treat in November.

      • They can all be required to be pilgrims as misrepresented by history books being really nice to the Native Americans who fed them.

        Liquor store…great idea:) Sadly, I’m a disgrace to the Irish. I don’t really drink, but my husband will appreciate a Frankenbrew.

      • Sadness. But you can have them dress as the distorted version of the pilgrims as shown in American history books. Where everyone was smiling and they were not about to start making and breaking treaties.

        The liquor store–good idea. I don’t really drink but my husband will appreciate a Franenbrau.

  2. I can relate on many levels, having spent the first half of my life in Connecticut and the second half split between Louisiana and southwest Florida. I have prepped for my fair share of storms, and thankfully have used/needed very few of those supplies. Had we still been living in New Orleans at the time of Katrina instead of having moved three months before it hit, we would have needed more than mere store-bought supplies. I truly hope that Sandy fizzles and you will have a surplus of batteries, flashlights, and processed snacks. Extended power outages can be tricky…being stuck inside can also be challenging…but both are at least manageable with your level of preparation. Praying for the best!

    • Where in CT are you from? I was born in Bridgeport but grew up in Eastern CT–Colchester. It’s a nice town.

      You were super lucky to not be present for Katrina–funny how such small windows make a big impact in our lives. We should be okay for this storm with extra batteries, but I’m charging up laptops, gathering the wind up emergency radio, and tomorrow if I get my work done, I’ll finish baking.

      • I was born in Stamford but grew up in Danbury. I miss it, but am not sure I could happily make it through winters any more!

        Hope you get to do that baking!

  3. You are so Funny. Im originally from upstate NY so I understand the commotion. I have to admit sadly that even down here in NC, I still flocked to the Store to stock up on water & milk…I had a NY flashback moment.

    Well..everybody stay Safe & warm.

  4. As a fellow Rhode Islander, I adored every second of this post. I didn’t hoard either– just a few munchies and I’ll be baking some muffins while I still have power.

    I’ll admit I don’t get the milk thing in hurricanes. Blizzards, yes because you can just put the milk outside, but if your power goes out and it’s not snowing out, that is going to get rancid pretty quickly. Water and juice for us!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Thanks:) But the milk thing–I have a plan for that–I have an old fridge out in my garage. Probably uses up all the good karma I try to get w my other green pursuits. I stock up on things within dates, and if I miscalculate, I’ll turn the milk into yogurt or a farmer’s cheese. I just made some yesterday. So, if the power goes down, I have a two day cycle–day one is yogurt, day two, cheese. No waste… I think I’m going to make some choc chip cookies:) Are you near the coast?

      • That is an excellent plan! I’ve never made yogurt before, but I do love it! 🙂

        Nope, thank goodness. From what I’ve seen, South County is pretty much underwater.

    • Good point. I did not miss the beer. The liquor store, I’m happy to report, is open. I got my husband some Frankenbrau on the way home yesterday from tooling around watching other people rush. We went w the Sam Octoberfest. Because October is not yet done…

  5. My mom told me she’s fine as long as she has milk for coffee. She also just told me that she’s baking a dozen muffins and not to worry because a woman who is baking a dozen muffins is obviously not worrying about the weather.

    I’m in California. I’ll worry. (And aren’t you people on the east coast the ones who are supposed to worry about us?)

    • True, we do worry about California–last time I went there prices were SO high, and then there’s there’s the earthquakes, the former Governator and the economy, the possibility that the wine grapes will have a bad year. And what if you guys overtanned accidently:)

      I was running on Saturday, and my random playlist popped out “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” Curious. Then “California Dreaming.” Which I was… See, even the iPod expresses concern…

  6. I grew up in Ma, and now live in NC. I must saw that we have the some of same motto’s…..Gotta have the milk, bread, batteries, and flashlights. I usually skip the flashlights, I don’t think I could find one in this house if my life depended on it. I am a candle nut. So I figure those work just as well in the house. We usually skip the bread during the storm prep since the only way the kids eat it is toasted. They wont be doing that if the power goes out (which in the town I live in, if some one sneezes to hard we lose power) Same with the milk. I figure its far to expensive to spend hard earned money on something that will more than likely spoil in the fridge that no longer has any power going to it,. I do have a large tub in the master bath. I fill that with water, after all with 3 kids in the house the last thing I need is yuck in a toilet. But toilet paper? That is always on the must have storm prep here! We are barely being affected and finding toilet paper yesterday found me going to three separate stores! Good luck with the storm, praying you stay safe!

  7. Excellent post. I, too, am here… awaiting “Frankenstormaggedon” … in New Jersey (central/north…so, bad, b/c all of NJ is f’ed, but not too bad, b/c we’re not down “the shore” or by AC.) We also have bathroom, so I filled up the bathtub with water. If I’m stuck in the house without power I’d rather have a toilet than a shower. And my meat-loving husband has been totally nonchalant about this whole storm and it’s annoying me. “I lived in Florida for 3 years and went through 30 storms in one year and I’m not worried.” UGH help.

    • I overprepped, but we literally moved away from the coast a month and two days ago. We’d been trying for two years, and we needed the intersection of the Almighty and the market to escape. We got very lucky. We’d have been under the airport 1.5 miles from the coast. This house is off-the-grid ready. Love the 2′ walls, wood stove… but when the power goes out, I’m going to have two itchy people. I can deal with books.

      • We did fine–wood stove, French press coffee pot, a couple days of no power but got a generator, so we were able to charge up phones and stuff–I’m really aiming to get off the grid a bunch by next year. This sort of makes me more resolved to put that effort in.

  8. Duck tape, or masking tape is for the windows …. window fragments make for wicked shrapnel …. tape BEFORE the storm. take off with single sided razor blades if they get too stuck on. not as likely in the cold.

    Thought you might like to know ….


    • No, I do know that–we always used to do that w masking tape, but most windows now are double-paned… I usually just pull the shades to avoid the shatter… Are you an East Coaster? Hope you’re well!

      • No.

        But, I slept through the third or fourth largest storm in US history ….

        The tape is not just for shatter …. it is for slowing down all debris. and the WIND.

        Texas Tech has a wind damage center.

        Your real concern is wind coming through a damaged window and then taking the house down.

        That is why you keep a window on the non-wind side open slightly is to relieve pressure.

  9. “Duct Tape: I’m not sure why I buy duct tape.” — AMAZING.
    I’m in a similar boat with not eating processed foods or buying bottles of water…& add to that that I have a gluten allergy & haven’t poured a tall glass of milk since I was maybe 10 so my lil’ Rhody shopping list included: a ridiculous amount of canned chick peas, endless nuts, not enough boxed chicken stock, guiltily purchased water & a few back-up batteries to live with last storm’s back-up batteries to hopefully to remind me next storm that I do not need to buy further back-up batteries. I’m about to make some paleo banana bread & roast some crunchy chickpeas to storm-snack on…while I regret not impulse-purchasing an arsenal of duct tape. Thank you for you hilarity!

  10. As a native Rhode Islander (that’s had the chance to see the world), it’s amusing to the point of nausea sometimes how in this moment of preparation there’s buttloads of panic as well. I’ve been watching the locals since about Wednesday (10/24) freaking out like a flock of sheep when the local meteorologists used the word “no’easter” to describe this storm. So much so that even my immediate family stopped singing the tune of “hurricane destruction” (to the tune of REM’s song “the end of the world as we know it”) and singing the 70s tunes akin to the Blizzard of ’78.

    I think the worst part of this is how with each hurricane, tropical storm, blizzard and weather calamity that hits the area, people suddenly forget all the other far worst storms of the area. Or the ones that have completely wrecked through here in the last century. And let’s face it — we’ve had so much worse hit the area in the last century. I remember Hurricanes Gloria and Bob… I’ve seen the damage (in pictures) from the 40s and 50s when Hurricanes Carol and Edna caused so much flooding, we had the infrastructure changed with hurricane barriers.

    Good luck braving this… And congratulations on your Freshly Pressed.

    • What part do you hail from? We just left Wa’rk and headed into the forest. Glad to be here for this one. You’re right… I remember Gloria in Eastern CT. I also enjoyed the ice storm of 93 for a week w/o power in Rochester, NY. I got picked out of my house on Day 5 by a friend across town. That was not cool.

      I feel blessed–can’t complain a bit when I look at flooding, Katrina, or a couple of years ago in VT. Those guys were inspirational–taking in neighbors for months, making carpool brigades to get people over broken roads and bridges, and walking children miles through the woods to get to school. Inspiring. Can’t complain at all–can use satire, but in truth, we are blessed:)

      • I’m originally from what is now being called “The Trailer Park of Rhode Island” (Woonsocket), and currently living in Providence (most notably between Federal Hill & Olneyville).

        I had missed the Nor’easter that hit the area in 1993, but had something akin to it when I moved to the metro-Atlanta area that same year. I was lucky in that the Borough I chose to live in (Smyrna/Cobb County) was without power for a week, but there were parts of Northwestern Georgia that went without power for up to a month because of snow and ice. One of my roommates at the time (from New Jersey) and I helped the natives who had never seen snow in their lives, learn to deal with surviving through it while power was being restored: including donating stick matches for the stoves (all were electric start), and putting food out on the porch (temperatures never went above 36)…

        Like you, I count myself fortunate, not because the worst usually misses me, but instead being raised by my parents (and grandparents) who were always level-headed during any sort of natural calamity (be it threat or in actuality).


      • In ’93, I was in Rochester, New York. That storm caused an ice storm of epic proportions–it was spring break, and everyone was gone. I lived off campus. After about a week of huddling around the gas stove drinking tea, one great friend I hadn’t known was in town picked me out of my house. He had heat and hot food. That was no joke.

  11. Fantastic! As a Rhode Islander now living in Mass, this was a great read! I loved every word. FYI, the duct tape is to tape your windows, with you know, big “X” in the middle. Congrats on your Freshly Pressed status!

  12. Well, I’m not in (or from) Rhode Island, but in Virginia everyone goes crazy, even if the man on the news says we’ll get a dusting of snow everyone runs out like a stampede to the stores to stock up. This time around though, we ran out and bought all kinds of things, even though we’re not on the coast. But everyone’s been buying bread like no tomorrow here. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who wonders why, because bread will get moldy after awhile, and if I don’t have power what will I do?
    Anyway, stay safe while Sandy comes and stomps all over us.

  13. Personally, I’ve always wondered on the Milk thing. If the power goes out, your milk is spoiled. It’s not practical for any major storm that’s going to last more than a few hours.

  14. Wonderful post. I like your sense of humour.

    Have looked to see where we are in terms of the storm’s progress. I’m in Nova Scotia, near Halifax, and it’s a tad windy here already — and raining of course !

    Found you on “Freshly Pressed” Congrats !

    Be safe.

  15. Went to the grocery store to buy bottled water in Reston, VA yesterday and there was only a little bit left. I figured I’d save it for someone else so I bought Orangina instead.

    By the way, I’m originally from Connecticut too! My hometown is on the border of Rhode Island. I miss it there.

  16. If we even hear “sn..” here in E. TN, there is a rampage on the stores to buy milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper. I’ve never understood that–can’t make french toast if the power goes out!

  17. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed !!! Great post, very funny. I live just outside of Buffalo, New York so I like to think that I’m prepared for any snow or rain storm; at least I hope I am.

  18. Terrific writing and good insights–especially the duct tape technique for quelling the screams of males without t.v.’s. Just did a similar shopping expedition, complete with guilt over necessary water bottles. However, could not suffer re-entering the Wal-Mart check-out line for batteries, which I had forgotten, so lets hope I don’t lose power . . . .
    Congrats on fresh pressing.

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  20. Ha ha I did the same thing today here in Central New York, and I never prep for anything, the fear-mongers apparently got to me I bought flashlights, batteries, AND candles. And I even spent the afternoon chaining the cows in the barn so they wouldn’t blow away…

  21. You could always buy “long-life” milk???
    I’m not from the USA, nor have I ever experienced a hurricane, but I enjoyed reading your prep guide – I’m going to send it to my friends who are also preparing (with Halloween candy!) for the storm 🙂

    • Dubai? What an honor. Thanks for reading. I used Parmalat when I lived overseas, and I have powdered milk and plenty of preserved foods…I could exist for a good, long time. That “life long” milk was how I learned to make yogurt. I got one that I thought was bad, and my friends said, “NO, it turned to yogurt.” It was like a treasure. I trusted them, tried it, and they were right:)

  22. You rocked this! Here in my area, Western NY, panic has ensued. We are getting our fair share of wind and rain and pretty heavy I might add. But we have had much worse in terms of snow storms. In 91′ we had an Ice Storm that shut us down completely for two weeks!
    Sandy may be massive in size but the only thing she has disrupted in my personal life is the postponement of the Bruce Springsteen concert from Tuesday to Wednesday.
    The only thing I did do was fill my gas tank. My quart of milk is at the ready….

    • Ahh, I mistakenly missed the year commenting to someone else who referred to the ’93 storm down here. I was in Rochester for the ’91 storm. Yes, it was ’91. That was serious–I probably will not go through something so life threatening, storm-wise, even though I enjoyed the Great RI Flood of March/Apr 2010 by bailing for 48 hrs and being cut off from the rest of the state by a flooded river that bisected the state North-South. I was totally with you in the ’91 storm. But, wasn’t it one of the most beautiful things you have seen in your life, nature-wise? I remember waking up and the whole world looked like Narnia. I’ve never seen anything like it since.

      • Ah yes, seeing e v e r y t h i n g coated with Ice was surreal and I don’t think I will ever forget those images or the sound of the world crunching, creaking and breaking around me. How funny you were here for that! And now you’ve got Sandy under your belt. Also, there was a gigantic snow storm in ’93, it hit NYC and it just so happened I was there for that one! We got stuck in LI and the only way out was to hire a Limo to get us back to Manhattan. Since then, I refuse to go to NYC in the winter! Summer only, I don’t care how hot it is!
        Anyway, I hope you are all safe and warm.

  23. My favorite part of storms is the reporter who has to stand in knee deep flood waters with the winds pushing them over. Really? Is this what your mother expected when you said you wanted to be a journalist?

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    • That’s really kind of you–I had just read your post and looked at your outstanding handiwork. I’ve always tried to learn and never been able to do any of that. I love your blog:) I’ll be back:)

      • If you’re still interested in learning how to knit, you might try to find a person who can teach you to knit continental style. It might be easier for a lefty. Cheers!

  25. “And if you think you’re afraid of a hurricane, indulge yourself in the fear of being a member of a one bathroom household with a toilet malfunction. That’s something that would make Chuck Norris cry.”

    Best line of this post…hands down. I’d like to see Chuck Norris round house kick a malfunctioning toilet….sounds like a bad situation that would get REALLY bad.

    I live in Virginia now with city water(water even when the power’s out) but my Connecticut upbringing still wants me to fill the bath tub just in case 😉

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