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Hurricanes: Before The Storm August 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Nature, People.

Goofy-SurprisedUnlike tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes (which often wreak havoc with little or no advance warning), hurricanes generally don’t sneak up on us.

Weather experts monitor each storm’s approach, predicting the expected track and gauging the level of wrath, giving residents time to prepare and, if necessary, evacuate to remove themselves from the path of destruction.

What to do before Hurricane Season arrives:

(1) Decide where you will go if you are ordered to evacuate ~ you may go to a hotel or motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location, or move to a Red Cross shelter.

(2) Make a list of what to take with you, and pack a survival kit.

Pluto-Happy(3) Plan for your pets. Pets are not allowed in most public shelters and should not be left behind to fend for themselves. The book, Pets On The Go, lists thousands of pet-friendly hotels, motels, and inns from state to state. If you can’t find a copy of the book, visit PetsOnTheGo.com for information on pet-friendly places to stay in the event of evacuation, or vacation.

(4) Register with your local emergency management agency if you will need assistance during evacuation and there is no one else to help you.

When a storm approaches:

Timon(1) Listen for weather updates ~ remain informed. Make sure you understand the terminology.

Tropical Storm: named cyclone with 39-73 mph winds
Hurricane: tropical cyclone with 74 mph winds and up
Hurricane Warning: hurricane expected w/in 24 hours
Hurricane Watch: hurricane possible within 36 hours.

Storm Surge: a large dome of water (often 50-100 miles wide) that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. Along the coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.

In the event of a hurricane warning, local radio and television stations will have continuous coverage until the threat has passed. Tune in!

Donald-Duck-Driving(2) Confirm that you have public or private transportation available. If you plan to drive yourself to safety, make sure your car is ready ~ check gas, oil, water, and tire pressure.

(3) Check your emergency supplies, including your evacuation supplies.

(4) Secure your residence with hurricane shutters or plywood to protect against flying glass and debris. Secure or remove any outdoor furniture, trash cans, or other loose objects from outside your home.

(5) Call family and friends to let them know what your plans will be in event of an evacuation. Keep phone calls short to avoid jamming telephone lines.

(6) Pack a suitcase with a week’s worth of clothes for each member of your family. Remember the 5 T’s (toiletries, toothbrushes, towels, tissues, and toilet paper).

(7) Fill empty spaces in your freezer with containers of water which will freeze and keep contents cold in the event of a brief power outage. Fill your refrigerator with bottled water to take with you in a cooler.

(8) Have non-perishable staples on hand to eat if you’re without power. Some examples: canned fruits & veggies, bottled juice or juice boxes, cereal, crackers, peanut butter, nuts, raisins.

If possible, set aside a specific shelf to store these food supplies ~ so you can see at a glance if something needs replenishing, and so you can quickly pack everything on the shelf to take with you in the event of an evacuation.

Pluto-Rollerskating(9) Do the same thing for pets ~ food, water, medicine, leashes, bowls, rabies certificate & tag, carrier or cage, poop bags or litter box, toys, etc.

(10) Store important files in a way that allows you to “grab and go” in the event of an evacuation ~ financial and health records, computer passwords, checkbooks, credit cards, cash, and traveler’s checks.

(11) Have a central number for family members to call in the event you are separated ~ choose a contact person who lives outside of hurricane alley.

(12) Pack a survival kit: spare eyeglasses, sunglasses, medicines (2 week supply), special dietary needs, flashlight with extra batteries, portable radio with extra batteries, whistle or other noisemaker, candles, matches, lighters, basic first aid supplies, heavy work gloves and boots (for when you return home), and disposable eating utensils and plates.

(13) Prepare a list of important phone numbers: family members, physicians, neighbors, and utilities.

Other thoughts, suggestions, and ideas . . . please comment below!

Related posts: Hurricanes: Weathering The Storm * Hurricanes: Evacuation & Homecoming * Hurricanes ~ Other Tips & Resources


1. Naomi - August 24, 2011

OMG, this is really sobering, Nancy! I’ve just had an email from a wonderful friend in Charleston, SC,who says they have a hurricane headed their way. My first response, being a naive South African, was to assume this was a metaphor – before the reality sunk in!!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

The East Coast is facing challenges this week ~ a surprise Earthquake in VA / DC yesterday (with tremors felt 100’s of miles away) and now an expected visit from Hurricane Irene. I’m pretty sure they are already evacuating the outer banks of NC. And Charleston is a very low lying area.

Hope your friend plans to stay tuned in so she can evaquate if necessary.

2. Cindy - August 24, 2011

Must be so scary, I once read somewhere that you should fill your bathtub/s with water?

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Excellent tip! And also having bottled water on hand to drink. We can go for days without food, but water is an essential (especially when the power goes out and there’s no cooling from fans or A/C)

Hurricanes are not as scary to me as tornados (or being on a bridge in the middle of an earthquake) because of the advance warning and time to prepare.

Our neighbors across the street have NOT had to evacuate in 19 years ~ even though the island we live on is a Level “A” area which is mandatory evacuation when wind velocity reaches 74-95 mph or storm surge is expected of up to 6 feet. My sister in Orlando (quite a ways inland) has NOT had to evacuate in 23 years ~ and has only suffered minor roof damage from hurricanes getting too close.

3. SuziCate - August 24, 2011

Cindy, the bathtub of water is usually for flushing toilets or ememrgency water. I am so not looking forward to Irene’s visit. Living at the beach with about fifteen extremely large pinetrees in my yard always makes me a bit weary. Weekend travel plans have been canceled so we can attempt to hold down the fort! If I’m not online for a while we’ve lost electric or worse. Being a scouting family we have enough camping (roughing it gear) stuff to get by without electric…I just prefer to have it!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Like you, I prefer NOT to be in the path of a hurricane ~ I’m not one of those storm chasers who run around looking for tornados and hurricanes to watch. 😯

Here’s hoping that Irene will turn away from the coast and head back out to sea. Glad that you’re making the necessary preparations . . . just in case. Stay safe!

4. Carl D'Agostino - August 24, 2011

In Miami getting ready.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I’m guessing that you will have plenty of wild weather on the East Coast, Carl. Stay safe!

5. Judson - August 24, 2011

Charleston is my birthplace. It is an American city of immense architectural beauty and historical importance. Fortunately, it got through a direct hit by “Hugo” in 1989. I think the old city has weathered pretty much everything that has been thrown its way for a couple of centuries and subsequently, I believe she will be fine for pretty much anything that Irene can dish out.

— Judson

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I expect that you’re correct, Judson. Charleston is a beautiful city that has weathered many a storm.

Here’s hoping that Irene doesn’t slam our shores.

6. brainrants - August 24, 2011

Good luck. I’m used to earthquakes and tornados…

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I’ve never experienced either. I’m sure I would have been clueless if I’d been in DC or VA yesterday when the ground started shaking.

Hurricanes come with so much advance warning that I feel a “calm before the storm.”

Thanks for the good wishes.

7. Linda - August 24, 2011

Hurricane’s I can manage. I already bought our water and non-perishables.

When Hugo came no one expected so much from it. We weren’t really prepared and we all got smacked with a surprise. No water, no electricity. Could have been a lot worse but it was amazing to see what damage was done in our areas. Entire streets filled with trees was an odd sight too see.

Always better to be prepared even if nothing happens. Looks like it’s going to the Outer Banks now so no worry here. My daughter was going to the Outer Banks for a vacation but that’s not a big deal.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I’ve seen the aftermath of a tornado in Winston-Salem. Seeing all the trees down in Old Salem and our neighborhood seemed surreal . . . familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

Here’s hoping that Irene gives the East Coast a wide berth.

8. kateshrewsday - August 24, 2011

Gracious, Nancy! I’ve never heard this stuff first-hand before, only reports of the aftermath. All the practicalities make one’s head whirl!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I felt the same when you talked about the fires breathing smoke and ash in your direction. 😀

Life is always uncertain ~ too much water, too little water, forest fires, car accidents, earthquakes, tornadoes, plane crashes, terrorists, hurricanes, etc. There is no “safe place.”

We must strive to be calm amid the chaos or we will forever be ill at ease.

9. adeeyoyo - August 24, 2011

I’m also extremely frightened of tornadoes. Thank goodness we don’t get them here, although weather patterns are changing and who knows what the future holds. Any very strong winds make me feel uncomfortable and restless.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Life is a scary business, eh?

10. creatingreciprocity - August 24, 2011

We complain in Ireland about our mostly mild but rainy weather – this makes me nearly grateful for Irish weather! Hopefully Irene will stay away from populated areas – best of luck in weathering the storm – be safe!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Thanks, Patricia. We should be fine where we are . . . for the time being, at least. I share your hope that Irene veers away from the most heavily populated areas.

Loved the TED talk you posted today. She’s a wonderful speaker . . . and had the audience in the palm of her hand. 😀

11. Tokeloshe - August 24, 2011

Excellent advise!
Thank you.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Thanks, Tok! I’m just about to head round to take a peak at your latest post. 😀

12. barb19 - August 24, 2011

Great tips Nancy.
We have a cyclone season here in sub-tropical Queensland, but usually get plenty of warning. We had 3 one after the other at the beginning of this year, which cause terrible devastation, flooding, etc.
It’s wise to have an evacuation plan ready, so your post is very timely in view of what’s happening in the US right this moment.
Hope everyone stays safe over there.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I remember the photos on your blog of the flooding. 😦

Cyclones and hurricanes and tsunamis cause so much damage and devastation. Buildings can be rebuilt. Evacuating is the best thing to do if you live in the projected path.

Thanks for the good wishes.

13. Connor @ Citiesofthemind.org - August 24, 2011

Well, I guess Irene won’t get the jump on you!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

It’s not going to sneak up on us, that’s for sure. 😉

14. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 24, 2011

Great tips, good luck this week.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Thanks, Rufus! I expect we’ll be fine where we are, but I’m worried about the impact farther north. Fingers crossed that Irene drifts a bit farther out to sea.

15. earlybird - August 25, 2011

Sounds like sensible advice, Nancy. I once thought I might have to evacuate my house for a forest fire and the only thing I wanted to save were my photograph albums (before digital photos). They were patently too heavy and I couldn’t think of anything else! Luckily, in the end we didn’t have to go.

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Photo albums would be #1 on my list too. Glad you didn’t have to evacuate.

16. Tilly Bud - August 25, 2011

Did you remember to include important documents like passports, birth certificates, house insurance?

You must be in the path. Hope you are safe.

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Yup. #10. But unless Irene changes her mind, we won’t need to evacuate . . . this time.

When we moved to Florida, I made lists and plans so that I would not waste time and energy in the event of a forced (or voluntary) evacuation. Feeling “organized” helps me sleep easier at night.

17. I Don’t Care What The Weatherman Says « The Laughing Housewife - August 25, 2011

[…] an excellent guide to hurricane preparations, read Nancy’s post on what to do.   There is also a link in my blogroll so you can track hurricanes in your […]

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[…] Hurricanes: Before The Storm (nrhatch.wordpress.com) […]

19. flyinggma - August 25, 2011

Be safe dear friend. Excellent advice. I’m amazed at how many people are not prepared for emergencies. Something like being without power for a few days or unexpected company for dinner throw them for a loop.

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Unexpected company for dinner ~ no problem.
Being without power for a few days ~ annoying.
Forced evacuation ~ scary, but we’d manage.

In Maryland, we considered evacuating once during a Hurricane’s approach. In the end, we stayed put. Ironically, the shelter lost power. We did not.

Here’s hoping that Irene fizzles out or sails away to sea, and that if evacuations are ordered that folks comply.

20. William D'Andrea - August 25, 2011

Here in the New York Metropolitan Area, we rarely get hurricanes, and by the time they get this far north, most of their power is gone; and yet, they still do cause much damage, and we never forget them.
This time, the projected track of Hurricane Irene will take it directly across New York City, and Long Island where I live, on Sunday. By the time it gets here, the storm will have traveled across a considerable amont of land, which will hopefully slow down the wind; but we must all still take reasonable precautions.

This morning I went out and purchased enough canned and packaged foods to last me into the middle of next week. That should be enough. While there are flood warnings in effect, that shouldn’t effect me. I live five miles inland. My house is on the edge of the top of a hill. The street out front is very steep, so when it rains heavily, the water rushes away from the house, and roars down the street, which turns into a shallow, roaring creek. As long as I’m inside, I expect to be safe.

All the Emergency Service Departments, of all the local Commmunities are already preparing for any extreme emergencies that may happen. They say they are planning to evacuate all the low lying areas, but I have no idea if that will be possible. There are more than 100,000 people living in those areas; and I have no idea where they would all go. We definitely don’t have that many motel rooms, and I’m not sure how many emergency shelters there are.

While nobody actually expects things to get that bad, the Officials say that it’s better to be overprepaired.

They say, “Expect the best, but prepair for the worst.”

I totally agree. I also pray for the Lord to push the hurricane east, and out to sea, where nobody will be harmed. Amen

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

I expect that you are not alone in that prayer, William.

I’m not sure that God intervenes in weather patterns ~ I suspect that Mother Nature has the same degree of “free will” that we do. 😛

21. William D'Andrea - August 27, 2011

Whatever you believe, there is no restriction on the things you can pray for.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

You’re right. You can pray for whatever you want.

I don’t “pray” at all because I don’t believe in a personified God who is out there, somewhere, listening.

Instead, I seek inner peace to help weather the storms and tempests of life ~ God dwells within me, as me.

22. William D'Andrea - August 27, 2011

I have just downloaded the following forecast for my locality from yahoo.com weather:

“Today: A few showers this morning, becoming a steady, soaking rain during the afternoon hours with a few rumbles of thunder possible.

“Humid. High 76F. Winds E at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.

“Tonight: Windy with periods of rain. The rain will be heavy at times. Low around 70F. E winds at 15 to 25 mph, increasing to 25 to 40 mph. Rainfall expected to exceed 2 inches.

“Tomorrow: Tropical storm conditions likely. Very windy with a heavy, steady rain in the morning. Rain showers continuing in the afternoon. High 73F. NE winds shifting to W at 35 to 50 mph. Rainfall over 2 inches expected.

“Tomorrow night: Partly cloudy and windy. Low near 60F. Winds W at 25 to 35 mph.

“Monday: Windy with a mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 60s.”

While this will stil be a major storm, it looks like things won’t be a bad as originally predicted. If the maximum wind speed will be around 50 mph, there may still be major flooding, but any storm surge won’t be as extensive as predicted. There won’t be as great a number of large trees getting knocked down, causing power outages. Most of the trees will act as natural windbreaks. As long as we stay inside our homes, we should be reasonably safe and secure.

If this happens, I will thank God for answering all our prayers.

nrhatch - August 27, 2011

At least a million people are already without power, and five people have died.

So . . . is your God listening?
Or did those affected all forget to pray?

William D'Andrea - September 1, 2011

This is the first time I’ve been able to get back on line since a little after 3 AM on Sunday. Considering all the major flooding that’s been going on in northeast New Jersey, upstate New York, and even in Vermont, of all unlikely places, I consider your sarcasm repugnant.

I know nothing about the people you mention. I have no idea about their relationship with God. What Christians do is stand beside and try to comfort those who are grieving, not put down the beliefs which they find comforting. Often, it’s hard to know what to say, and it’s best to say nothing, and just be a comforting presence.

What I usually tell grieving people is, “I have no idea what to say. If you want to talk, I’ll listen. I’m not saying that my advice would be better than anybody else’s but I will listen.”

nrhatch - September 1, 2011

Christians put down everyone else’s beliefs every time they claim to be the only ones with a “golden ticket” to heaven. That type of arrogance is repugnant to me:


I just don’t buy into the twisted notion of a loving God tossing non-Christians into the fiery pits of Hell.

The Christian Church could do a world of good if it would stop celebrating Christ’s DEATH and instead shine the spotlight on Christ’s LIFE.

Instead of using Christ as a poster boy for “Salvation” . . . use him as an example of how to LIVE here and now.

What if?

What if the Christian Church acknowledged that ALL roads lead to “Heaven’s Door”?

That we don’t need “salvaton”?
That there is no Hell?
That we are spiritual beings who will benefit from loving one another right here, right now?

What if the Church stopped using fear tactics to bring people into the fold? And got them to stay by filling our hearts with joy?

What if?

23. ElizOF - August 28, 2011

I do hope you stay safe Nancy. We are dealing with heavy rains now and we hope the winds will be forgiving… Leaving amongst trees, as we do, is always a concern when the winds pick up… Take care my friend! 🙂

nrhatch - August 28, 2011

Smooth sailing, here on the Gulf Coast, E. I was surprised and delighted to see your avatar on the comment threads this morning since so many are without power. Stay safe!

24. Team Oyeniyi - September 1, 2011

I’m a little late, but glad you were prepared and that it got downgraded!

nrhatch - September 1, 2011

We didn’t have any issues where we are . . . but New Jersey, New York, and New England are still dealing with and reeling from massive flooding and power outages ~ too much water falling with no place to go. Mother Nature reminds us that life is uncertain.

25. William D'Andrea - September 3, 2011

Hello Nancy:
You’ve given me a good challenge, that deserves more than a quick answer. I will take the time to give full, well thought out replies to your question, in a full length article, that I may post on facebook or webook or both websties.

nrhatch - September 3, 2011

Have fun!

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