Being Organized in the Face of a Storm

Let me show you guys a picture. Just a little picture of a storm…

Hurricane Irma 2017 Storm

You see that?

That is the forecast track for the CAT 5 Hurricane Irma, as of 11:00 this morning! 

And do you see where it says Tampa down there in good ol’ Florida? Yeah. We live in a suburb of Tampa, so if you look REALLY close, you might see me waving…

In short, we appreciate any prayers you feel led to send towards us as this imposing storm heads our way! There is still time for things to change and the track to shift, however, we are BIG on being prepared around here, NOT waiting until the last minute, so we are ready for whatever Irma has for us. We are Florida natives, we know the drill, we’ve lived through this stuff before and we are ready…but we are also feeling pretty cautious…because this is a HUGE storm, folks. We’re talking breaking records HUGE. As of now, we are planning on riding it out. Our home is strong and in excellent repair. Concrete block, double-pane windows, and not covered with trees that could take out the roof. However, as we monitor the path of the storm, we may decide to evacuate. We have places to go, and babies and animals to care for.

Lots of folks in our area are panicking. Water and gas ran out yesterday. Although we’re still a few days out, so resources are coming back in today, which is great! But that hasn’t stopped the lines wrapped around buildings for water and fistfights in the stores over supplies. This kind of event can definitely bring out the best in people…or the WORST.

In light of these fun facts, I thought I’d combine a lot of awesome tips I’ve seen flying around the internet over the past couple of days, in hopes that, if you know someone who needs to read this, it would be helpful. And, if YOU want to file it away for when it’s YOUR turn to receive a storm like this one, that works, too!

On Preparing

1. Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags. Fill as much space in between your freezer items as you can.

2. Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in Tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water and the lids so the ice expands but doesn’t crack the container.

3. Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the freezer. Break out your coolers and ice them up, too.

4. Fill up all vehicles with gas and check tires and fluids and spares. Fill up any gas containers you may have.

5. Cash from ATM, at least enough to get you through tolls and gas out of town, if needed, and to get you by until banks open again if you’re staying in town. 

6. All important docs screenshot and sent to your email. Keep originals in sealed bags, plastic bins, or a waterproof/fireproof carry-able safe.

7. Walk through your house and take a video of all your possessions. Don’t forget to email it to yourself.

8. Pet & livestock food and supplies. Vet records in case you need to shelter them at a storm-safe facility.

9. Consider putting heirlooms and photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don’t plan on taking them with you. Also, storing them in your washing machine, dryer or dishwasher could work, too.

10. SECURE ALL FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION PROPERLY!

11. Old rags and beach towels on your windowsills. Even with the best windows and shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels is better than soaked drywall or floors!

12. Shutter windows and doors and bring everything (all loose items) outside into your garage or house NOW. Things like lawn furniture, etc. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until its too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).

13. If you don’t already have your hurricane supplies, you might want to get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.

14. Stock up on dry goods, bottles of water, any containers you could hold water in, and a water filter for your faucet.

15. If you have a grill, stock up on propane or charcoal.

16. If you’re concerned about flooding, obtain sandbags from your local emergency management division. If you don’t know where to get sandbags, again, check with your local fire or police department. They can direct you.

17. If you’re concerned about the windows on your home, obtain plywood, screws and a drill from your local hardware store.

18. Fill your tubs with water to flush your toilets with.

19. Lower your pool water to prevent flooding from that.

20. Charge all your electronics, and locate any backup power sources you may have. If you can find a power bank for your cell phone or computer while you’re grabbing supplies, that’s a great thing to have on hand.

21. Get your trash out beforehand! If there’s lots of debris after the storm, you don’t want to have a lot of regular trash in your can alreadyand then add debris on top of it.

22. SHUT ALL INTERIOR doors, as well as windows and exterior doors. The advice follows an intensive summer study at our unique research center in South Carolina that examined how a full scale single family home performed in scientific wind testing. Debris flies in a hurricane and if a window is broken or seals fail, wind pressure can build inside the home and press upward on a roof that is already stressed by external forces like wind, rain and debris. Closing interior doors can “compartmentalize” the pressure and reduce upward force on the roof. It’s a simple step that could make a big difference in how the roof performs.

On Evacuating

1. Your valuables and vehicles should already be prepped as stated above. Gather them and load your vehicles. 

2. Leave a cup of frozen water in your freezer, and set a quarter on top of it. When you return, if the quarter is still on top, you know your freezer held up against any power outages. If the quarter has sunk…you know there was lots of melting involved, and your food is probably no longer safe for consumption.

3. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don’t freeze your card for out-of-area “suspicious” transactions.

4. If you have no friends or family to stay with, now is a great time to take a vacation! Try to book something online as you’re leaving so you know you will have shelter. And if you’re trying to stay close to home, you can find local shelters at your County’s online government website. If you do not have online access, contact your nearest police or fire department and they can direct you.

If you live along the coast and the storm will impact you, you will be told to evacuate. That‘s when you evacuate.

If you live inland, and the storm will impact you, you will probably not be told to evacuate unless you live in a mobile home or similar structure. If you’re not told to evacuate, maybe you shouldn’t.

Here’s what happens when you evacuate just because:

Interstates become jammed and backlogged for those that are under evacuation orders/warnings and need to get out.
Jammed interstates mean a delay in supplies and aid to areas of need. Upset that your store is out of water? Can’t find the pop tarts you want? They’re probably stuck in traffic and late for deliveries because people who haven’t been told to evacuate are getting an early start out of Florida. Imagine if you need meds refilled before the storm, but the delivery can’t get to the pharmacy in time because the wrong people are in the way too early. You live inland in Davenport and booked a hotel room in Valdosta and are holding it “just in case” the storm gets scarier? Congratulations. You just took a hotel room from someone in the Keys who IS actually under mandatory evacuation. Now they can’t find a place to stay and have to drive even further north. Great job. Guess who else you’ve affected? The next group under mandatory evacuation from South Florida. These people that live in coastal areas will lose everything to water AND wind. Holding rooms “just in case”, has made this catastrophic event that much harder for them.

Coastal Areas = A WATER & WIND event

If you are in a coastal area, you’re probably going to be evacuated. Go into this knowing that the interstates are already a parking lot because panic has people that probably don’t need to evacuate sucking up resources you and your family need to get to safety. My heart goes out to you. I’m sorry for what you are about to endure.

Inland Areas = A WIND event 

If you are inland prepare for something you may have not seen before. Have food, water, supplies, and patience. You don’t have to worry about storm surge. If you are flood prone, consider sand bags. They’re free all over the place – check the fire stations and the usual locations. Have your vehicles gassed up and execute all the other good Hurricane preparedness advice that’s available. Expect damage and plan for windows to break and trees to fall. Things will fly. It’s going to be like an apocalypse and maybe end up being something from The Walking Dead. Stay off the roads, stay tuned in, and help each other.

If you evacuate when you shouldn’t because of panic, you not only clog traffic heading out, but when you travel home to see how many branches are down in your yard, now you’re blocking traffic for those trying to GET IN to provide aid and assistance to those that lose everything.

On Communicating

Make sure friends and family know where you are going if you leave, where you are staying if you stay, and if any plans change. After the storm, folks will want to check in with you to make sure things are okay, so don’t make that difficult for them!

Lots of folks in Houston who are still sorting out the messes from Hurricane Harvey say that the app, Zellow Walkie Talkie, was a huge help to them when cell service went down. Consider downloading that app, and making sure those around you do, too! It’s free! And it also offers an app for your Apple Watch!

*Update: Apparently Zello only works with a 2G or higher signal – so hopefully it works if you need it!

Now is a great time to meet your neighbors, if you haven’t already! Introduce yourself and find out what their plans are! 

ABOVE ALL ELSE…

As I said before, these kinds of events either bring out the best in folks, or they bring out the worst. PLEASE. Be kind to those around you. Help one another. Put aside petty differences.

AND LET’S ALL GET THROUGH THIS!

If you have a tip to add, please say so in the comments! Let’s help each other out!

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

14 thoughts on “Being Organized in the Face of a Storm

  1. This is terrifying, however, it’s also nice that meteorologists can predict these hurricanes at least a week if not more in advance so you can prepare and LEAVE if you have to before things get REALLY BAD! Praying for you and everyone else for sure!!!

  2. I am sending so many well wishes for you as you prepare for this. It sounds like you’re prepared, but I know that it’s stressful.

  3. I really enjoyed your colorful layout and use of subtitles. It makes it very easy to read and follow. Thank you for sharing this helpful information and hope that you are staying safe!

  4. These are some great tips and although I live in the Northeast I am sure these tips will be necessary for me to know at some point this hurricane season. I never want to be caught off guard like with Sandy and Irene. Thank You

  5. This is a great post for organizing in the face of a storm. Hurricanes are something we never had to deal with in our area. All of this is amazing information for those that have never been through a storm like Irma. I am praying everyone in Irma’s path. Thanks for sharing all this important information.

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