How To Feed Yourself (And Others) When The Power Goes Out

Time to use up those frozen Bubba Burgers.
Time to use up those frozen Bubba Burgers. Photo by Predi/flickr
After Hurricane Ike rolled through Texas in 2008, Spring Branch resident Eric Moen found himself without power, along with all his neighbors on Kimberley Street.  Together, they rigged up charcoal and propane grills in his driveway and pooled the remnants of their refrigerators together, eating everything from chicken dinners to hamburgers and even fajitas for two weeks straight.

"It was great. We called it the Kimberley Cafe," Moen tells the Houston Press. "My kids still look back at it as one of their favorite memories from childhood."

At the time, Moen was working for St. Martin's Episcopal Church, and was able to procure several large ice chests from his church, and fill them up with ice to keep everything cool.   Neighbors he'd never met before introduced themselves and brought over food. He made new friends. It brought his community together, he says.

When his neighbors across the street got their power back on, Moen kept grilling for another full week, until his own power was restored.  By then, grocery stores had even reopened and "people kept driving by and donating things. One woman gave us all this water. She was like, here, I don't need this anymore."

Moen, who was was interviewed by the New York Times during the Kimberley Cafe, described the outpouring of support from community as "the very definition of grace.”

Moen's own advice for those facing power outages after a storm and a fridge or freezer full of food boil down to a few simple things:  Get an ice chest and fill it with ice. Make sure you have propane and gas for your grill, and invite the neighbors over.

"Relax and entertain," Moen says. "That's all you have to do."

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.