Going through your first? Lost count of how many you’ve been in? Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, hurricane preparedness is an artform and often left to interpretation. Here’s my guide to not freaking out.
First off, before anything, you should freak out. There is a hurricane coming. A hurricane. A storm is the size of your state is about to drown you in an attempt to be rid the planet of filth. Mother nature is looking to shed some skin and you are excess foliage. Technically you don’t have any idea if it’s gonna hit you right now, but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your anxiety up. Freaking out elevates the heart rate which pumps more blood into the brain and through the body as it heightens one’s senses to perform at its most optimal rate and efficiency. Don’t @ me.
But in order achieve Super Hurricane Mode, I’ve learned that by knowing your way around, managing the situation, coping with those around you, and preparing for the worse, you can usually make it out of these things relatively uscathed. After you’ve gone through a few, you’ll be carved out of wood and be able to withstand any storm Mother Nature decides to throw your way. Unless it’s a truck. Or a cow. Or even like a feather cause apparantly the winds are so strong that it can impale even a tree.
Knowing your Storm
A hurricane as defined by the great Merriam-Webster, as a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes blah blah blah blah blah, it’s the hand of God. Tornadoes are the finger of God and this is God’s bitch slap. Mother Earth swatting the mosquitoes on her back and picking at the scabs on her skin. Instead of a flyswatter, she births a hurricane and it is our job to give it a name. That is our punishment. We name that which destroys us. Drowning climate deniers in a bathtub of furious buzzsaws of rain and wind that is going to cut you half and leave you writhing on the floor. So wake up. This isn’t poops and giggles here kids. This is life and death. Don’t take anything lightly that tries to imitate the shape of a galaxy and is used to name flying kicks by Ryu.
You’re either going to ride out the storm or evacuate. Heed the warnings and decide sooner rather than later. Those that do rough it out will have to prepare for the worse (ding ding ding) and those that evac will seek shelter outside of danger either through government sanctioned facilities or through family and friends. If you don’t have the latter always seek shelter at a local facility. Never take on the storm in the streets. She has knives and will cut a mother in the night.
Tourists should always refer to their hotel officials and concierges but in my experience get the hell out. You don’t want any of this. Don’t ride it out cause it would be a good bonding experience for the kids. Don’t be that Dad. Mother Earth hates you cause you fart too much and show up and pee in her oceans and trash her beaches. She is here to wreck your summer vacation. Don’t wait. Like if you just landed, “Hey, what’s up! Welcome to FL!”, now just change seats and go back home. You don’t want any of this and you don’t want to get stuck at an airport with no hotel back up. If you have to ride it out in the hotel be aware of what floor your room is on and the wind direction. Yeah it’s a great view, it’s also a cow heading toward you about to crash through. Worse you don’t want to get stuck on the highway in traffic on a late evacuation. They are the first to go in any disaster movies.
WHAT TO GET
So you’re gonna stick it out. Really? Like I just told you it’s a a buzzsaw of wind and rain and you’re like, “No, I’m good, no worries.” Ok. Fine.
Before anything, take a deep breath and freak out again cause the hurricane is closer, it’s bigger and well, it looks like you’re now in “The Cone”. The cone is the eye of the Cyclops. No not the fabled one eyed cyclops of Greek mythology. I’m talking about the fabled Cyclops for Marvel mythology.
The Cone is the line of sight of the hurricane. It is Cyclops blasting anything in his path. If you are in the cone, you are in in the way, so get your act together. Computers that launch satellites into space and track Mars rovers and aliens and can launch a missile from Alaska and hit an ant in New Zealand have plotted with a 99.99999% probability that you will be in the eye of the storm. Mother Earth is angry with you and she’s started to take off her belt.
There are three essentials that everyone will fight each other to the death for in the coming days- Fuel, Food, & Supplies. Think of it as training for the zombie apocalypse if you know the zombie apocalypse is coming. That’s the advantage we have against these storms. With the help of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, we can now track and predict these storms pretty accurately (better than in all of history), which allows us all to better prepare for them.
It’s the first thing you should get. Why? Because it’s the first thing everyone gets and the first things that runs out. And if the storm is bad and it runs out there is a period of at least 1-2 days where there may not be any available because flooded roads and downed trees my block any trucks from getting through (not to mention any damage to stations and power outages after the storm). Also you are more than likely going to have to fill up twice because you will running around collecting supplies. So if you get gas first you are full enough to run your errands with only a need to top off. If you can’t get gas after running errands you should still have enough to keep you going for 2-3 days. Remember you’re more than likely staying put till the power comes back. Highly impacted areas are often evacuated but if they are not and have a vehicle that still works and gets you out, you will have to go off roading (it might be a good time to double check your spare tires too).
Taking the car should be for emergencies only as for most it will become the central hub for survival. Use it to charge your electronics and rechargeable lights and laptops and escape the heat when your AC is out. Just remember not to turn on your car in a garage and stay in there cause you’ll die. If you can’t open the garage door cause the power is out definitely don’t back the car out through and try and make an insurance claim. Don’t @ me.
You’re also going to need fuel for generators which have become absolutely key. In years past access to a generator was limited as they were large and expensive. But today, prices for generators have come down and are within reach for the everyday consumer. You can get cheap personal ones online for under a hundred bucks and after a few hurricanes under my belt I’ve realized it is a must have. When you see the high rises that still have power while the rest of us tear each other apart for a piece of charcoal, you will never again question getting a generator. Just be careful using one cause you can die if you don’t read the instructions.
I’m an advocate of camping stoves, charcoal or gas. I find myself more in comfortable with charcoal as you can see how much you have. I know gas has gauges but there something about propane gas that feels like it is easily wasted. It goes fast so be frugal. It worse case scenarios you might have to resort to using coal and gas as a fire starter and not necessary as the cooking device. You may think it’s crazy but when your roof is literally on the floor sometimes all you can do is use it as firewood.
Get everything. If you see it and want it, get it. Don’t think twice. Don’t worry about the old lady. That little kid? Sorry little buddy, This lion has to eat. I’ll eat you if push comes to shove. You never know. I’ve seen the Day After Tomorrow. I’ve seen Alive. The early bird catches the completely stocked aisles. Also don’t hesitate to do late night runs although beware if you run into a packed Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. You may not like what you see.
Water is going to be the #1 priority food item. Wherever you see water, get it. Water is right behind fuel during a hurricane apocalypse. People will lie, steal, cheat, kill for water. They will set shit on fire so that the water they need you have to use to put the fire out. Do not underestimate the value of water and do not ever say “Oh there’s plenty of water.” No. There isn’t. We live IN MIAMI and are surrounded by water and it’s not enough. Fill anything you have with water. Bathtubs, tupperware, garbage bags whatever. Not only will water be used as a food source but to clean utensils and whatever you need to as well as to bathe. The shower water could be contaminated from backed up systems and instead of water you get sewage. Not cool.
Water is also going to used to help keep your perishables from perishing. By filling and freezing ziplock bags and bottles of water, it will help keep the fridge cold depending on how much you open it. Much of riding a hurricane is not only resisting eating your supplies before the storm gets there but also not being tempted to open the fridge unless you really need to after the storm passes. They say to get non perishables but we can’t go weeks on a few crackers and a can of soup. As a beginner you will be tempted to feast on a Thanksgiving day of sorts as the storm makes landfall but upon resistance I have found your meats and frozen items can remain cold in a fridge for up to 5 days if you never open the fridge and fill it with ice bags. It’s important to have coolers that will keeps drinks and other items cold that you can take out of the fridge and freezer to make to space for ice and other essentials like medicine. Ice packs are great to help keep things cold and are a cheap reusable alternative.
BBQ everything. It’s one of the few things about hurricanes that is pretty cool. Since you have a fridge stocked with stuff that will go bad you have to cook it and it eat. Neighborhoods spill out into the street after the storm and everyone brings out their grills, portable lights and leisure equipment (see below). For the few days right after the storm leaves there is sadness that there is no power but a good community comes together and makes the best of it, which is why it pays to have an open line of communication with those who live around you.
For many hurricane veterans the luxury of the internet wasn’t available to us for many storms and even door to door services are something new for people. You would think there’d be less shoppers since people are ordering online, instead the shoppers have been replaced with people shopping for others and themselves. Amenity sites like Amazon Fresh and Instacart that make shopping easy on a normal day can be a life saver with a hurricane barreling down. A word of caution: Ordering food online becomes a race not only against time but also against the millions of other people going for the same products that are in limited supply. Not to mention if you order too late you may not be able to get you items cause deliveries are suspended due to weather. I recommend a balance when it comes to food products by buying both online if you can and also making a trip for the few perishables you decide to get.
Everything else you can get at anytime and even use during your daily life. That what makes getting a headstart so key. Unlike consumables, hurricane materials are often reusable and in many instances are items that you will use for future hurricanes. If you can afford it buy a nice weatherproof grill buy one, or at least get one that suits not only your budget but also accommodates your space. You’re not gonna buy a huge bbq pit for your apt balcony. Or maybe you are, who cares, do whatever you want.
Things like generators, rechargeable flashlights and lanterns, and solar powered chargers are just a few of the new tech advancements that make going through hurricanes more tolerable. Take advantage. Don’t ever let your husband or wife question your emergency prepardness purchase. They be thanking you later why your have to splint their broken leg. Every household should have a generator (see sidebar) & med kit and every member of the family their own power pack and solar charger. That will ease arguments and save trips to the car to recharge your phone. There are also portable AC units that can make the hot days that follow easier but they use up precious ice and water so be weary of going overboard.
Communication is another thing that becomes crippled during a strong hurricane so investing in walkie talkies are good for family in case you get separated. Satellite phones are also a lot cheaper now a days and maybe good to have in the car that you’ve designated the “Get the hell out of Dodge”.
Another essential is a beautiful creation known as duck tape. Duck tape will not only come in handy to patch up leaks and hold things in place but you can also use them to tape pretty much anything together. And I don’t care what the so called experts say if you don’t have shutters and you don’t have plywood to cover your windows just duck tape the crap out of it and give it a santero blessing with thoughts and prayers. A word of caution: duck tape is permanent. Not because you can’t take it off but because you won’t. Resorting to duck tape or worse masking tape for a hurricane forever curses your windows and for no reason you will leave the tape on your windows until the end of time. Don’t @ me.
In order to pass the time and maintain your sanity you’ll want to have an array of distractions to pass the time both during the hurricane and afterward if your power goes out. As previously mentioned the tech of this time allows us more options and if you’re gonna rough it out you might as well take full advantage. Charge up all your devices and laptops and invest in rechargeable backups for each device. Load up on board games and physical games cause there will be a moment when everything runs out if power isn’t restored past 3 days. Or better yet you could invest in these amazing things called books.
Clip your toenails– Seriously if the lights go out your dont want to jam a naked toe against whatever the hell that was.
Clean up your area and your fridge– I know you hate cleaning but it is vital that your space be clean and clear. Not only do you want important things elevated in case of flooding but you don’t ant to have to move stuff out of the way when the roof of your house if eventually torn off and the hurricane reaches in to steal your soul. You’ll also want to clean out your fridge. Get rid of all those old meals sitting in tupperware containers for months and that cheese you keep on saying only gets better with age. If the power goes for longer than 2 days that stuff will become self aware and try and eat you.
Give everyone a flashlight– Trust me on this just give everyone their own flash light and a back up batteries. Treat it like a zombie apocalypse. Everyone gets a gun and clip.
Trade your candles for LEDs– though you still might want to keep some candles as backups I highly recommend switching to LED lights that now double as candles. Power and battery life is usually very prolonged and the brightness is enough to light up a room. Plus they are cheap and can remove the fear of forgetting about the open flame which will happen.
Dont open your fridge unless you have to– You can keep your fridge item relatively cold if you fill it up before the storm with ice and frozen water bottles. The fridge acts like a giant cooler and can keep food cold for at least three days if you only open it for essentials. Move drinks and non meats, and dairy to coolers filled with ice.
Discover board games– That’s why they call them BORED games.
Have Weather Channel on a loop– It really raises the pressure and then when the power goes out- straight up horror movie. It’s fun!
Invest in a portable AC and Ice Maker– generators are a necessity but ice becomes gold in the days afterward since there is usually hot temps and no wind as the hurricane as just crapped all over you. You can supplement AC for your car but that will run the gas low and you don’t want to run on E searching for gas when there’s nothing open.
Don’t open the window– If you are in the storms strongest area and it is coming down do not open any doors or windows once they’ve been closed. Not only do you run the risk of getting hit by debris but also opening the door is like opening the door to a plane. Your house becomes pressurized from the storm and the sudden rush of wind tends to blow the roof right off.
In closing, get out of here if you’re not familiar with hurricanes and hunker down if you’re native to the process. Good pre-prep and staying informed will make the process as smooth as possible and remind yourself that even savage man didn’t have an Iphone. He had an eyeball that he ate. Cause he pulled out of the carcass of a dead animal he scavenged. Like a vulture. And he had to because his whole village wiped out in flash flooding from a Category 4 hurricane that hit out of nowhere cause he didn’t have Channel 7 Weather Team to hold his hand through the process.
So be safe and aware and check on those around you, and enjoy being blown away to smithereens!
Sidebar: Jokes aside the Bahamas are getting pummeled by Hurricane Dorian and the devastation is as bad as you can imagine. I started writing this article when Miami first appeared in the cone and I lazily took all weekend to write it thinking that the hurricane would hit us. Instead the Bahamas took a bullet like Clint Eastwood in that Secret Service movie and we gotta now have their back. Donate to reputable organizations and do your research before handing out money and taking/giving supplies. That said it is my personal belief that everyone in FL who lives in a home or apt or trailer or camper whether own or rent should have access to a government issued generator free of charge. Take the money from the military that is being lost or tax marijuana. There is a way to do it. Florida is constantly and will always be impacted by hurricanes, and a generator is like a trash can. Every house, every apartment, every dwelling, should get a small personal generator, access to standard family size or can apply for a grant or tax refund for larger commercial generators. Call it what you want it is common sense and is long over due. Install underground generators for every apartment complex. Move toward a city wide plan to bury power lines and become a hurricane reinforced city of the future that can withstand Cat 5+ storms cause that is what our future holds for us. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t have inside knowledge on how far ahead Miami is looking on this matter but as a 30 year resident things look the same. I do know/hope people are working on it but I don’t think they just don’t have/are getting enough help.