As hurricane Isaac approaches the United States, and in particular the state of Florida, I must begin the process of making sure I have my ducks are in a row, my sh…. is together, and any other appropriate or inappropriate cliché I can think of to signify the importance of being prepared for a hurricane.
My wife and I live outside of Tampa, if you looked at a map we would be east of downtown Tampa. The community we live is one of the areas designated where people that are forced to evacuate come, we are 57 feet above sea level where Tampa is 48 feet above sea level, and St Pete is 44 feet. Those 9 to 13 feet makes a lot of difference.
Having lived in Florida for 10 years now this is now our 1st rodeo. We had lived in Florida for 2 years we had our 1st real experiences dealing with hurricanes. During the summer of 2004 we seemed to have a hurricane every other week for 2 months. Storm after storm pounded the windows and knocked out the electricity. The longest period of time was 4 days. The neighbors gathered for an ice cream social, and we took turns cooking for the group so we could consume the things in the freezer. As you can imagine, the steaks and shrimp got ate 1st. But this taught the wife and I a lesson and we immediately became more aware, and started our hurricane plans.
Our 1st major step was having hurricane shutters installed on our home. We didn’t have every window protected by the shutters, but 80 pct. of our windows now have mechanical shutters that will withstand winds up to 150 mph. We did this the spring of 2005, of course we haven’t even come close to having a hurricane since the shutters have been installed, and to date we have not had to close the shutters for any weather related issue.
Our 2nd major step was having a whole house generator installed, tapped to the gas to our home. This action was taken because of my health issues. I have a real need for supplemental oxygen 24/7/365. In addition, some of my medicines require electricity to deliver the dosage, so the generator made complete sense. It provides the power for my medical needs. The generator also allows us to exist in relative comfort during the worst of the storms. It also provides a safe haven for our friends and family. An unanticipated benefit of the generator is that it provides insurance for the neighborhood. Just as the shutters have prevented any major storm from crossing our path, the generator has pretty much guaranteed that the neighborhood would not be without electricity. The generator has been installed since 2008, and since its installation the longest the neighborhood has been without has been 2 hours. Our neighbors are always stopping and thanking us for our consideration.
Being serious again, our preparations for a storm are very real. During hurricane season we keep at least 7 cases of water available, when we are warned of a pending storm, we (like everyone else) stock up on the essentials, such as; tp, bread, milk, lunch meats and fresh fruit. We ensure that all our medicines are up to date, and that we have a more than enough to last several days without refills. Our plans also in backup plans in case we have to abandon our home and move to a shelter. We keep all the necessary supplies handy such as batteries, and old fashioned wired phones. In an earlier blog I wrote about how I had to prepare to travel, we use that same list in our plan for hurricanes. Clearly there is an overlap but that is okay, it’s better to be over prepared than not quite prepared enough. My wife and I both stock up on nook books, if cable isn’t available.
Don’t forget to get your vehicle filled up before the storm arrives, and plan to have some extra cash available.
The bulk of this has pertains to anyone preparing for a storm. But if you have a medical condition such as COPD or any other, your preparations must include plans on your safety and continued health. If you’re in a flood plain make your plans to evacuate now. Know where you’re going, what is the address for the shelter, its telephone number, and any other pertinent information regarding that particular shelter. Some shelters require you to bring specific items (clothing and such). Make sure you know what those are. The shelter I would go to if I had to abandon my home requires me to bring my own concentrator and power cords. Most shelter have a list of specific items they expect you to bring with you, you need to be aware of this and comply. Very few shelters have the necessary equipment available to meet your medical needs and you will be required to bring yours; such as nebulizers, concentrators, cpap or bipap machines and all the necessary stuff that goes with these items. The shelter you go to, will need to know in advance that you’re coming, they will also want to know if you have a care giver coming with you (they need to know for a total person count). Local law enforcement will need to know if your home bound, and if so, what transportation needs you have to get to a shelter, and you are obligated to make them aware of your needs. And you need to do this prior to a storm. Once a storm starts is not the time to be thinking about this. Create yourself a check list now, update that list as you and your circumstances change. Make sure you let your family and extended family know what you’re plans are, where you will be, when you expect to be there, and provide them with contact information for the shelter so they can contact you. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before the electricity goes out. Once at the shelter, relax to the best of your ability. You won’t be alone, and those around you will have many of the same fears. Be kind to them, it will help the situation.
Hopefully this helps in some small way. Your comments are welcome and invited.