Growing up in Florida, Hurricanes are not uncommon. Sometimes as Floridians we even downplay the seriousness of the situation, saying things like “We’ll get some wind and rain, maybe lose power, and move on”. Recently I heard the quote “There is no such thing as a minor hurricane”, and I have to say I agree.
My personal viewpoint on hurricanes has fluctuated over the years. Fortunately I have never experienced a full-force hurricane, but I grew up hearing stories about Hurricane Dora, which hit the area in 1964. My dad’s family moved to Florida right around that time, and my mom grew up here. When I was in middle school we had a close call from Hurricane Floyd. We were expected to get a direct hit, so we packed up and began to evacuate. After several hours of sitting in traffic on our way through Georgia the storm was reported to be turning, so we went back. I remember being terrified, and my parents and sister had to reason with me to calm me down. Even though we did not get the full force of that storm we still lost power for over a day. Also, the family photos that my mom packed into a plastic box and put them in the center of the house may or may not have stayed that way for some time.
After that my attitude towards hurricanes became somewhat cocky. This may also have to do with the fact that I was entering my teenage years. I would still watch the forecasts like a hawk, but they always seemed to turn at the last minute. People in the area believe we are protected by the Gulf Stream, and though I never fully bought into that, I did get a bit more relaxed about the idea of hurricanes.
Then when I was just starting college at Florida State the forecast for Katrina said the storm was headed straight for us. As a category 4 or 5. Even then I was cocky. “Oh it won’t be that bad, we’ll get some rain, maybe some downed trees and lose power. We’ll be fine.” I remember even being a little flippant after the storm hit. “Florida gets hit by hurricanes all the time, what’s the big deal?” Finally, after seeing some of the pictures and hearing some of the stories, the magnitude of what had happened hit home. Ever since then, I watch the radar like a hawk, stock up on supplies, and try to prepare the best that I can.
This morning Hurricane Irene, which was initially predicted to be heading straight for us, passed by our city about 240 miles off the coast. Even with the storm that far away area beaches experienced sustained winds over 20mph with gusts into the 50s.
I’m sure anyone who is not in the path of Irene is sick of hearing about it, and maybe those of you who are in the path are sick of it too, but I personally believe that you can never be told enough. In the case of hurricanes it’s always best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
image from The Weather Channel
At a minimum, The Weather Channel suggests you have these essentials on hand:
During a hurricane, and possibly for days or even weeks afterward, electricity and other utilities might not be available. Debris and/or water might block the roads, preventing vehicles from getting in our out of your neighborhood. Help might not reach you for days after the hurricane, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during that period.
Here are some of the most critical supplies to have on hand, well before a hurricane threatens:
- At least a 3-day and preferably a 7-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
- Non-perishable food
- Formula, diapers, and other baby supplies
- Manual can opener
- First aid kit
- Prescription and non-prescription medicines
- Cell phones and battery-powered cell phone chargers
- Battery-powered radios and flashlights
- Plenty of batteries
- Extra cash
- Blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games (especially if evacuating)
If you are a pet owner you will need to take precautions for your pets as well. This is a list from the National Hurricane Center on how to perpare your pets. And this is a list from The Weather Channel on preparing your home. 7th House on the Left also had a great post on being prepared for the unexpected.
And a few more of my personal thoughts (which may be slightly “duh” things):
- If you are in the path of a hurricane, especially if you are in a low-lying area- get out! Prepare your house/apartment the best you can, and leave town. Take your pets with you if possible, they stand a better chance if they are with you.
- Mandatory evacuations are not to be ignored. There is a reason they are telling anyone who ignores the evacuations to put their ID in their left shoe, and yes it is partially to scare you so that you will leave!
- Do not drive through flood waters. Just don’t do it. Especially if there is any risk of a downed, live power line.
- Even after the rain has stopped, there is danger from high winds and downed power lines.
- If you are going to board your windows, use screws not nails – they are stronger.
- Houses, cars, boats, etc can all be replaced, your life cannot. Please don’t take any chances!
We’ll be back later with another post about the things we did around the house in preparation for Irene, even after the likelihood of a direct hit had passed.