Dear Friends and Followers, I am watching a satellite photo of this monster Irene in the Atlantic, looking carefully at the computer models. Remembering, hurting. This storm is so big, yes it’s also powerful and it’s looking so huge that if you were to take the entire storm and put it in the Gulf it would completely fill the Gulf of Mexico. So if you are on the East Coast, I need to share the honest not fun truth with you. I hope you listen, I hope it helps.
I live on the Gulf of Mexico. At one time part of my GVT job was to activate Civil Defense. Unfortunately Hurricane Andrew happened during the 6 year span I had that chore, it was my first from the Civil Defense side. I have also lived through and experienced Hurricane Fredrick, Elanea, Georges, Ivan, and Katrina. Along with the kazillion little storms that were near hits or didn’t do enough personal damage to me that I would remember. I need EVERYONE to understand that no matter the category, the size alone is pushing an amazing amount of water. I lost a house to a tropical storm via a run off drainage ditch that normally had only 1 inch of water in it. When the circulation moves the water into these areas, you can and will be affected. Major cities are filled with glass, I have seen a stop sign completely pierce a 4 foot circumference tree. How do you think a sheet of glass will hold up to something as silly as a coke can thrown by your hand, now, triple that and think about it .
I am from the School of “Better safe than sorry” thought. Not panic, but self preservation. It has served me well. Yes some locals have laughed that I packed up, boarded up or even took a mini vaca further in land, while they boast how they didn’t even notice or watched it from their porch. In 2005 everything changed. My school of thought and my gut feelings helped my family to survive.
I have family and friends that stayed, most ended up homeless. All of us ended up changed. Some swam for their life in the dark with the sound of a thousand trains swirling around and battered by debris consisting of everyone belongings between the ocean them collected over their entire lives. I am not trying to scare anyone, but I am trying to make a point. Having a relative rescue the family on his young basic instinct and grabbing an ax as he rushed his friends family to their attic and then proceeded to cut through their roof when the rising water approached their sweaty, shaking, crammed in the darkness of an attic bodies, nestled in their extremely expensive, far from the ocean home on a golf course.
My point here is, the Hurricanes do not care about age, race, financial status or your ability to be prepared. It is up to YOU!
I see tons of Hurricane kits around, the lists are out there and yes you should find the most concise one and make sure you have filled it However after loosing property in 4 hurricanes I have learned a few things. I will now pass these on to you and you can take what applies to you, throw away the rest, but this is my actual HURRICANE PLAN.
1- Begin filling freezer with bottles of water, You need a LOT of frozen water. You know you need enough water to last you no less than 3 days, if it’s a cat 3 or higher or a direct hit, you actually need no less than 7 days worth of water for each person, the general rule is 1 gal a day per person, you decide 3 days or 5. Also by going ahead and filling empty soda or sports drinks bottles or milk jugs and putting them in the freezer when the power goes out this will allows some of your food items to stay good up to 1 day longer than if you didn’t have frozen water to keep things cool.
2-When the storm is getting close, clean your bathtubs, then fill them with water, fill buckets with water and place by each toilet, you can use this to flush your toilets. Of course you can buy boatloads of bottled water, but I find if I start a couple days before the storm I can fill up a lot of buckets, large containers and bottles with water from my tap thus saving me $ for the aftermath. If you can find water purification tablets get them, if not make sure you have a few gallons of NON scented bleach. ( Google now how to purify water and PRINT IT)
2a- Wash all your clothes, this luxury may not be accessible for weeks. Go ahead and make sure all your clothes and linens are clean,ready and put up in a high area or garbage bags or plastic tubs, this includes shoes. After Katrina, for weeks, all the obvious social economic stereo types were gone, as business men and officials were sweaty and in old dirty clothes just like everyone else. Also go ahead and mop and vacuum, get all dishes clean, these things you may not be able to do for a week or so after the storm
3-Begin eating your freezer foods, chances are your power will go out, could be 12 hours or 2 weeks. You do NOT want to deal with a freezer full of rotting food. Trust me. Go ahead and eat the meat in your freezer and fridge. This will also help you start to clear space for your bottles of water.
4- Stock up your food- crackers, energy bars, cereal bars, canned ham, bread, crackers, peanut butter, shelf meals, remember buy things you can eat without needing an over and preferably do not need a stove. You can use your grill to cook OUTDOORS so make sure your propane tanks are full and you have a spare, OR, get a bag of charcoal or 2, which you can use in any grill. Be willing to sacrifice your pans to the grill for food that needs cooking. You need 3 meals, and 2 snacks for each person for no less than 1 week. Put it in a Rubbermaid tub.
5-GRAB YOUR CAMERA OR PHONE- go ahead and take pictures of each room, the high $ things in each room, such as TV, computers, stove, oven, artwork, furniture, include the garage, and the same thing for your cars and boats. These pictures will assist you with any insurance hassles afterwards, take all the pictures and video you can inside and out, then download them to your laptop and then onto a flash drive. If you have to file an insurance claim this will help you.
6- BACK UP ALL YOUR IMPORTANT DATA- if you have access to a server ( not on the east coast) go ahead and back up your files, if not, save it to a seperate flash or an external hard drive then place in your water proof plastic tub ( large rubbermaid type tub). Along with artwork, family photos and important documents such as deed, mortgage, lease, birth certificates, pass ports, insurances ( health, life, home, car) and your jewelry or family heirlooms.
7- Charge your laptops, cell phones and cameras, then have all the usb chargers and car chargers ready. If you are using a standard pc tower and are leaving take it with you, if you are staying, place your pc tower in a plastic tub and place high ie: top of your fridge.
8- Cinderblocks and chairs, Put your washer, dryer, and other high $ appliances up on cinder blocks, if you get less than 1 ft of water in the house this will save them. Same thing with couches and chairs. Then take your kitchen chairs, and raise all beds by placing a chair under the headboard and a chair under the footboard, this will protect your mattresses/boxsprings if you get less than 2 feet of water. then cover with tarp, but cover them UNDER the appliance or furniture and then fold the edges UP over the item. Dust tape is your friend.
9- Move all furniture and appliances like your TV or dressers AWAY from windows and if you can place them on blocks that’s great, also cover things with tarps.
10- Bring everything you can inside. A potted plant, porch swing, or windchime can and will go through your window, or your neighbors, so bring it inside, anything you leave out is a potential projectile. BUT DO NOT USE YOUR GRILL OR A GENERATOR IN YOUR HOUSE OR GARAGE, this is deadly, and in every storm you hear of a family dying due to them using the generator in their house or garage, DO NOT DO THIS.
11-Flashlights, battery operated lanterns, and Glowsticks, you need them, also if you can find a hand crank radio ( usually at large home improvement stores, it will help you stay aware, yes you will crank it but honestly you and the kids have little else to do and it saves your batteries for other things, like lanterns and FANS.. yes friends when the storm is over you will be in this ridiculous heat, therefore you need fans, read my comments as readers have suggested battery operated fans from $5 and up. We have a generator, and a kazillion extension cords, with that we powered 5 box fans which helped us all. Also stay cool by dipping rags/hand towels in water, ring out and then roll and place around back of neck, this does help.
12- Be prepared for cell service to go out, you need to appoint a person, friend or family member as the POC, Point of Contact. Tell them your plan A, and then your plan B, as in, if we aren’t here, we will be here, or plan B, we will be here. Then alert everyone else who your POC is. Don’t assume you will be able to communicate. Send mass email now, alerting everyone to plan A and plan B and who your POC is.
13- Medications, if anyone in your family needs medication, GO FILL IT, the pharmacies and Doctors should be handling this over the phone right now via a phone message. Stock up and keep it with you. Also go ahead and get OTC benadryl, ibprofin, and a first aid kit. You will be taking a ride back to life in the 1820’s it was hard work to survive then, but they did it and you can to, hang in there and use all your modern help, ace bandages, neosporin, and ibprofin. If you have a baby, make sure you have 1 full week of supplies, diapers, baby food, formula or whatever the baby needs.
14- Trust your gut not your pride. If you have a feeling in your gut you need to leave, do it, screw pride, I would rather be prepared, leave and then find out nothing happened, then “act” brave and go through the possibility of the event. I can tell you that if you have children 12 or under, you should just leave, the PTSD on children is very high if they have went through a hurricane, the noises alone are worse than any horror movie on the planet, then add in the fear, the darkness, the water, and the possibility of them fighting for their life. Honestly just go, please go.
15- If you have children, have activities on hand, coloring books, puzzle, notbookes, and held video games ( charges) AND THE BIGGEST THING OF ALL- earphones plugged into laptop playing DVD movies, or a musical play list. This is important to help drown out the terrifying sounds.
15- Love thy geek. With house and cell service out, you need an ubber geek.. one that will find a way to power his HAM radio, this will allow you to get messages out becuase a local HAM operator will be able to reach all of the US, and Canada and a million other places, the HAM people on the other end will have service and contact your POC
16- Love they geek a little more- You can file for FEMA and insurance claims on line the day after the storm. So you need a geek who can and will power his laptop then allow you to file, If you are that geek ( as we were) we took the boards off the windows and spray painted, free water, file FEMA, insurance and contact family here. 3 hours a day we used our generator to power laptops and routers so that we could allow people the tngs you may consider small now, but will indeed be huge later.
So that’s stuff they don’t really tell you, if you can have tons of baby wipes or wet ones around rubber gloves, bleach, trash bags and tarps, combined with the above steps and everything else they say, then you have a chance to be less desperate in the worst case scenario. Fill your cars, lawnmower, Generator (if you have one) with gas, then fill at least 2 or 3 gas cans, if the Gas stations in the cities around you are blown away you need to have enough gas to get to a working station, after the storm you can use your car for AC and to charge electrical devices assuming you have purchased car chargers or have a converter ( awesome device that changes car charger into a standard multi outlet.)
Children under 6, People over 65, anyone near water, river, ocean, or even a run off ditch. Anyone with Asthma, or any breathing issue needs to go. When the barometric pressure drops, breathing gets harder, also the things that will be in the air and water during and after the event can trigger breathing issues for those susceptible.
If you stay. That is your choice, your right. But don’t think if things go really bad and you are fighting for your life that you can call 911. The police, fire and ambulances want to help you, and will often stay on the line until you lose connection, but they can NOT reach you, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN UNTIL THE STORM PASSES. Remember that, several first responders were injured or died trying to get to a family during storms. So if you stay, don’t get mad that no one came to save you. You must save yourself and anyone you are responsible for. If you are ok with that, fine. I know many that did it, and regretted it. Just please leave PLEASE I beg you. If you have yourself totally perpared. Please check on single moms, families with a deployed family member and the elderly. They may want to do these thing but can’t do it alone. This is the time for your community to income together. Have a pre-storm neighborhood or building meeting, know everyone’s plan A and plan B, then help each other by designated 1 person in the group to handle a task. After the storm have another meeting to figure out who needs what and how you can help each other.
Tornadoes not only cause extreme surge and influx of water to even inland people, but they have sustained winds, and can spin off tornadoes, So when the first feeder bands start hitting, find an inner room with no windows, hallway, bathroom whatever, go ahead and make pallets or pull a childs mattress in there, and get ready to do what we Hurricane vets call “hunkering down”.
Please go to the National Hurricane Center to learn the basics and help get prepared.
My thoughts are with you guys, be prepared, keep us posted. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.