Due to recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, in our country, being prepared and dealing with the aftermath of such events is a big deal. These natural disasters can have life altering effects that include the loss of your home or even the loss of life.
I live in Cape Coral, FL and I’m sure as many of you know we just went through Hurricane Irma, but fortunately for me, my house is still standing, not under water, and all my family made it in one piece. This storm had no life-altering effect on me, but I was lucky while many were not.
This is where being prepared would come in handy. First, keep your eye on the news and the progress of the storm. It can look as though the storm is heading towards you, but at the last minute, it can change direction. Because of this need, any warnings were given, especially those calling you to evacuate. With Irma, there was a strong chance of a storm surge of up to 10 feet where I live. I live on very low land, so my family and I evacuated to higher ground. Always remember you can hide from the wind, but you can’t run from water. Storm surges are serious and can be very deadly so if you are in a zone that calls for more than two feet of flooding, evacuate.
If you have made the decision to stay and stick it out, you need to be prepared. What I always say is hope for the best, but expect the worst, this way you are always ready. However, when you are out and about getting all your supplies be mindful of others. I know water is very important and you want to stock up before the storm, but when you buy six cases at one store you’re not really leaving much for other people. Same goes for anything else: gas, propane, batteries, flashlights, and even food. I get you want to be as prepared as you can, but there are others who are trying to do the same. So, when buying your water limit yourself to two cases per store or one tank of gas per station because I can assure you if you were the one looking for these supplies and there are none left, but the person in front of you has six cases of water, you will be very annoyed.
So, now you have decided to stay and you have all your supplies. Next, is preparing your house. This all depends on the storm. Boarding up your windows with plywood or shutters is always a good idea. If there is a chance of flooding, sand bags will help deter the water, depending on how much you are expecting. Also with flooding, anything you has sitting on the ground that you don’t want to be ruined or on low shelves, should be moved to at least above knee level to be on the safe side. Lastly, find your safe haven. If you have a room in your house that has no outside walls, that is your best bet. If you don’t have that, the room with the fewest windows should be fine.
Okay, so now your house is prepared, what’s next? You. You need to be prepared. Power is most likely to go out so charge all your electronics and batteries before the lights go out. Grab a book or two or any other activity to keep you busy. The less you think about the storm the better and easier it will be. Also, shower before the storm because I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of cold showers, and if you are on a well you won’t have water at all. Also, while you still have refrigeration, freeze as much ice as you can. Fill bowls with water and stick them in the freezer if you must. Trust me, when you are living out of a cooler you will be happy you did this.
Now the storm has passed and your power is out, what do you do? First, be thankful you are still here and the storm didn’t take you with it. Material objects can be replaced, you cannot. Next, if it is safe, go out and assess the damages. With me, we had a few down trees and half of our back fence was on the ground, but nothing too serious and all very fixable. If you have serious damage, do not freak out. Freaking out is the worst thing you can do. Get ahold of your landlord or insurance company and let them know what’s going on. It can all be fixed in time.
Also, before the hurricane, go in your front and backyard and bring in everything that you don’t want going. Because chances are the winds are gonna pick it up and take it away. Also, if you have anything that could be picked up and be flying debris, bring that in too. We all want as little dangers as possible out there. So, pack up your trampolines, pick up loose stepping stones, and if you have small above ground pools, I’d take those down as well.
Next make sure whatever cold food and drink you have is already in the cooler because you are not going to want to open that fridge. Hopefully, you have propane, unlike me and my family, so a hot meal shouldn’t be a problem, but in the off chance you don’t, improvise. It won’t be great, but a PB&J and/or a can of fruit is better than nothing at all.
Here’s a little reminder: Just because the storm is over, doesn’t mean stores are going to open right back up or if they do, it doesn’t mean they are suddenly going to have all the supplies you need. I work at 7-Eleven and I can’t tell you how many people have come in wanting ice or food that we simply do not have. If the stores are out before the storm chances are they are out after it. Wait at least a week for these stores to restock because they have to wait for the deliveries to be up and running again.
I am thankful that after Irma’s treacherous path, I still had a home to come back to and all my family made it through ok. However, my family and I were not as prepared as we could have been and waited till the last minute to evacuate, which wasn’t the smartest. So, take what I have said to heart and keep yourself and your family safe by getting prepared as early as you can. Like I said, objects can be replaced but you and your family cannot.