Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hurricane Preparedness: Just In Case

Out the car window, driving to the seafood stand.

We're one week into Hurricane Season here and so far very exciting. We had a named tropical storm even before the season began (don't those weather systems read schedules?). Thus far nothing has aimed its pointy little beak at us, but they promise us that this year is our year.

Thanks. I am really glad that potentially deadly storms not only read schedules, but are also good at taking turns and sharing.

This season brings about a certain giddiness among locals, especially natives. For example, my husband. He loves a good storm. Looks forward to a potential hurricane. Employs words such as, "Cool!" and "Exciting!" He fondly recalls the hurricanes he has "ridden out" and animatedly describes the feeling of the house shaking on its foundation and then the utter amazing stillness when the eye hits.

(Honey, I love you and this is why I am getting you the help you need.)

As a young person, I am sure this is all very awesome. As a parent and homeowner, this is not at all cool.

Plus, my one and only hurricane experience---my first season included Katrina and Rita---was an utter disaster. Panicked people flooded the roads, blocking us in the city. We---one dog, two cats, one baby, one toddler and two adults---spent over two days in our car, rationing the remaining cheerios and granola bars, and the few bottles of water left. The children were pink cheeked and listless from roasting in the humid heat and relentless sun. The baby---Persistence---never cried again after the first fifteen hours. At one point my husband nearly hit the end of his rope, "I don't know how to take care of my family under these conditions," he said, and his eyes were the most telling. We did run out of gas, we were one of the families trapped in the middle of a highway in the middle of nowhere. We were the abandoned people, advised to "ride out the hurricane in our car" as the officials refused to send out any help or assistance, including an ambulance for the very ill woman in the car next to us, who was missing her chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer, or for my listless baby running a raging fever. Yeah I'm not still angry or bitter.

So you can understand, then, why we will be the people the coast guard must rescue from the attic because we will very likely never evacuate again. That was a more deadly process than the hurricane.

People always ask, why didn't people just leave? Huh, are they stupid? That's just being obstinate, and putting others in harm's way. Jerks.

This is why: evacuation SUCKS and is DANGEROUS and in some cases DEADLY. Yes, we saw death. That was SO COOL. More people died evacuating than in the hurricane.

Okay reining in the anger and bitterness.

Where we live, wind is not so much our concern as is water. We are surrounded on three sides by water. is the time for getting ready, just in case.The city has hurricane preparedness meetings (all of whch I've missed so far, unfortunately). We are officially Hurricane Evacuation Coastal Zone A. This basically is a guideline for the order of evacuation and the route (as in what inland town you are to go to...where they are supposed to have shelter for you).

But let's talk about what really interests me: all stores, especially Home Depot, are over-run with items you MUST buy for hurricane preparedness. As a gadget geek this is very exciting to me and every time we go shopping, I say, wow, maybe we need these iron clips, or hey, that hurricane lamp is cool. Are you sure we can manage without a generator?

My husband scoffs.

He doesn't however, scoff at my anal retentive organization of important stuff. For example, essential photos and documents are permanently stored in easy to grab and go plastic totes.

I am a planner, an organizer. I love things like warranties and insurance. Safety nets make me feel, well, safe.

This is why I want 14 new pieces of plywood, a new (hidden) flashlight (that the kids can't find and run down), and some sort of large insulating bubble forcefield/shield to wrap around my house. (Did I got too sci-fi channel for you there?)

Scoff as you must, but I keep a toiletry bag packed all the time, and a full pantry of non-perishable food. Next shopping trip I will begin stocking up on bottled water. If I have one commonly used item in use, I have a spare in the pantry just in case.

I am a big believer in just in case planning.

If you happen to peruse the disaster preparedness site (and if you've never been there, it is an interesting has a guide for every type of conceivable disaster and what to do, including biological and chemical threats and nuclear explosions---in which case, as a person most likely dead, I figure neither is my problem), then you will find I am actually not at all above and beyond my duty here. I am barely halfway there.

I do not have the first aid book or a dust mask. (Put that on the list.)

I don't have copies of medical prescriptions and my match supply is sort of pitiful. (Put call doctor and eat out at nice restaurants to build match supply on the list.)

Plus, I need to reupdate my thumb drive backups of files.

Preparing is costly and time-consuming, if you do all the things they say you ought. However, it is worth it to me, and I'll do it all, in case someone else isn't. That's right: I'll take one for the team. Because you know what all of this planning and preparation really is, right?

It is hurricane repellant.

If I carry an umbrella, it won't rain. Right?

P.S. For those who have already written their Hump Day Hmm post, I am collecting URLs. I said I'd do a Host Post this week out of courtesy to those who already did the post by the original deadline (and you seriously ROCK!) but I think Chani is the only one who actually posted hers up already. So I'll just collect URLs, hope you are all of a forgiving nature, and do the Host Post next Wednesday. Chani, I will put you on the top of the list when I do the Host Post. Next week I will put up a new Hump Day Hmm topic for the following week. Obviously you can post yours whenever you have time and space, just send me the URL and I'll put up the Host Post each Wednesday (with the links to the previous week's topic). I hope this makes sense? Ask me if not. :)

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


thailandchani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
slouching mom said...

Oh, I'd be your twin in hurricane preparedness if I lived where you do.

It's probably a good thing for my family's sanity that I don't.

slouching mom said...

Which is not to say that you are bothering your own family.

thailandchani said...

I am probably more like your husband... although I will admit to having a "bug out bag" in the house with all my important papers, some money, a credit card and a few changes of clothes.

That's the best I can do. LOL


As for the posts, handle it whatever way works best for you. There's no reason for mine to be at the "top". Just do it the way you always have... alphabetically or however. (addendum: Actually the response to that post wasn't very enthusiastic anyway. I might withdraw it. I'll let you know. :)

It's a good idea to give people some thinking time. :)




Mike M said...

Great post!! Great blog!! I will be back for more


Christine said...

Oh hurricanes SCARE me! And I don't even live an a hurricane area anymore. Prepared is good. Very, very good.

Lawyer Mama said...

And I completely forgot to tell you in the comments yesterday that I love the idea of having a week. That gives me some time to let the topic marinate.

I'm not nearly anal about this stuff, but probably because hurricanes meander on up here much less often. We have the same situation with water everywhere and one road out though. It would truly be a *nightmare* if we had to evacuate. I completely understand why some people don't or can't.

Mary-LUE said...

Maybe you can rent your disaster preparation services out to people like me. All my papers are scattered helter skelter throughout the house. I have a few cans of soup and a few cans of vegetable which my kids won't eat. We do have the three days of water stored. Yikes! I get so overwhelmed I never know how to begin.

Aliki2006 said...

Yes, we're entering into hurricane preparedness, too. My son is thrilled by the weather preparations and I need to be better at them. I agree--evacuation would suck and I can easily see it being more deadly. You'll probably find us in our crawl space...blech.

Gwen said...

(My Hump Day Hmmm, which I forgot to send you: can you say Summer Vacation? Struggling to find blog time these days).

Hurricanes! Eek! Theoretically, I agree with your husband, although practically, I know I would freak right the f out. Yesterday, they were predicting wind gust of 90 mph here in Chicago, which seemed down right ridiculous.

Kyla said...

Oh Julie, you guys had an awful experience. It took us 24 hours to get to San Antonio...but we made it. I got very ill at one point. Every time BubTar sees an Applebees he STILL says "Remember when you were SO sick there?" Traffic still makes me panic a little.

Josh is on the data recovery team at his job, which means next time there is an evacuation, we all get flown out at the first signs. I am so thankful for that, but your post reminds me that I need to start getting things together for if/when that happens. It will be a phone call and an immediate flight, so we have to be ready to leave.

NotSoSage said...

I am lucky in that the biggest natural "disaster" we've had in my city is too much snow, which shut down the subway lines. Tell me, why is it that a Canadian city has ANY outdoor subway stops? Didn't anyone anticipate that there might be a time that there was so much snow they wouldn't be able to clear the tracks? Sigh.

I can totally understand the desire to stay behind, regardless of the evacuation order. That's where so much evacuation or emergency preparedness falls short -- if you can't guarantee people that they, or the things they are leaving behind, will remain safe, so many people will choose to stick it out (as evidenced in your husbands pride over those that he has ridden out).

jen said...

you know, i can't even imagine. us californians have zero concept of anything remotely challenging (earthquakes, natch)

you people are heroes.

Julie Pippert said...

Thanks everyone. Right now I am hoping this is just not anything that will be on my radar. :)

Lady M said...

I do a quarterly emergency check and do something (no matter how small) to make our preparedness a little better. For us, its earthquakes rather than hurricanes, but the basics are the same. Last time, I upgraded the diaper stash for a larger size and added new canned food. I should add copies of our passports next.

K said...

Just thinking about your experience makes me sad and outraged.

"I don't know how to take care of my family under these conditions," he said, and his eyes were the most telling.

This killed me. I think disaster in many ways is harder on some level for men.

I want to be prepared like you, but have the worst organizational skills. My mother in law is the queen. She is always prepared for everything. She gives credit to the boy scouts. She spent many years as a den mother for Royboy. I'm so joining the boy scouts.