Something New At Walmart This Weekend? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Baltimore has seemed to be in denial, in the press, and as evidenced by the abundance of Y2K supplies on the shelves of the stores. It was making my funk even worse, imagining that few people here were going to have any fall back position, in the dead of winter, if Y2k leads to "localized" problems for D.C./Baltimore.

But a small encounter got me all goose-bumpy today, wondering if maybe something has changed out there. I was in my local Wal-Mart and found 2 older ladies, pushing 2 loaded carts around the camping gear section. They had a list they were consulting and kept repeating, "He said to get ...". When I tried to help them find the bags for a porta-potty, I realized that there weren't any left. Then I noticed that there were only a few porta-potties, water containers, campstoves, etc., on the shelves. This was NOT the case a couple of weeks ago. When the ladies turned their focus to lantern mantles, I left them to their privacy.

I was dying to ask them who "HE" was, and if they were buying these things for Y2K (if they had said yes, I swear I would have hugged them!). I think the reason I didn't ask, was because I needed to preserve my hope that maybe a son, fellow senior, or guest speaker at their senior center had gotten them Y2K prepping. (also didn't want to imply that they didn't look like ladies who still go camping or hunting, even tho that was exactly my impression). It amazes me how much of a boost I got today, just seeing less merchandise on the shelves, and those 2 ladies working their way down that list! I guess it's indicative of how badly I've taken the apparent lack of prepping in this neck of the woods. Anyone else notice any thing different in the stores this weekend?

ALSO today, I found a way to increase my water storage and harvesting ability. I am posting it here because it is a also "DWGI spouse work around" (it has nonY2k usefulness and is relatively inexpensive) that others might be looking for. WalMart had a 50 gallon rubbermaid tub with a lid for $15.00. I can use it to hold camping gear, in the attic, until I am ready to wash it out, move it to the basement and fill it with drinking water prior to the rollover. (I can move it around by myself, empty, no problem.)

If there are rollover problems, that is the first water I will use, then I'll move to my 5 gal. containers, then to my bottled water. If we are drinking water from a tub for a week, my husband will become a GI, I am pretty sure, and will be glad to help me harvest whatever precipitation we might get to refill it, and any other containers we empty.

This is my harvesting plan, and I wonder if anyone sees any problems or improvements they could suggest. I have several brand new tarps I bought to warm the soil of my garden beds for an earlier spring planting. I also have several tall, metal garden stakes (trellis supports for summer crops). I envision using these together to collect rainwater to use for drinking/cooking. (Then I can save roof runoff for washing, flushing, or last resort). By attaching 2 corners of 2 tarps to tall garden stakes and anchoring their other ends in this tub, I picture being able to direct a fair amount of rainfall into the tub. (Maybe I'll get another tub, so I can collect from 4 large tarps during every rainfall.) One of the things I like about this plan is that I can refill my other containers right out of the tub, without pumping, even while the tarps are collecting rain. Also, I can store any "leftovers" right in the tub since I it has a lid I can secure with bungey cords. The tarps might catch leaves and debris that I will need to strain out, but at least I won't have to deal with the unknowns of chemical contamination/bird feces, etc. from roof shingles.

So what do you think? I'd rather do a solar powered well pump, and I'm praying hard that rolling brownouts turn out to be the worst case. But, given my constraints, does this "water panel" system seem like a workable plan for refilling my drinking water containers, in case the power is down for more than a couple of weeks?

-- Kristi (mom@feeling, August 29, 1999



I think you will need lots and lots and lots and lots of rain with no flying birds to accomplish this for drinking water. And even then ?? Have you calculated how much rain you would need on a weekly basis to fill your container(s).

I would be more comfortable with investing in water storage containers and having water in the house or garage, clean and ready. What happens if it doesn't rain for a month? What happens if strong winds come blasting into your yard. Nearly all of my tarps have met their Waterloo when hit with strong winds.

I think you may have been better off to follow those two ladies home, get their address, and use them as a fallback plan. They probably have the goodies you will need and want, but the other consideration would be, could they keep their mitts off your husband? Oh well, back to the tarps.

-- enough is (, August 29, 1999.


Regarding your water collection techniques:

Many of us live in a climate where it can easily rain an inch of water in a single storm. So, I thought I might use this amount to analyze your idea for water collection and to validate some of my own preparation. I hope my math and definitions are correct:

A 20 by 20 foot tarp will collect 250 gallons of water in a one inch rain. That is (many needless conversion later) (1) 20 feet is 240 inches, so th tarp is actually 240x240 inches, or 57,600 square inches. (2) If an inch of rain stands on the tarp, then the tarp would collect 57,600 cubic inches of rain. (3) A gallon contains 231 cubic inches, so the tarp would collect 57,600 / 231 = 250 gallons of water in a good rain!

You can buy a kiddy pool at Walmart for under $50. A good 10 foot pool which will hold 15 inches of water and 800 gallons of water. That is, (1) 10' diameter = 5' radius or a 60" radius. (2) Since area for a circle is radius x radius x 3.14, the pool covers 60 x 60 x 3.14 square inches or 11,304 square inches. (3) By filling the pool to a depth of 15 inches, there will ber 15 x 11304 cubic inches or about 170,000 cubic inches of water in the pool. (4) Again, since a gallon of water contains 231 cubic inches, the pool will hold 11304 / 231 gallons or about 800 gallons of water! That is a lot of water. It is remarkable that such a conatiner can be filled with just 4 good rains using a 20x20 foot tarp.

Finally, I might add a bunch of random thoughts:

Please remember that 800 gallons of water weighs over 6000 pounds. A wooden floor will not support this weight. The pool must be placed on a concrete slab or on the ground in an area carefully cleaned of sharp objects and bumps.

Many large containers you might buy are not suitable for safe storage of water or food. The chemicals within the plastic will eventually leak into the water and food. I presume, but do not know, that water stored in a pool would be safe from such chemicals. After all, the kids who swim in these pools wind up drinking a large amount of the water as they swim!

Getting the water from the tarp to the pool could pose a problem unless the pool is situated near to the tarp. If you use a hose to transport the water, you should use a hose specially rated to cary drinking water. If you can, avoid the white RV hoses because they are the most expensive. You should be able to find a moderately priced garden hose of some lenth that is rated for drinking water if you look hard enough. In my area, Ace Hardware and sometimes K-Mart have such hoses.

I expect you will hear from the fringe crowd who believe that all water is contaminated, even rain water (ever hear of acid rain?). Pay them no mind. They are of course partially correct, but largely deluded (diluted?!). The contaminates in rain water are few and easily tolerated. Just be sure you keep the water collection system and storage facility as clean as possible. Then either boil the water, sterilze it with bleach, or use a good water filter before drinking the water.

I hope people with a better understanding of math will correct any errors I have made. I am really too old to be doing this stuff in my head.


-- Uhmm.. (, August 29, 1999.


Do you have a building like a garage or garden shed where you could put the tarps on the roof? This might help with the potential wind problems.

We are lucky in that we have a built in cistern system for our roof drainage (yes the roof has asphalt shingles) and we know the previous owners used the cistern water for the 50 yrs they lived here (and they are now in their mid 80's in good health). The barn and shop both have tin roofs that we are going to add rainspouts to and water barrels for the cattle.

If you don't already have one, I would get a water filtering system and keep plenty of bleach on hand. That way you could use the roof water in a pinch. (I would also treat the water from the tarps just to be safe.)

-- Beckie (, August 29, 1999.

Becky, could you describe more the cistern system? I have an above ground pool I have been thinking about using. Can't wait for the comments from neighbors as I try to set it up in the middle of winter in the Sierras. If I were to use the tarp and hose idea to fill the pool I would have to worry about freezing temps I suppose. I would love to have a cistern. Seems that would be better in an area where it gets below freezing. Any more info would be greatly appreciated.

-- Linda (, August 29, 1999.


I'm glad to see that you're using your noggin, in working around your DGI spouse. I don't know if you had a chance to see it, but I posted some tips that I hoped would be helpful, on how to possibly get thru to him, on Mabes' thread "True Story". I'm not sure if you saw it, because I wasn't thinking and posted it, right before the thread got bumped into the archive. Ooops. If you didn't see it, let me know, and I'll repost.

I think your idead is a clever one and, of course, it's success depends upon amount of rainfall as would any collection method. The one problem you might have is in the method of support. Two stakes and an anchor would probably only hold up, in a light rain. The weight of the water would probably collapse it, or rip the plastic, in a heavy downpour. Look for other things around the house and garden to put at the midpoint to add extra support. A wheelbarrow comes to mind.

If I were using this system, I'd probably build a wood frame to support the tarp, but I understand that your trying to employ a little stealth wiht your preps. Maybe you could come up with a cover story for having some lumber on hand and the frames could be built as the need arises? If hubby stays DGI, right up till TSHTF, then he'll probably need a few projects to keep him busy to keep his sanity, anyway.

-- Bokonon (, August 29, 1999.

Even if it doesn't rain, you can also mop up a decent amount of dew from grassy areas, if you get up early in the morning. Use big sponges, and make sure the grass hasn't been chemically treated.

-- Mark (, August 29, 1999.

Thank you one and all for all the good comments and ideas, and the generous tone of encouragement. I really appreciate the math calculations; I never would have guessed how many gallons a good soaking could deliver if one is set up to take advantage of it.

And Bokonon, I sent you and Mabel Dodge a message thanking you for sharing your story about becoming 2 DGI's; I love your postings, and thought I was reading one of yours here before I got to your name on my screen ... in fact, I thought of you this morning when my DWGI husband did a very DGI thing ... he said we are going to pick up a generator this coming week, and get an electrician out to the house, so we will have some back up for our well (which addresses both our water and septic needs). Of course, he said this is not just for Y2K but for any time we might lose power ... but he wasn't hostile about it, just explaining his thinking. I don't even need to know (tho I'm curious and may ask him someday when we're having a nice "tete a tete") what led him to this decision; I'm just thrilled, ecstatic, joyfully relieved, jump-up-and-down happy that he got there. I think it's a small, first step in the right direction. Who knows, maybe someday soon he will just start talking about Y2K as if he was always a GI -- it wouldn't surprise me. Maybe he decided it was the only way to keep the basement from being overrun with an army of water-filled, soda bottles! Maybe his sensible side finally got the better of his "I don't want to think about it" side. Maybe he realized I was doing it with or without him, and decided that he could only have input by getting involved. Doesn't matter, really WHY. I just feel as if a miracle touched our family this weekend, and I'm energized with hope that this is the start of our pulling together, to get our family to the other side of whatever Y2K turns out to be.

P.S. I still plan to keep the harvesting idea as a backup for my neighbors with pools (9 of them), in case obtaining fuel for the generator becomes problematic. I'd rather have a solar well pump installed (I think the cost might be about twice that of a generator), and but not sure if there's time to get it shipped and installed, even if hubby saw its long-term advantages.

-- Kristi (mom@feeling, August 29, 1999.


The longest journey starts with but a single step(I forget who to attribute the satement to, I'm bad with names). The first thing I did was build a solar box heater (the first of three) for our south facing windows. My statement at the time was something like, "Oh this isn't really a Y2K thing. It's to cut down the utility bills", but I was already thinking about it. Glad to hear things are progressing. I'll have to go look for the message you sent. The addy I use is a real one, but it's not the main one, so I only check it about once a week.

-- Bokonon (, August 29, 1999.

I'm not so sure about the use of rubermaid tubs for drinking water- they are not designed for "food use"- are not made of food grade plastics- be careful with this- would use that only for flushing, washing, etc-

-- farmer (, August 29, 1999.

Better than running a mop through the dew could be spreading plastic tarps or any large plastic out on the ground overnight, then carefully lifting it in the morning and pouring the collected dew into containers. (In warm, moist places that get cool at night. Not in Wisconsin in January, of course.) But I wonder if the plastic needs to be food grade if the water is going to be drunk.

-- Shivani Arjuna (, August 29, 1999.

Good point about the containers, farmer. My understanding of the problem with non-food grade plastic containers is the possibility of VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) leaching into food and water stored in them. If your in a situation where you have to use them for drinking water, it might be a good idea to get a water filter. I haven't been able to find an authoritative source on just how good the commonly available ones are, at removing VOCs, but if your in a position of having to do "stealth" preps, due to a DGI spouse, as Kristi is, it might be all you can get away with buying. And I'm sure a Britta or a Pur beats a blank. I use a Britta to clean up the taste of tap water, and it sure must remove something, since the taste is dramatically different.

-- Bokonon (, August 29, 1999.

Kristi: Large food grade containers are the way to go. HOWEVER, if you do find some that were used you might ask what was last stored in them. I dearly love jalapeno peppers in about anything I eat. HOWEVER, IT DOESN'T MAKE WATER TASTE PARTICULARY GOOD. We've tried several things to get rid of the smell and it is going away a little. We haven't tried our Berke yet but that's next. That's not nearly as funny though as my wife and I noticing that our Suburban has a tendency to turn into every SAM's and Wal-Mart we pass! We've learned to giggle a lot lately at ourselves(senior citizens are allowed a sense of humor after all).

-- Neil G.Lewis (, August 29, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California

I've just started a thread about the second part of your question over at the preparation forum, where I believe it is more appropriately addressed. I called it Rain Water Catchment and categorized it under Water & Water Storage.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage.neener.autospammers--regrets.greenspun), August 30, 1999.

Kristi, Glad to see that there are others in Md. looking at this problem. My wife is still a DNGI to a certain extent. We have gotten a large 8X5 inflatable pool.

-- Greg (, August 30, 1999.

i love you

-- karthikeyan (, August 16, 2003.

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