We started hearing about Irma as we were all still reeling with the devastation Harvey had caused in Houston and the surrounding area. Another hurricane? This one bigger than all other Atlantic hurricanes and headed toward Florida and the Southeast. Here in Southeast Georgia, we sprang quickly into action. As a hurricane rookie, and in order to educate all my mid-westerner family and friends, I thought I’d put together a list of what I’ve learned so far about being ready for a hurricane. Let it be noted that 1. I am NOT an expert. 2. The hurricane hasn’t even arrived yet so I have no idea if I’m actually prepared. 3. These “steps” should be taken lightly and are meant to make you smile during a time of extreme anxiety.
Top 5 Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane – According to a Rookie
Step 1. Fill all tanks with gas. This includes your car, your truck, and your
lawnmower GENERATOR gas cans, (I may have perhaps for a very short second wondered why everyone was filling their lawnmower gas cans before a hurricane and I didn’t really understand their urgency to get the lawn mowed). This need to fill all tanks with gas will lead to an extreme shortage of gas and for those who are late to the game (or maybe hurricane rookies) you may find yourself unable to get to work because you cruised home on empty the night before and now can’t find a station with gas in the pumps within a 30 mile radius. (Hopefully your lawnmower gas can is full!) Fortunately, this panic for gas begins early and most stations will be able to get gas to their tanks so that you can fill up again before the hurricane arrives because by that time, if you decide to ride it out, you will have used up all your gas going to work and back and to the grocery store three times a day to buy water – see Step 2.
Step 2. Buy water. This should seem obvious. We are humans, our bodies are about 60% water, and we need to keep that water replenished daily. Let me tell you this, though, when you see water, BUY IT! On my first trip to the grocery store on day one of hurricane preparation, there was a pallet of water right as I walked in and I thought to myself, “I guess they put it there because I need it so I better buy it.” I did. The next morning my husband took it to the office because he saw I had two packages of water. (He did bring home what was left at the end of the week.) On my next trip to the grocery store on day two of hurricane preparation, this is what I encountered:
On day three of hurricane preparation, that shelf was once again full of water and there were three full pallets of water right as I entered the grocery store. I figured that was plenty of water for everyone in town so I didn’t need to buy it because I was actually there just to get stuff to make my son’s ice cream cake for his birthday. I took a day off from the grocery store on day four and returned on day 5 which was when we decided we were most likely going to ride this thing out. NO WATER! I’m not kidding! What was I thinking??!! I ended up with the crap flavors of Gatorade and a couple bottles of apple juice. (Don’t worry, Mom, we will fill our bathtubs with water, and we will fill any other containers we have. If we have to start rationing, Kevin and I will start on the liquor and make sure the kids have water.)
Step 3. Go about your week as if nothing strange is going on – because it isn’t. There is SO MUCH BUILD UP and SO MUCH ANTICIPATION for this hurricane and the reality is that it moves like a sloth. Mind you, when it comes to mother nature’s terrible tantrums, I have only ever dealt with tornadoes. They virtually come out of nowhere, they’re usually moving at roughly 50-60 mph, and once the warning is given, you have about 10 minutes before it’s going to be on top of you. You immediately panic, step out into the garage to assess the danger, send the kids to the basement, and then wait until you see the funnel cloud to head to the basement yourself, and the whole thing is over within 30 minutes. During this week of hurricane preparation, we have gone on bike rides, our son has played 5 rounds of golf, our other son has hung out with his friends at the pool, and our daughter has had day-long play dates with her friend. The weather has been near perfect with less rain this week than we’ve had in many weeks prior. It’s been the epitome of the calm before the storm.
Step 4. Buy Food and Supplies. Today was the day when we made the decision that with the track of the storm moving away from us, we would be staying home. Therefore, it was time to shop. Please refer to Step 2 to be reminded of how many times I’ve been to the store this week. The entire town was at the store, so I figure we are at least in the majority in choosing to stay.
As a rookie, these are a sample of the foods I felt would be important to keep my family alive during an extended period of time when we may not be able to shop for food – summer sausage (Old Wisconsin brand – for a taste of home), Johsonville brats (they can be grilled and because we are from WI, we can’t go many days without processed meat), smoked gouda cheese (we are from the dairy state – what can I say?), Pop-Tarts (chocolate mocha and vanilla latte because those were the only ones left on the shelf), granola bars (our oldest practically lives on these so I think I have 8 boxes), powdered donuts (I buy these twice a year so now seemed the ideal time), 2 bags of potato chips (I hardly ever buy chips and the first bag is already gone), 3 bags of organic carrots (we don’t want our eyes going bad during the storm), a bag of mixed greens (we want to be sure we stay regular during this stressful time), 4 packs of batteries (one in each size so we can keep our flashlights working should the power go out), and a container of wet wipes because my mom in WI heard that we’d need some and she wasn’t going to be able to sleep unless I bought them.
Step 5. Tip over the basketball hoop and remove the monogram from the front door. Technically, this one is really about preparing your home for the strong winds and rain that will come with the storm, but on our bike ride around the neighborhood, only 8 houses had boarded up their windows, but all of them had tipped over their basketball hoop and removed their monograms. I suggested to my husband that we put our rocking chairs in the garage this afternoon when it was still nice out, but we decided to wait. Back in WI, we always waited until it snowed to bring in the patio furniture, so I figure we’ll be the fools bringing in the furniture once the torrential rain and 60 mph winds start.
Bonus Step 6. Attend the neighborhood pre-hurricane party. This one was the best surprise. With all the time involved in waiting for the hurricane sloth to arrive, there’s plenty of time to plan parties. We attended our first last night which included yummy food, hurricanes to drink (who doesn’t love a theme?), cigars for the men, tequila shots to finish the night, and many laughs with new friends who welcomed us like old friends. We actually sat out the second party tonight because we were so tired from last night. With the speed of this hurricane we may be able to get one more in before we have to hunker down. We will see.
There you have it! Now you, even those of you in the Midwest, know how to prepare for a hurricane.
*This list was meant to be light and fun which is sometimes needed during these very frightening times. I hope these words have lightened your mood, if only for a moment. I pray that those affected by both Harvey and Irma and the devastating fires burning out west are all able to find a light through this dark time. What I have witnessed already is that when mother nature strikes she doesn’t care who you are or where you live, and as we are all affected, it brings us all together – it reminds us that we are a community and as a community we can come together to keep each other safe, to help each other overcome, to help rebuild each other’s lives and in the process strengthen our bonds with each other.