Collect Water from the Roof? How? Where?

My neighbor, Robinson, has been collecting water only from the roof of his garage for the last two years. He has given me a very big challenge, and at the same time, the challenge brings a heartache. I know I should do what he has done. But what part of my garden has to make way for the rain collection system?

Do I really have to do this to 1) be safe in an emergency or 2) to rely less on fragile water services and more on myself? Do I really have to rip out that beautiful Japanese maple? Those Roses? The clematis climbing up that downspout?

I’ll show you the problem. Here is my backyard, in winter, behind the garage. Not much room left, eh?

That’s Icarus, by metal sculptor, John Richen, hanging on the garage. I think his unwarranted bravado about the sun is akin to my wish to ignore the future of water in our world.

And here, below, a photo of the most likely downspout for us to use collecting water from the house. Smack in the middle of social life. The grand kids love to play with that farm pump.

The third photo, below, is the collection tank behind the garage of my neighbor. As you can see, he has foregone a good bit of potential plant life to make water collection viable for the rest of his yard.

400 gal tank and 55 gal barrel IMG_3784(1)

And there lies the heartache for a plant lover who also wants to be more self-reliant when it comes to water. Where shall we put the tank, and what plants shall we do away with?

Robinson has two types of collection barrels. One passively collects 55 gallons of water as the rains come. The other is a 400 gallon tank that fills from the garage gutters.

The 400 gallon tank was a gift from a friend. Robinson had a concrete pad poured for the weight of the water he expected. And because the mechanicals on the tank are somewhat below the level of the bottom of the tank, he had to raise the tank on four piers of bricks and wood. (See photo of bottom of tank.)

Robinson had some fence post four by fours and some two by fours. He had caulking glue, so applied that to the bricks to help hold them still on the concrete pad while he worked the tank into place. Next he stacked the wood evenly on top of the bricks. When he was satisfied that all was going to sit level, Robinson placed the tank on top. I believe this was a group effort, maybe some after party happening, but I didn’t ask Robinson how he levitated his tank into place. And I should.

The fifty-five gallon tank sits next to the 400 gallon tank and collects some overflow but also fills naturally with rain.

Robinson has put filtering screen over both tanks (and another 55 gallon tank that he has in front of his house). He was warned by his neighborhood hardware dealer to steer clear of galvanized screening because it can add toxins to the water. Galvanization is a zinc coating on steel or iron screening.

As you can see from the photo above, Robinson used his original garage gutters, taking them apart and redirecting both of them toward the 400 gallon tank.

Double hose bib under tank IMG_3786

Double hose bib

Robinson uses his water to care for his vegetable garden and his collection of blueberry bushes. He has rigged it with a double hose bib, two openings at the bottom. One opening leads to a hose which acts as his back-flow release, or can be used to hand water pots. That hose hangs on a decorative shepherd’s crook about 5 feet above the bottom of the tank. The potential siphon is available whenever he lowers the hose. This makes emptying to clean easier.

The second hose opening leads to the small pipes that water his vegetable garden. Robinson cut a trench under the concrete walkways in order to take water to every part of his garden. Now, the only thing he needs in his garden is a little more sun.

He guesses that a year’s worth of Portland rain will fill his big tank 6 times over. And that’s from just the garage roof – approximately a 20’ by 10’ building.

Imagine what could be happening if we each collected water from our house roofs.

Robinson says, “I’d like to add an aqueduct from the house gutters to this tank, but I might not be able to build it up to the neighbors’ aesthetic expectations.”

True. The bar set by the Romans is high.

So, he’s hoping soon to buy another 400 gallon tank and shuffle water from the house gutters into it. The location of his second big tank is yet to be decided. Some plants will have to go. Or at least move.

Which brings us back to my problem, and I suspect it will be a problem for most garden lovers. What space can I use? What do I have to give up to do what I know I should do? There is a farm pump and barrel with water plants right next to the most important house downspout. And then there is the exuberant growth that happens by summer in back of our garage as in this photo to the right.

All is difficult to give up to barrels. But water is needed. More and more, we should collect it. Where would you put a collection system?

Send me your thoughts.

Next time, the costs and the cleaning and maintenance processes will be explored. And, if you send ideas and photos, we’ll see what you have done or plan to do to collect water.

I’m sure a tank soon will go somewhere in our yard. My poor beautiful roses…

Icarus, who hangs on our garage, is already crying.

How Will We Cook When the Lights Go Out?

Part of Rae’s Getting Prepared Series

Remember that for Christmas 2014 we gave our sons and daughter’s families water barrels to store drinking water. We bought water pumps for each household and a lead free hose for the families to share. Meanwhile, we celebrated other family events with gifts of food storage and cook books.

But when the earth rumbles or the east wind blows, we may not have power. How will you and I and our neighbors heat our food?

Even though the Richens have lots of trees on our tree farms, we live in Portland, not in our woods. Moreover, wood fires are inefficient. Our fireplace isn’t built for the hanging pot that my Arkansas relatives once used – true for most homes builtrae4 after 1900. Also, in-house fireplaces drag in cold air to keep themselves burning. You’re going to be trying to keep heat in your house.

We used to have a wood stove that might have been good for cooking, but it put a lot of particulates in the air. We want to find a cooking process that doesn’t turn Portland, the City of Roses into western China.

When the next natural emergency hits your part of the country, you’ll want a way to cook that is clean and efficient. That’s where my friend, Mary, (not her real name,) came to my rescue. She has discovered a simple process that is clean, has low toxicity and doesn’t use a lot of fuel.

You can save fuel, and safely cook your food by buying a one burner butane stove and creating a hot box.

Mary showed me her solution to cooking with as little butane as possible. In fact, we had a great lunch made with her one burner butane stove.

rae2“Five minutes to bring the water to a boil, Mary says. “Add the rice or chopped potatoes or whatever you’ve decided to use. The water comes back to a boil in a minute. Then boil the rice for five minutes only, take it off the burner, add reconstituted air dried vegetables and any other cut up food you’ve decided on. Put it in the Hot Box (more about this below) for a couple of hours. All is cooked and the insulation in your hot box is still warm.”

Off the stove into the Hot Box. Two hours later, her food was cooked and her sleeping bag was warm.

Into the Hot Box

Into the Hot Box

What could be more efficient use of a heating/cooking system?

Why butane and not propane? Chemists will remember that in the presence of plenty of oxygen, butane puts out carbon dioxide, Propane puts out carbon monoxide which we don’t want to be breathing.

“That’s why demonstrations in the grocery store are done on butane burners,” Mary says.

Of course, while butane puts out mostly carbon dioxide, anything used to create fire also creates some carbon monoxide. You cannot use these types of heating materials in a small room. So, no cooking in the closet, my friends. Give the butane plenty of air and store it carefully where there is air, too.

The stove Mary has was built by Stansport, but after much calling around, I was able to buy locally almost the same good stove for my families under two different brands. Big Five Sporting Goods had almost the same stove in two different brands, including the Gas One, which I bought.

So, for my Christmas list, I cleaned Big Five out of them. They’ve restocked. Friends have already bought more for Christmas. You can find them, too.

The other sporting goods and home stores I visited carried only propane stoves for outdoor camping. Those stoves are fine if you are where the carbon monoxide dissipates quickly, like out in the cold morning air, but in an emergency situation, you’ll want to cook where you can keep yourself as warm as possible.

What’s a Hot Box? Mary showed me. Hers is a cardboard box. “The corrugation is one part of the insulation,” she says. “I put my sleeping bag into the box and fold it around all sides of the hot cooking pan and then put the box lid on. The food just keeps on cooking for the next hours.”

Rae1

So, with the hot box, Mary saves on butane. She can get eight to ten hot dinners out of one bottle. All of these materials can be purchased locally, but you can get butane bottles for a lot less if you buy them online by the case.

You, my friends, already know that I want to credit my creative friend with her real name, but she would rather not be identified. Why?

While helping to host neighborhood preparedness meetings, two different neighbors told her that they didn’t need to take the time to get prepared for emergencies because they knew she had stored all that would be needed.

Wow! Really?

I asked “Mary” how she answered these boors.

“I couldn’t believe they meant it, but then I realized they were serious,” she said. “I just stood there with my mouth open.”

I suggested, “How about “I will share with people who can share with me, so get yourself ready, my friend.”

“Maybe next time, but, it’s unbelievable that anyone would think that way.”

Yep. It really is.

So, I’m off to figure out what to do for family birthdays and any other event I can use as an excuse to help my family and friends get ready.

Are You Ready for Small Emergencies?

I bet you have stories that support my belief that citizen leadership springs up in emergency situations. I’d be glad to read your comments or accounts of similar situations you’ve been in. My thesis here is based on a sample of two situations.

Situation One: On an afternoon last spring, Woody and I returned from our tree farm, driving on Oregon Highway 30, the highway that follows the Columbia River from Astoria on the Pacific Coast to Portland on the Willamette River.

A car in the oncoming lane stopped, signaling a left turn. The on-coming car behind plowed into her and sent her car spinning into our lane. Our truck certainly would have killed her. Woody took a hard right, praying that no one was coming down the entering road. Our truck slid across the entering road into a guard rail and avoided her. Fast thinking and a hard pull.

The next car on the entering road saw the danger. I watched him work hard to successfully stop before hitting me on our passenger side.

Meanwhile, the car behind the spinning car deployed all airbags, so you can guess how much power was in that initial hit.

The car of the woman who had hoped to turn left had no airbags. She was unconscious when Woody and another driver got to her side. Meanwhile, I called 911 and described the situation. Then, I stayed in the truck because too many people were already on the road.

The family in the third car in her lane was able to stop without hitting anyone. That driver and his wife immediately got out and began directing traffic. They knew how to command space and exude leadership. By the time the ambulance and police arrived they had a system going: two cars through going east, then two cars through going west.

All drivers on the highway and the entering road followed the directions of that couple. They had the skills, the presence of mind and the leadership qualities to maintain safety until the police and ambulance arrived.

We don’t know the long-range outcome for the left-turn driver, although she seemed to be conscious by the time the ambulance medics had her on a gurney. The second driver seemed dazed by his airbags and his disastrous financial future. All other drivers were safe because several people were alert, aware, skilled and willing to do what was necessary at the moment.

Afterward, I often asked myself if I could have played any of the necessary roles in that situation if others had not been there. Would I have been ready? Able? Or willing?

Situation two: After a recent wind storm, I had a chance to protect others in a lesser, but potentially dangerous situation. Driving toward our nearest arterial street, I discovered a wire looped in a large U across our residential street. I have a small car, but I knew that the sides of that U might easily catch on the side mirrors of a van.

I stopped and called 911. A man walking his dog, and other nearby residents tried with me to establish if the wire came from the telephone level or the electricity level of the nearby poles. Among the tree branches, no one could be certain of its source.how do you know?

The emergency dispatcher said, “Assume it is electric.”

So, I stayed. Cars tried to turn off the arterial, and when I gestured for them to stop, they paid attention. When I pointed up and traced the U of the wires, the passengers saw and gestured at their drivers to stay on the arterial.

Cars behind me lined up, saw my gestures and then took turns to back up and turn around. Only one SUV drove past them and me, over the wires and on its merry and precarious way. Its left side narrowly missed the opportunity to tangle mirror with wire and pull wire down the road with them.

All other drivers waved a thanks and went another way.

Ten minutes later, the fire truck came down the arterial, siren and lights in full play, so I knew to get close to the intersection in time to keep them on the arterial. I pointed up, gestured the U shape and pointed them straight to the right. The passenger fireman did as the drivers had done, glanced where I pointed and gestured his driver to stay on the arterial.

They blocked the intersection with their fire truck. Then, they set about checking whether wire was telephone or electric, and whether it was touching the electric wire at any point. They found it was a telephone wire that was loose from several telephone poles (and many thick trees) away.

As I backed out of their way and went on to my morning meeting, they were still checking whether it was touching any electric wires. At the end of my day, I drove past a telephone pole with a large yellow emergency ribbon wrapping cut wire. All sat ready for the phone company repair.

What has impressed me in both of these situations is that one SUV was the exception to the rule that most drivers follow citizen leadership. I’m glad I had a second chance to witness this truth. I was ready, able and willing.

But the more impressive fact is that others cooperated to help reduce risks in the presence of potential danger.

Have you seen this dynamic in action? Let’s hear your stories.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)

Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.

Note: move dishes away from food

Note: move dishes away from food

My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?

Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have.

A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow cover
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available new and used. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.

Eating Well After the Earthquake?

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)
Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave?
In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother.
I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.
My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?
Ideas from two family foodies
Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.
For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have. See photo.
A Book Discovery
In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.
Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.*
It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst.
Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans.
Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book.
Apocalypse Chow is available as new and used books. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday*, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.

*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture.
* Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage.
*Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.

Why Survive the Apocalypse?

20150106_172849

I’m looking at our world in a brand new way this year. Life is fragile, and we are part of that fragile fabric. Aware of the ephemeral, I decided to gift my family with the first step in a survival kit. Ever since, I’ve been watching the small habits and charming humor in the people around me. I’ve been smelling the morning, greeting the raccoon and the chickadees, really studying the texture, the light and the shadows in places that I often take for granted.

I’ve had some readers comment that they don’t want to be around after the apocalypse, (or after the Great Subduction Zone Earthquake).

I understand that feeling. Recovery is work, and fear, and discovered loss. Loss would make recovery seem like shoving one foot in front of the other, even though we also might,at the same time, discover people and things that have not been lost.

But I have a list of what I want to be around for – people, places and ideas I want to assist in recovery, if I’m still here.

Of course, family is the beginning of that list: Woody, my resilient and positive husband, our wonderful kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters, all the in-laws and out. And then friends, my great, close and wise friends. Kids I’ve taught and get a kick out of because of their humor, their imaginations and their energy.

I would hope to find all these people, though some may be missing. Together, we survivors could rebuild our world, create support, maybe even improve our community, over time.

And I would look for my neighbors, some of whom already are friends, and some who might become better friends if we have to rely on each other.

And I will want to see what flowers arise from the ashes during the next spring. Fireweed and pine trees open first after forest fires. What will grow through our broken concrete? I want to be as strong and persistent as those flowers.

Some folks who’ve insisted they don’t want to be around afterward also discuss the innate savagery of people following a disaster. Yes, we all have that capacity. Indeed we do. But we all also have the capability for mutual building. I want to be here to help encourage the building.

Is this blog a downer? I’m thinking here about the people I appreciate, believe in, and with whom I want to recover. You’ve got that list inside of you as well.

So, let’s plan and get ready for the next event, whether the event is bugs in our water or the earth moving under our feet. Here are some photos of things I’ll watch for and nurture afterward.

20150106_172849 20150425_104053 20150425_103646 scan0034 0517021550 IMG_5905 20131020_184744

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next issue of Rae: Always Asking will be about cooking after the big event. Tune in and see what I’m learning and what resources I’m finding.

Hold the Hose

Remember that fantastic water pump I told you about? The one that goes with our barrels of drinking water? Well, not so fantastic after all.

I didn’t see that the pump had a huge drawback. It has to be lubricated. Meaning, it does a great job if what you want to pump is oil or petrol. But water? Bloody hard on the thing.

So, you may remember that I tested my pump in the kitchen sink. The next time I got it out to try on the water barrel, it froze in mid crank. Urchhhhhh! Several unboltings later, we see the problem. Rust. No lubricant (which we wouldn’t have wanted in our water anyway) and thus, no motion.

So, back to the Parkrose Hardware. They took back and credited me for the four un-fried pumps. I kept the one I ruined in case anyone in the neighborhood ever needs to pump oil from our vast underground reserves

20150506_151350

The new non-toxic pump!

And I bought a new pump. This time, I explained myself a lot more clearly to the fellow in the hardware store. He took me right to this pump which is designed for water only. Its plastic parts are not toxic. It fits exactly in the hole at the top of our drinking water barrel and . . .

Tah-dahhhh! It has the added plus that it is the same blue as the barrel.

I just knew you’d all care a lot about color coordination!

pump handle installed

The new pump installed

If you are getting your family ready for emergencies, the Barrel Pump at Parkrose Hardware (or any True Value Hardware) is SKU#8898728 and costs 39.99 . If you are buying for your whole family, ask about discounts for multiple orders of the same item.

Get ready for emergencies and I’ll see you after the apocalypse – or just after the next bug-in-the-water emergency.

The Truth about Garden Hoses

We’ve been talking about getting prepared for emergencies. We started with the most obvious need – water. So, if you haven’t been with us, look back through December 2014 and January 2015 to see how the Richens picked out a barrel safe for drinking water and a hand pump for each of the families on our Christmas list.

IMG_1867Here we are in February and have you filled your barrel? No? I hope at least that you have decided to buy one and are setting it up. As we set up ours, we found a flat place out of the sun and not destined to be under a lot of debris after an earthquake, or under water when the creek rises. In our yard, that place was the north side of the house, near the water spigot and also near the side porch.

And now, my well-prepared friends, it’s time for us to fill our drinking water barrel and test the system. Just turn on the spigot and there you go, right?

Not so right. While searching for our barrels and the water pumps, I discovered the Cancerous Garden Hose Controversy. It turns out that garden hoses are made with some chemicals you don’t want your family drinking. Lead is the most obvious problem. It comes out of garden hoses in rates up to 18 times higher than the federal drinking standard. Moreover, there are other chemicals in your garden hoses that cause cancer, including some we recently worked to take out of children’s toys.*¹

IMG_1869What? You say. “My garden hose has dangerous chemicals?”

This is not evidence of a conspiracy. Garden hose manufacturers are expecting you to drink water inside your house and water the lawn outside. The safety police haven’t told them that people may be filling barrels with water to drink in case of an emergency. And no one in authority has come to the conclusion that lead in garden water might not be great for your soil.

Soil studies exist, showing a possible negative effect, but you know what’s been happening with climate change studies, right? Study, re-study, write definitive papers and then engage in debate with each other where money is mightier than reason*². Thus, we can guess that lead in your garden soil is at least two years from debate, so we hose users might as well change what we can change, eh?

And that means we find a type of hose NOT made with lead. It turns out that there are manufacturers of drinking-water-safe hoses. More costly, but safe. rubber or polyurethane hoses are the go-to material.

A little online research gives us opportunities to buy these types of hoses and have them shipped to us. Brand names advertised as drinking water safe can be found at the following stores and websites: Amazon, Sears, Home Depot, elementhose.com and many other places. Go look out there because this is not an exhaustive list.

So, yeah! for the makers of safe-to-drink hoses!

I hoped to find such hoses in Portland, Oregon, where I live, so I called several hardware stores. I got some clerks for whom “Huh?” is the go-to answer, but still, I almost always got passed to the person who knows. Both of my local hardware stores, Beaumont Hardware on N.E. 43nd and Fremont Street*³ and Park Rose Hardware on N.E 120th and Sandy Boulevard both carried rubber and polyurethane hoses. Beaumont Hardware carries the Element brand in 25 foot ($13) and 50 foot lengths ($27). A good price.

Park Rose Hardware carries the Contractor’s Choice brand of polyurethane hose. There were rubber hoses at Park Rose Hardware as well, but the ones they carried were designed to use with hot water, and store indoors. So, rubber of this type is not exactly what we’re looking for.

IMG_1868Contractor’s Choice, a Eugene, Oregon company makes a polyurethane hose called Gatorhyde (Tough as its Name) The 25 foot length cost almost $30 and has a limited lifetime warranty. The 50 foot Gatorhyde costs $ 40.

At my hardware store, the lady who knows hoses told me this was the hose she would buy because it is light, yet tough and easy-handling. The hose remains flexible above 165 degrees and below zero.

Moreover,*4 the hose ends are not brass, but nickel plate. That means gone is another source of lead. (Brass is copper plus zinc with lead. The lead leaches out into your water.)

So, I bought the Gatorhyde version and brought it home, happy as a well-fed gator.

Those of you who have been following this blog on disaster readiness, may wonder if I paid for five hoses for my five families. Nope. Too close to the Christmas purchase of five barrels and five steel hand pumps. I bought one. This hose will make the rounds of the five houses in short order, filling five barrels and then it will be stored in our garage until time to empty and refill the barrels with fresh water.

How often will you refill, you ask?

Well, guess what. Mold free water is the subject of another blog. Coming soon at raerichen.com

Rae: Always Asking

OH! My stars?

*1 Other not so drinkable chemicals in hoses include cadmium and the phthalate DEHP at 4 times higher than federal drinking water standards (see ecocenter.org for the study by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor Michigan, and healthy-stuff.org for further discussion.)

*2 “Money is mightier than reason?” You ask. And I respond, “When did you stop paying attention to reality?”

*3 Yes, Portland, Oregon has a Fremont Street named after this explorer and politician who had nothing to do with Oregon. Naming choice of the developer? Not sure. There is a process for changing street names in Portland, thank goodness.

*4 Moreover? Bet you haven’t seen that word since you took your one and only class in British- Literature. Evidently, the word Moreover was alive and well in Arkansas in the 20th century, because it was a favorite of my mother. As in “Moreover, Sharon Rae, if your room isn’t clean by six o’clock . . . “   You get the meaning.

The Great Disaster Kit collection – Buying a Pump for your Water Barrel

Buying a Pump for your Water Barrel.

Onward in our quest to outfit the family in case of water problems in Portland (like the e-coli scare of last year) or in case the Pacific Subduction Zone decides to make a move on us.

As you may have read in our previous installment, Family Ready for the Big One?, we bought our water barrel from Alberto at Myers Containers.

Next, we needed a pump to siphon the water out of the barrel when disaster arose. Woody and I have a mechanical pump of the old farm-home type. We’ve set it up in a barrel pond at our home. The grandkids and I enjoy playing with it on a sunny day, but its pipe is bigger than the opening in the plastic water barrel. Besides, for our family Christmas, we needed five pumps for our five families. Farm pump in rain barrel 2IMG_1851

Myers Containers doesn’t sell pumps, but when it came time to buy one, Alberto brought in his colleague, George, who had studied the pump situation. I asked him about the pumps I had seen online. They were plastic versions of the old pump handle seen in the farms of our grandmothers.

George told us he had once ordered a pump of the type I described from the mid-western company that I had found online.

“What you don’t want is to rely on something with plastic parts in an emergency. I had that type and within two weeks it broke.”

So, what do we want?

“Pick up a metal pump that works on the wheel mechanism instead of the siphon being created by the rise of the handle. I think you can get one at a really good hardware store, and it will save you the cost of shipping.”

We went to True Value’s Parkrose Hardware at N.E. 106th and Sandy Boulevard. And there we found exactly what George described to us. water pump closeup,IMG_1856The price was the same as the online order for plastic, about $65. We were going to save time and big shipping costs. Plus, because we ordered five, Parkrose Hardware gave us a discount. We got the Ironton Rotary Hand Pump, item # 37903. It is made with a cast iron casing and three sections, totaling 38 inches of telescoping suction pipe. The impeller (the rotary thing) is made of carbonized resin. I expect to have this pump in action for a long time.

It turns out that the wheel mechanism gives you a continuous flow of about a quart every three cranks. The flow can be controlled by speeding up or slowing down. That’s an improvement over the farm pump that delivers a whooshing splash after a good deal of priming each time you use it.

Thus, I won’t be breaking my arm to get at the water I’m storing in our Big Blue barrel. Here is a photo of Iron Ton, being tested in the water pump demo,IMG_1861kitchen sink. (Did you think I’d test it in the driveway at today’s 36 degrees?)

And here is our Big Blue in his new home on the north side of the house. We decided against storing in the garage because we have not yet cleaned a nice place for him there. Maybe next summer when we empty and refill him, he’ll have indoor shelter.20141214_124326

Next? Guess what? It matters what hose you use to put water in the barrel. Who knew there’d be so much to learn in this quest for an emergency kit?

Tooon In.

Family Ready for the Big One?

(And the small ones too)

Our Pacific Northwest’s big earthquake hasn’t happened yet, but it could happen any time. Geologists have been expecting the big one and have been trying to warn us for quite long enough. We should all be aware of the Subduction Zone facts.

Enough of passive information gathering. Want to get ready?
Join me as I help my extended family, and you all, get ready for that predicted event, or any smaller events between now and the #9 earth moving that is predicted. I’ve begun planning and collecting. And, due to the recent Ecoli shut-down of our water supply, I’m sure my kit will have uses between now and the big bowling event. Unlike Rip Van Winkle, I plan not to be caught napping.
I know you also will have great ideas about what to get, where to get it and how to store it. So, please share your ideas about getting ready as we go down this road toward readiness and safety.
Our family is extended, but most of us live in the greater Portland area. We need to plan together, but also plan separately. We don’t live close enough to assume we can get to each other in a crisis.
Thus, we realized that each family unit would need its own equipment. And we can add to these collections as we can afford to do so. The first questions is what do we each need? And to begin, what do we need the most?
We humans are 60% water, so Water tops that Needs Most list. The recommended water storage is 3 gallons a day per person for at least five days. I hunted over the area for water storage and found that most in the know recommend plastic 55 gallon drums. First problem, who sells these? 20141214_124326
Online, I found many container stores. I called a hootin’ lot of them, and discovered that

1) Some were out of business

2) Some didn’t deal with small fry like me and

3) Some couldn’t answer my questions about what I needed.
But one store understood what I was trying to do, and took the time to answer. That one place was Myers Containers at 8435 Northeast Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR, 1-800 406-9377. When I called, I was transferred right away to Alberto. He told me they had just what I was looking for. I drove out there and looked at the product. I ordered five.
They are sturdy, have strong plug-ins on top and are a good price at $65. This amounts to all of Christmas for each family, but what do you do when you love folks? You help them get ready. Right? I hope you and yours are following in my footsteps. I’ll make big tracks, just for you, my friends.

20141214_124300
We took the tree-farm truck to Myers, met Alberto and Jesus, who helped us plunk four containers into the truck, a perfect fit. We’ll go back after the fifth one next week.
Next blog entry, I’ll show you how we’re going to get all that water out of the 55 gallon drums when we need it. Mechanical pumps, here we come!

Post Script:
In my previous discussion, (June 2, 2013) I mentioned resources we all can use:
Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Readiness. Response. Recovery.
Phone: 503-823-4375, Fax: 503-823-3903, TDD: 503-823-3947
These sites have lists that have been thoughtfully worked out by people who practice emergency response.
Another resource is available – your neighborhood preparedness volunteers. My friend, Ruth Jones has joined the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) program. It is her volunteer job to attend preparedness sessions and to make information she gets available to her neighbors. I got into this project because of Ruth’s presentation at a neighborhood brown bag lunch. She remains a source for us. You can call 503-823-4375 or go online at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/pbem/31667 to find out how your neighbors can be ready for any type of emergency.