They could have just stuffed more toilet paper in there if they wanted; no need to use a phone book for that.
The phone book, in conjunction with a map, could guide them to stores, the local power station, etc.
Adults might know where everything important was, but not teens or children.
I always wanted a nifty underground hideout (watched too many episodes of "Hogan's Heroes" as a child) but I can hit water at three to five feet, depending on how long it has been since it last rained...
Like the rest of you guys, I'd've been out there with the bolt cutters or angle grinder the first day.
"Donated the items." Dorks. I guess they're not worried about tornadoes, calamitous snowstorms, or any of the other little difficulties life might throw their way... If it was me, I would have replaced items as necessary, repacked, and done something about the water infiltration problem.