Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Tips That Can Save Your Life

While those on the left are more concerned with spinning everything into warm and fuzzy mode, even natural disasters, one morning show host found a way to find the silver lining with Hurricane Irene. Hey, the aftermath of the storm might create some jobs, right?

Mike Barnicle, of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: We don’t have much time left here but is there potentially a rather dark, downside to the storm and that after the storm passed, after it’s over there might be employment in reconstruction and things like that?

Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-NC): “I hadn’t thought of that but obviously there will be some employment as people rebuild and prepare. This morning they said there’s at least 27,000 or 28,000 structures that have an opportunity to be hit by the storm. So, we’ll know by Saturday or Sunday. But all of us want jobs, but this isn’t a way to get them quite frankly.”

Just Thursday, former top economic adviser Austen Goolsbee was blaming natural disasters like earthquakes for continuing roadblocks to our nation's economic recovery. Maybe Goolsbee should have notified the Obama cheering section at MSNBC that they have decided to go with that approach.

While the east coast of the country prepares for a very large and potentially devastating hurricane by the name of Irene, I hope that people in the path will take the threat seriously. It is impossible to ride out a hurricane along the Gulf coast and not learn a very real life lesson - respect Mother Nature. We mere mortals have absolutely no control over weather events and if we have the luxury of advanced notice, unlike with earthquakes or tornadoes, it is imperative to prepare.

In recent years, I have dealt with some big ones. I was born on the Gulf coast and can speak as a native to give you some tips. Maybe you have read other blog posts about preparedness. Good. Read all of our posts and take it all into consideration as you prepare. See, that's the important word - prepare.

I rode out Hurricane Andrew in Lafayette, Louisisana - did you realize that hurricane not only flattened Homestead, Florida but then continued back in to the Gulf of Mexico and re-gained strength? It did. Then it went up the Vermilion Bay and hit coastal Louisiana. It was my scariest hurricane experience at that time and a learning experience on preparation.

In Houston, I have experienced Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Rita and then two years ago, I rode out Hurricane Ike in Houston. Again, many lessons were brought home in real time.

Tropical Storm Allison taught the lesson of never taking lightly the danger of a tropical storm. The storm may not technically reach the mark as a declared hurricane but the damage can easily be as life altering. In the Houston area, the storm lasted for such a long time and with continued intensity that streets, highways and homes flooded. Our world renowned medical center flooded out. Hospital basements and lower floors were under water.

Hurricane Rita was very much a 'real' hurricane and came on the heels of Hurricane Katrina. Rita didn't receive the attention due her because of the long recovery process and national coverage Katrina garnered but parts of east Texas were leveled and to this day are struggling to get back up and moving again. The victims of that storm seem to have slipped through the cracks.

Hurricane Ike was the scariest weather event I have ever experienced. I have lived on the Gulf coast most of my life and I'm capable of remaining fairly strong in the face of a storm. I know how to prepare and in that preparation comes a sense of strength. This storm, however, left no one I know in the area unscathed. In the case of my own family, our backyard fence blew down and we had tree damage in our front yard. We were feeling very lucky.

Here are some tips I can offer to those preparing for Hurricane Irene:

First and foremost, if you are in an area where an evacuation order has been announced please leave. Go to higher ground and hunker down there. That's what we call it in Texas, 'hunkering down', when you take shelter and ride out a storm. Listen to your community emergency co-ordinator and do what is recommended.

If you are evacuating, do so sooner rather than later. Traffic will come to a standstill quickly on any route out of your town. The longer you wait, the closer to the landfall of the storm, the worse that traffic will get. You will waste precious gas idling in traffic and running your car's air-conditioning to stay cool. Remember that fuel will be in short supply after the storm, especially when all power goes out - and it will - and the gas pumps won't work.

If you are evacuating, take a week's supply with you. That may sound like it is too much, but if it is, so what? I'm talking about stuff you will use anyway. Fill your meds. Pack toiletries and clothing to last several days. Pack pet food and supplies.

Take your pets. Do I have to explain that? I didn't think so.

Put all of your important papers and personal identification in a plastic baggie. Birth certificates, auto titles, homeowner insurance papers, auto insurance papers, passports, etc. Keep them on you at all times.

If you are riding out the storm, here are some tips:

Get to the store as soon as this decision is made. The shelves will clear out quickly and you don't want to waste time going from store to store gathering supplies. Don't wait to the last minute for anything. Purchase items that don't require cooking - remember, no power. Bread, snack items, fruit roll-ups, dry cereal, peanut butter, canned goods, whatever doesn't require refrigeration and will sustain you for at least one week.

Have at least one week's worth of any prescription medication you use.

Buy as much bottled water as you can. You cannot have too much.

Get cash. When the power goes out at your house, and it will, everything else will not work outside your house. ATM's won't work. Credit card machines at any retail outlet that remains open won't work. You have to use cash. If you are able to purchase gas, you'll need cash.

Purchase batteries. Again, there will be no electric power. Depending on how long the power is out, you will need to have access to news updates using a radio or scanner. You will need flashlights when it is dark in your house.

Put together a first aid kit. Keep the basics handy - band-aids, cream, guaze, antiseptic wipes, aspirin.

Secure your pets. Buy enough food and supplies for them for a week, too.

Keep your important documents safe. Plastic bags that zip closed and hard plastic storage boxes work best. Keep it within easy grabbing reach. If one room's roof caves in from wind and rain, you don't want to have to rummage through it all to get the important papers.

If you can, purchase a generator. We had one for Hurricane Ike and we were able to keep our refrigerator running and we kept the refrigerators of neighbors running, too, using extension cords. Cold milk, juice and water is a real luxury when the power goes out. And, ice. Lots and lots of ice.

If you have a generator, you will need extra gas
. Collect and fill several. Have your neighbors, if you are helping them as we did, do the same.

Charge all electronics now. Charge your cell phones.

Network with your neighbors. Find out who is staying and who is leaving. During Hurricane Ike, we banded together with two neighboring homes and it makes life easier. My husband kept the generator running during the 10 days our neighborhood was without power. Yes, 10 days. That is a long time and lots of gas containers worth of gas. The neighbors were good about taking empty gas cans and filling them up as they were able to get out and about.

It is a hot and miserable experience, the aftermath of a hurricane. It is an even worse experience if you are not prepared. At the very least you will have to deal with power outages. People get very tribal very quickly. The survival instinct kicks in right away.

And here is a good tip from one who knows - do as much laundry as you can to have comfortable,clean clothes for the duration. Cook as much food as you can if you think you will lose your refrigeration. Eat the ice cream and cook the meat. You know what to do.

Be safe. Keep calm and carry on.


aardvark said...

In coastal Virginia, we were w/o power in an all-electric home :(( for 14 days post-Isabel. :(

Anonymous said...

I bought a wind up radio at a surplus store - it cost about $20 - so no batteries that were always going dead. In addition to the radio, it also has a light embedded in it.

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