As a lifelong coastal dweller, I have ridden out many a hurricane. As a survivalist, AND a coastal dweller, there’s a code embedded within my brain that tells me that, since I’ve done this a dozen times before, and I’m prepared, I can safely shelter in place. Which I did.
I watched Michael, oddly with anticipation, as it moved from a Category one to almost a Category five in less than 32 hours. Then, I watched it mercilessly pummell Mexico Beach and Panama City into rubble. The only way to describe the damage is to compare it with a nuclear blast, and that’s not an exaggeration.
Today I am loading up my truck to take some supplies to my friends whose home was nearly leveled in Mexico Beach. While loading the truck, I was struck by two thoughts:
- Next time there’s a hurricane in my path, run. Do not hesitate, run.
- I had never seen a “hurricane preparedness list” that describes which items you should stockpile for when you RETURN to your home after you have evacuated.
Keep in mind that you, and thousands of other homeowners, will be returning to your homes at the same time. Materials and labor will be in short supply. Having the following items pre-purchased and ready to go will save you time, money and unneeded stress as you begin the recovery process.
- Shelter – This means you’ll need roof tarps and possibly plywood. Have enough tarps to cover your entire roof line. You’ll need a hammer, some plastic cap nails, and some furring strips or 2×4’s if possible. Keep in mind, you can lose your shelter to mold or water intrusion if not kept dry.
- Water – Water will be in short supply when you return, you’ll need water to drink, bathe and to cook with. You should prepare a gallon per day, per person. Using a large water storage tank is recommended.
- Food – If you have already pre-purchased food storage, this is a great opportunity for you to rotate your stock. You should eat a portion of your food storage. It’s easy to prepare and probably taste better than most of the canned items. After reconstruction is done, you should purchase the same amount of food storage that you just used.
This will give you staggered coverage for the future, and give you a chance to vary your food storage menu with a different brand. If you don’t have food storage, make sure you have stocked up on canned food, rice, beans and sugar, which are easy and cheap to live on temporarily.
- Fuel – You’ll need multiple types of fuel. You’ll need fuel to to cook with, travel and possibly stay warm. You’ll also need fuel for your chainsaw to move trees off the house, car or road.
- Toiletries – Toilet paper, soap (for dishes and bathing,) toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and shampoo, diapers and feminine products if applicable.
- Cleaning Supplies – Heavy duty (construction grade) garbage bags and cleaning products. Dawn dishwashing liquid and bleach are good for keeping things sanitary (mold prevention) and cleaning up debris like wet insulation. Towels, paper towels and more paper towels.
- Protection – You’ll also need a way to protect yourself, loved ones and your property from looters. If times get desperate, keep that in mind that people will do whatever it takes to feed and shelter themselves, even if that means taking from you. The cops can’t always get there or protect you and there’s always plenty of crime a few days after a disaster.
- Bonus items Ladders, generators, water filters, plywood, 2×4’s, nails, a grill, chainsaw, wind up weather radio, flashlights, candles, extra batteries,rechargeables, inverters for batteries, and solar panels. I’m sure there are many more bonus items. Just remember that whatever you don’t take may not be available when you come back.
When evacuating take all your vehicles, and your pets. Hotels that normally wouldn’t let you keep pets will take you and your pets most of the time (it’s a law in most states). Take your cell phones, chargers, important papers, expensive jewelry, photos, cash, (ATM’s won’t work when you get back if there’s no power.) Take a cooler, gas can, and a portable generator if you can. You may not come home to anything after a disaster, but if you do have these or even most of these you’ll survive.
There are plenty of other items that may, or will, be needed. The point to take is: if you are going to evacuate, you need a post storm strategy. Items will not be readily available and the more you have stockpiled, the faster you will get your lives back to normal.