Held off posting this until we knew that our various friends in the cities affected by Sandy were safe.
If you are rural or semi rural, being prepared is not only easy, but a way of life. You know full well the power will go out at some stage during the year and you are ready for it. Generators, a back up heat source, food stocks, and water stores are all a way of life.
Apartment living in the city is different. You have minimal room and are completely at the mercy of the utility companies as far as power, heat and transport are concerned. Would it surprise you to know that you can survive comfortably for two weeks with a bunch of cheap stuff that can fit into a medium sized suitcase? Something easily tucked under the bed, or in the dead space on the top of a wardrobe. A little bit extra in your kitchen cupboards, and you can laugh at a two week power outage.
Water first. The generally accepted rule of thumb is a gallon a day per person. Wrong. You can skip washing for a week or so. Sure, you won't smell particularly good, but you'll survive. The army considers a quart of water a day to be more than sufficient for health needs unless you are marching in a desert. Since most city based catastrophes don't appear without some warning, pick up a couple of collapsible water tanks. They take up about the same amount of space as a folded sweater when not in use. When you need them, fill them up and put them in the bath tub, a space you are not going to be using for the duration of the emergency. A typical bathtub can comfortably hold 2 weeks water for a family of four. If you absolutely must stay clean and fresh, a couple of boxes of baby wipes take up minimal room and are amazingly effective at cleaning up the worst of the stench.
Heating next. Contrary to popular belief, being chilly doesn't kill you. Sweating does, if it is really cold out, but you are in shelter and out of the wind. The procedure here is layers. Three or four thin layers are far more effective than a single bulky sweater, since each layer traps air and helps keep the heat in. For all you guys out there, check your man card at the door and put on a pair of pantyhose under your jeans. Hockey players wear them so you can too, and, again, they take up minimal storage space when not in use.
Cooling, for our friends in Arizona. Aircon has only really been a thing for the past 50 years. Before that, you suffered the heat and were quietly grateful that you were not freezing your backside off. You already have the cure for this, probably hung in your bathroom or on the back of your bedroom door. Your dressing gown (or bathrobe if you want to be fussy). There is a reason most desert dwellers tend to wear loose robes. You get a double cooling effect by wearing them - you sweat, which cools you. The sweat condenses on the robe, which cools you again as your body heat evaporates it once more. And ladies, this is one time when it is fine to skip the bra. The chest is the go to place for cooling - don't interfere with it.
Cooking and lighting. What are you, some sort of wimp? Canned food is already cooked and daylight is perfectly fine for seeing. OK, I kid, slightly. While it is true that canned food doesn't need cooking, there is nothing so heartening as a warm meal at the end of the day, or indeed any time of the day. A small gas camping stove, fully assembled, is about the size of a 4 cup coffee pot, and the gas canisters are not only small but last for about a week if used carefully. Canned food does not need to boil - just warm it up and you are good to go. Lighting, again it is more psychological than a necessity, but it is a relief to have some form of light in a pitch black apartment. Coleman lanterns are great but bulky, Hurricane lamps are bright but the oil, to be blunt, stinks, battery or wind up flashlights are superb, but I would direct an apartment dweller to the humble candle. A box of twelve basic candles not only will cost you a dollar or so and take up roughly the amount of space of two packs of cigarettes , but will give you roughly 12 nights worth of light. Try not to get scented ones, after a couple of days you will have a wicked headache if you are burning those. A 3 dollar bag of 50 tea lights will give enough light to find your way to the toilet even in the darkest night since they burn for up to 5 hours at a time.
Food. Now there is more information out there on storing food than any other prepping subject. Everyone has a different idea about what the optimal is, but we are looking purely at apartment dwellers with minimal space here. The prime rule applies though: Store what you eat and eat what you store. Anything that requires some of your precious water to prepare is probably not a good idea. Yep, pasta, dried beans and rice last almost forever, but they'll take half your daily water ration and a ton of your scarce fuel to cook. The only food I'd suggest that requires water for apartment dwellers is dehydrated mashed potatoes. It is cheap, high calorie for low bulk, and you can prepare it with the water decanted from a can of beans or carrots instead of wasting some of your precious drinking water. My go to food for an emergency is canned chilli and corned beef. Can be eaten cold without you feeling nauseous, is nutritious and has enough calories to both keep you going and keep you warm, and a mix of corned beef, tinned sweetcorn and dehydrated potatoes made using the corn water makes a rather edible corned beef hash. Canned ravioli is also good, though hard to eat if it isn't warmed up. Remember, if you are in a cold climate you are going to need at least 4000 calories per day to stay warm and active, so plan accordingly.
Sugar. You are going to crave the sweet stuff, badly. Lay in a couple of bags of hard candy.
Sanitation. This is the trickiest part of surviving a short term disaster in an apartment. You can't flush if the water is not working and you certainly can't hold it in for two weeks. Peeing is not much of a problem, thankfully. Pee in the sink. Ladies may need to pee in a bowl and tip the bowl into the sink. Follow up with a shot of bleach. Defecation, on the other hand, is more problematic and one I've not yet solved, since we get rain often enough to fill a bucket from the eaves and do a bucket flush. I have invested in a couple of bottles of portable toilet fluid, which at least keeps the smell to a minimum and helps break up the stools so they go down with less water.
Communication. Wind up radio and a battery burst charger for your cell phone are both vital bits of kit that cost almost nothing.
Absolute essentials. Matches - sure, lighters are fine, but strike anywhere matches dipped in wax last forever (I am still using a batch that I prepared 11 years ago). Multivitamins - you are going to be eating from cans for a couple of weeks, so multivitamins make sense to take.
Just some thoughts for consideration.