Hi,I had a completely different post planned for today but in light of the current weather and the fact that the entire state of Florida is in the “cone” of Dorian, I thought I’d post hurricane planning tips and a checklist, and links for you about hurricane safety as well as all the things I did wrong during hurricane Irma 2 years ago.
I will never forget the quiet hysteria that I felt while preparing for Irma. I have honestly never felt so out of sorts and scared. We had a mandatory evacuation order, and not knowing what we might be coming home to and how to prepare our home was so concerning. I know I made some mistakes in my planning process that really made the situation more stressful for me (and my family).
Here’s What I Did Wrong:
I Didn’t Leave Early Enough
I cannot express enough how much stress this put on my family. We kept watching the weather and the forcasts were mixed, so, I waited. It sounds reasonable to wait right? WRONG!! Let me just say this, IF A HURRICANE IS COMING YOUR WAY AND YOU ARE UNDER AN EVACUATION ORDER, L E A V E ! ! IT IS THE BEST ANSWER. Don’t try to ride it out!
I Didn’t Have a Detailed Plan.
I had a loose plan. It was a casual plan. It was basically not a plan. Because of that I got into a situation where I felt scared and confused. I was alone with my 2 children, my dog and cat in a hotel room in Ocala Florida while trying to decide where to go. My husband was boarding up our house and was going to head to Orlando. I was supposed to be going to North Carolina to my in-laws house. The traffic was horrendous. I cannot even describe how bad the traffic was. I was literally in line to get gas for 2 hours! Two hours in a car, in line to get gas, with 2 kids and a dog and a cat. After that, It took 2 hours to make a trip a few miles up the road (which would have only taken 15 minutes under normal circumstances).
I Thought It Was a Good Idea To Take Back Roads
I thought that I would take back roads. WRONG AGAIN! I had now sat in traffic for so long that I was burning through the gas and all the gas stations were running out of gas and I was terrified that I would be on some back road, and low on gas, pull up to a station and they would be completely out and I’d be stranded. So, I decided to turn around, and go to Orlando. My husband was headed there and I just wanted to be with him. We met at my brother in law’s house and rode out the storm there. I was happy to be with him but Orlando was hit pretty hard and we all slept on the floor of my BIL’s closet while the storm raged outside. The morning unveiled quite a bit of destruction and downed trees. We were thankfully all safe. We made our way home to find NO damage but we were without power for six days. Others had it MUCH worse and we were thankful and grateful for our good fortune.
My House Wasn’t Protected As It Should Have Been.
I should have invested in Storm shutters or hurricane rated windows sooner. We could have shut them and left. Instead my husband was left behind trying to find plywood to board up. All of the big box stores ran out of plywood
I Totally Underestimated What It Would Be Like To Be Without Power
We’re not talking a little storm and the power goes out for an hour or so. NO, we are talking 6 days and 90 degree temperatures. Hot is an understatement. I didn’t buy the right food and I think everyone was just eating everything in sight because we didnt know what else to do! I think by day 3 we were eating potato chips out of the bag for breakfast and by day 6 I was thinking about wine instead of coffee. I know that this is truly a minor inconvenience compared to what other people had to face and that fact is not lost on me. I’m just saying, don’t underestimate food needs or how long you may be without power.
We Didn’t Have a Generator
I should have bought a generator. Or two! For the fridge, for the a/c, for my sanity! Seriously, just go buy one if there are any left.
Here are my tips based on everything I did wrong:
If you are in the path of the hurricane and you think you may get an evacuation order, Leave earlier.
Have a Detailed Plan
Look at a map, make hotel reservations for places that you can reasonably drive taking into consideration the traffic then go pack your car. I’d put a gas can in the trunk too.
Protect Your Home Properly
Plywood is not ideal. But if you have to use it, I hope you’re already at Home Depot! Obviously It’s a little late in the game now but plan to get storm shutters. Start saving for them. Your insurance company will like you more too!
Don’t Take Back Roads
Just take the recommended evacuation routes. They recommend that for a reason.
Buy a Generator
If you do, I promise you will thank me. Please trust me on this!
Don’t Underestimate ANYTHING
That goes for traffic, food supplies, gas supplies, and everything else. Basically, hope for the best but be ready for the worst.
Petswelcome.com for pet friendly hotel reservations
Floridadisaster.org to get tips on putting a plan together
Tropicaltidbits.com for storm information
nhc.noaa.gov for weather information
Redcross.org for planning, disaster relief or to volunteer
Copy & print the checklist I created for you!
Please know, I realize my experience, in the grand scheme of things was nothing more than a giant inconvenience compared to what others have had to endure. However, it was an eye-opening experience that left me with a much greater respect for the magnitude of what mother nature can do. I am extremely grateful that it wasn’t worse because I KNOW it could have been. I have seen the destruction that a hurricane can cause and I have so much sympathy for the people who were affected much, much worse than me. I’m only sharing this with you because I did make some big mistakes. Mistakes that could have put myself and my family in danger if the storm had been worse or if I didn’t have the resources that I had at the time. Please prepare! Don’t wait too long! OVERestimate what you might be dealing with so that you are ready for any situation. I hope my hurricane planning tips and checklist help you in some way.
Big hugs and prayers! Stay safe!