Preparing for hurricane season


It’s August.  Those living along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts know what that means . . . we’re two months into hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th each year.  The first couple of months are usually quieter than later months.  The four nasty hurricanes I’ve been through all hit during August through October.

For those of you who are familiar with the problem, you don’t need any advice on how to prepare.  For those who’ve just moved to areas more vulnerable to hurricanes, there’s a lot to think about.  I wrote about my experiences during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 at some length;  I suggest you read or re-read that long article, and glean what’s relevant to you from it.

Eaton Rapids Joe linked to another very useful hurricane preparation article about surviving Hurricane Matthew in Florida in 2007.  It contains a lot more pre-hurricane advice than mine does, as well as many post-hurricane photographs, and is very comprehensive.  Recommended reading.

Another factor this year is the general state of the US economy, which is gloomy (to say the least).  For example:  are you aware that power companies don’t have enough spare transformers in stock to replace damaged units – and those that are available currently cost much more than they used to, and are subject to delivery delays four times as long as normal?

We’re used to all sorts of aid pouring in to aid the victims of a hurricane once it’s passed.  That aid may not be as plentiful this year . . . if people are struggling to pay for their own needs, they have less to spare to help others in need.  States, too, and FEMA, have a lot of demands on their funds to help other people enduring our economic “hurricane”.  Just a thought.

Finally, if you’ve just moved to hurricane country and you’ve never personally endured one before, don’t just shrug and say, “It’s another storm – so what?”  A hurricane can be truly frightening in its intensity.  A big one is very dangerous indeed.  See what materials your local and state governments offer to help you prepare, talk to your local emergency response agencies about their recommendations, and take steps now to get ready for one.  It’s no good trying to buy a generator, or gasoline, or sheets of plywood to put over your windows, when all the world and his brother is trying to do the same thing in the last couple of days before the storm arrives.  Do all that you can now, and beat the rush.  Later, you’ll be glad you did.

In particular:  don’t stay in low-lying areas if you can get out to a safer place.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen what happens when a few feet of rain inundate a region.  Those who stayed were often flooded out of their homes, and even if they weren’t, moving around, restoring electricity, etc. took weeks rather than days.  If you know the hammer’s about to fall, get out from under it if at all possible.



  1. Addendum: if you're moving somewhere along the Gulf Coast, do your research beforehand and figure out which local areas are liable to flood or are vulnerable to the storm surge and don't buy or build a house there.

  2. Worst case scenario is cutting a hole in the roof before the water rises above the attic, staying on the roof for hours in hurricane force winds, and wondering if the animals that find their way to your refuge will bite.

    I have a friend that knew someone that had enough presence of mind to bring a chainsaw into their house when they decided to ride out Ike. The chainsaw saved their lives, and reinforced the reasons to leave if you're in an area impacted by a surge.

  3. The thing is…. people who would heed this advice don't need it. They are already prepared or preparing. Those who need the advice won't heed it.

    Good of you to try in any case. Myself, I've reached my 'meh' point in urging common sense. If the size of my firewood pile doesn't make people think, then nothing I ever say will.

  4. My church worked with this organization, International Disaster Emergency Services, this past Friday, preparing and boxing disaster meals. One thing they brought up is that they don't ship a lot of meals inside the United States.

    Americans are too picky when it comes to food. 14oz of rice, soy blend, dehydrated veggies and a package of vitamins and minerals. Just need to add to boiling water and cook.

  5. Native Floridian here. Allow me to add my two cents worth:

    Vegetation surrounding your domicile should already have been trimmed, especially trees. If your trees need trimming, now is the time to accomplish that task. Duke Energy is our electric provider and if you call and ask them to, they will trim trees away from power lines for free – BUT DO IT NOW! Don’t wait until a tropical wave is even on the horizon as they have protocols they put into action. I don’t know if FPL or other providers do the same thing but it’s worth asking your provider.

    IF you decide to “ride out” a storm, remember that along the coasts city water is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion, therefore it is advisable to have an adequate supply on hand. If you have a top-loader washer, fill it with ice (if possible) and water, it can provide a lot of drinking water. Fill your bathtubs with water and fill large trash cans with water as well. Trash cans can provide water for flushing if needed.

    Have a 2-week supply of any and all medications for each member of your household.

    We upgraded our windows this year to withstand 140 mph wind and I am glad we did. If you have old windows, storm shutters are great but OSB plywood can provide decent protection. If you do not have protection and have to tape your windows, do so but remove the tape the day after the storm passes, otherwise you will have a giant pain removing leftover adhesive.

    Secure all loose articles around your property. If you have a pool, do not drain it completely as it could potentially pop out of the ground. Instead, make sure you remove only one quarter of the water as the rain can refill it for you and you avoid overflow damage. Ask me how I know.

    If the eye of the storm passes over your house, do not leave your home and “explore” or “check the property” even for a few minutes. The second half of a hurricane can slam harder than the beginning.

    Do not pick up any loose wires or cables; they may be hot and could result in electrocution.

    Be patient after the storm. Your power may be out – just like millions of others – so it might take some time for the,power provider to get to your street.

    Most of all, if you are ordered to evacuate don’t be a jackass – DO IT!

    May the odds be ever in your favor this hurricane season.

  6. Here's one few talk about. When the warning goes up, get all your dirty clothes washed. Put them away in plastic totes with a couple bars of your favorite soap in each tote (I use Dial gold.) Keeps your clothes dry and smelling good.

    Place the totes on at least 2x4s laid on the floor. Most flooding is only a couple inches deep. Metal shelves are better, as long as they're stable and potentially tied into the structure.

    Clean your kitchen and bath before it hits. If necessary, do a deep cleaning. And have a jug of vinegar to wipe your counters down during power/water outages.

    And, of course, once you finish all your preps, take a bath or shower. Take a bath or shower every day until it hits or goes away. And, most importantly, take a bath or shower right before it hits. You would be surprised as to how many people sit out a hurricane or storm after they've gotten all funky and dirty.

  7. If you count on FEMA to save you, you're lost already.
    The paperwork counts more than your well-being…

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