A lot of people are waiting on standby right now as hurricane Florence is headed towards their homes. They have the cars packed with all sorts of stuff and they are waiting for an evacuation order. We evacuated a few days ago since we already went through a similar experience when Hurricane Irma hit our property in the Florida Keys. I hope the things we learned from that experience will help others prepare for what’s coming.
As hurricane Florence is coming closer to us and preparing to make landfall a lot of people are running around like headless chickens. It’s the panic that takes over and they don’t know what to do to save themselves and their properties. Although it’s easy to condemn them, you shouldn’t rush to do so if you haven’t gone through a similar experience. It’s easy for emotions to suffocate you when there are rumors everywhere and you feel like you will lose everything you own.
When hurricane Irma hit us, we learned some important lessons and this time we are better prepared. I’m sharing here some of the stuff we had to deal with and some tips to prepare your home to survive hurricane Florence.
Preparing for Hurricane Florence
1. Don’t just wait to be told to evacuate
If all things point to a possible evacuation order being issues soon, don’t just wait for it. Rather than waiting for the last moment, you should prepare to evacuate in advance and avoid the last minute commotion. Even more, you should make a list of all the things you should take with you and take care of the stuff you leave behind.
Some people have worked their entire life for what they have today and it is difficult for them to leave it all behind. This was the case for our neighbors and it’s a common thing for most old folks. We had to convince them that their life is more important than the things they bought over the years. Your relatives may want to ride it out, but you should talk to them and convince them to evacuate.
2. Calculate your fuel use
When it comes to fuel needs, there are two things to consider. The first is calculating how much fuel you need to evacuate safely. Here you should think about if your evacuation route will change and consider the fact that you might not be able to refuel along the way.
The second thing you need to do is to figure out how much fuel your generators need and how long there’s going to run based on the fuel on-hand. Some people will hunker down when hurricane Florence hits, especially those that are not in its direct path.
On our property in Florida, we had two different methods of running our generators once Irma was gone. We had propane and gasoline, and we thought we should be alright with what we stored. We soon found out that propane was gone faster since it burns cleaner, but doesn’t last as long as regular gasoline. Another thing we learned from our neighbors was to store our fuel up high to avoid contamination with seawater. The ones that left their fuel all laid out had problems with theirs.
3. Buy a GPS
Some people will use their phones for everything, but you may need to consider alternate means of navigation after hurricane Florence disperses. The road signs will be gone and the roads you know could be washed out. All the visual landmarks you know may be gone and it will be hard to navigate even in areas that you’re normally familiar with.
This becomes harder when you’re on an evacuation route and you might get off course. People think that they can use their phone, but they forget that it may not be working at that point. A good-quality GPS, besides your phone, will save you a lot of trouble, especially if you know how to use it properly.
4. Protect your stuff
If you are evacuating you must make sure you’re not losing your house and everything you own. Bring all the patio furniture and other things you own inside the house. Board all the windows and doors before leaving and pack all fragile things in bubble wrap and place them in boxes.
There are all sorts of ways to protect your stuff and you must make sure they won’t float around when you get back home. Some people go the extra mile and bring all their stuff upstairs to protect them from flooding. All the valuables should be taken with you if you decide to evacuate and all the sentimental stuff should be stored in a safe place. Here’s a tip for you. Empty your dishwasher and put anything you want to preserve in there. We did so when Irma hit us and we did so for Hurricane Florence. Your dishwasher is waterproof and secured to the cabinets. It’s one of the things more likely to survive the storm.
5. Work with your neighbors
As hurricane Florence is about to hit, a lot of people will have no clue what to do or they simply don’t know what to do. Some of them lack the strength to do some of the chores needed to prepare for the storm. In the Keys, we helped our neighbors board their windows and we also helped them with the cleanup process. If you have the time, give a helping hand and aid those in need.
Our neighbors too care of the cooking and they were in charge of operating the generators while the rest of us were taking care of cleaning and fixing up what we could. Your community can benefit from resource pulling once hurricane Florence disperses. It all depends on how well you communicate and work with your neighbors. Just knowing what people in your community have that can be shared, trade, barter or whatever is critical before, but also after the storm hits.
6. Bring proper clothing
Talking about cleaning, one essential tip I can give you is that you will need solid footwear. After Irma hit us, everything we saw was house broken into pieces. There’s glass, nails and screws sticking out everywhere. Most people don’t have a pair of sturdy boots, because they don’t need one. This was the case for most of our neighbors in the keys and they had problems walking around.
If you don’t want to be put out of service, think about getting a pair of boots that can withstand abuse and some waterproof clothing. This will help you work easier without worrying about getting hurt and stuff.
7. Think beyond the grid
The fuel will be gone faster than you think and you will need alternatives way to charge your phone or keep your computer running. There are all sorts of battery-powered charging blocks and solar-powered chargers on the market. Once hurricane Florence leaves your area, there’s no guarantee that the power will come back soon. You will need for ways to get in touch with your friends, neighbors, and relatives.
One thing we found useful was to use the “zello walkie-talkie” app to stay in contact with people we knew. In case of no cell service, the app allows you to communicate with your friends and family. It can be found in the app store for iPhone users and play store for Android users. However, I must stress this one more, think about ways to charge your phone at all times even when the generator runs out of fuel.
8. Think about perishables
Some people don’t have a clue about what food to get to prepare for such an event. Most of them will choose perishable food like milk and meat. It was a common problem in the Keys and everybody was looking and asking for ice to keep their foods iced in their coolers.
If you pick perishable foods, you won’t be able to keep them iced for long. After 24 hours or so the ice will melt and the meats and other foods are going to spoil. At least make sure you have some ice stored in your freezer and don’t open it when the power goes out unless you absolutely have to.
9. How to deal with insurance companies
We learned from Irma how to make our life easier and we took an hour to snap a photo of every room, every angle, every open drawer or cabinet in our house. This is a good precautionary measure to deal with insurance companies. A photo is just as good as a receipt for insurance purposes. It’s worth the time you spend taking photos of everything you own and it will be able to figure out the things you are missing. Just make sure you take the photos before you pack all the stuff together.
10 Learn how to take care of your pets
A lot of the old folks had pets and some of these people just left them behind. I can never do that to my dogs since they are an almost equal family member. You and your family should have a plan for your pets. If you have to take them with you, make sure the motels or the hotels on your list are pet-friendly. Check local shelters from safer areas, it’s better than boarding them in. Bring their favorite food and toys along and keep an eye on them at all times, especially if you’re stopping to resupply or get some rest. When we heard the rumors of heaving to evacuate due to hurricane Florence, the dogs were no longer allowed to get outside and we made everything possible to take them with us.
A last piece of advice
The most valuable life lesson that I learned after Irma was to never take anything for granted. Rich, poor, young, old, black and white were all on the same level after hurricane Irma. Things that took us a lifetime to accumulate was taken away in hours. Luckily things can be replaced. In the end, it’s just stuff and things don’t mean anything.
The family is what really matters and you must make everything you can to protect them. As we are now safe from the wrath of hurricane Florence, I can only hope that our experience will help others prepare and convince them is not worth it to wait and “see what happens”.