Unusual Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

On August 28th Hurricane Isaac made landfall very close to where we live. It was a long three days of wind and rain and for several of those hours the storm was stalled right over us. Our home sustained some damage and we were without power for six days but we have lived to tell about it. Hurricane preparedness is big in the Navy because a lot of Navy bases are located on the coasts and so for the most part we all know we need water, canned foods, fill the bathtub and so forth.  After living through this storm I have found a few more tips that can be helpful especially if you live in a PPV home.

1.  Have your own rental insurance if you live in a PPV home.  If you rent or own a home in town most people know to have insurance. In fact you can’t own a home without it BUT for a lot of families who choose to live in “base/post” housing they believe that because the property managers have rental insurance that they don’t need to worry about it.  Well, it doesn’t cover everything and it is a fairly small amout of coverage.  To ensure ALL your belongings are insured, buy your own rental insurance. We have USAA and received about $500 for our spoiled food, no questions asked!  But, do your homework and decide which company will work for you and your family.

2.  Gas up and have extra cans filled!  Storm is coming and you decide you want out!  But, then you notice you need gas and the lines are long.  So, you turn around and stay when you would rather not.  Well, rule of thumb in my family is: never let the tank go below 1/4 tank and then fill up. That little bit will get you far enough away to a place without long lines.  Now, the extra cans are great for generators and for cars when those long, long lines return after the storm.

3.  Have a back up communication system and one contact person to help spread the word of your well being.  After the storm there were no phones, no internet or 3G and texting was at a bare minimum.  Lucky for us the day before the storm we decided that my mother would be our person we contacted to say we were ok or not.  Good thing because she has ATT, too and I could text her. Have a back up plan… don’t count on social media, phone or texting only.  If you think you won’t have a connection plan to get in touch with someone somehow after so many days. Example would be: storm projected to hit on Friday so you call mom and tell her that not worry if she doesn’t hear from you before Monday, as suspected you have no service, so on Monday  you venture out to find a cell connection or pay phone and call your mother.  No news is good news as my grandmother always says.

4.  Only buy enough perishable food for 5-7 days at time.  Most everyone knows that hurricane season is from June 1st through November 30th.  Think carefully about the food that goes in the fridge and freezer during those months.  Six days is a long time for food to sit in a fridge without power.  A lot of people said their fridges and freezers were like science experiments after those six days.  To avoid this only buy enough of cold items for up to seven days. Can’t eat it in within seven days?  Don’t buy it!  This tip isn’t so much about the money lost but about how much you don’t want to have to clean that fridge and for those who are in PPV you could be charged for the fridge if it can’t be cleaned.  If you do have food in there and have or want to leave during the storm, put it in plastic bags and put it back in.  That way if you do lose power the clean up will be easy and the smells will be contained.

5.  Have patience.  Hurricanes are a stressful thing to live through.  A lot of waiting is involved.  You wait for the storm to come ashore, you wait for the storm to pass, you wait for the power to come back on, you wait for your kids to return to school, you wait to go back to work and then you wait and wait some more for your home to be repaired.  All that waiting can take it’s toll on a person.  But, try your best to keep life in perspective and have patience.  Maintain routine because the storm will come and go and the power will return and kids will go back to school and you will have to return to work and your home will eventually be repaired.  In a society where we want everything here and now being patient can be tough but it will save you a lot of stress.  Give the “system” a chance to work and think about how life will be in a year.  Promise, in a year, everyday life will be as it should.

This hurricane changed me and I have been in many tropical like storms over the years but this one was different.  Maybe it was because of the ages of my children and because they were very much aware of what was happening.  Mothering instinct to protect kicks in and makes you want to keep them safe.  Or maybe it was because of my Ombudsman position and hearing about other families struggles all the while trying to survive my own.  Whatever the reason, I know that I don’t have any desire to sit one out if I can help it. One other thing I learned is that hurricanes, as predictable as they appear to be, no one can truly predict what the outcome will be.  So, if the military is going to station you in coastal location take preparedness seriously!

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