Candles, Flashlights and Pink Floyd: Hurricane Preparedness For Novices

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Four days short of our one-year anniversary of retiring to Florida, we are getting to experience the first brush of what makes the residents here such hearty souls — a possible hurricane scare.

I say possible because no one actually knows what will happen.  Tropical Storm Erika has already been responsible for destructive flooding in Dominica with at least 12 dead and countless missing.  Erika thankfully appears to lack great, horrific strength, yet meteorologists are not exactly sure what will transpire after she leaves the Caribbean. She could “regroup,” as the forecasters seem to enjoy saying, and possibly strengthen into a hurricane as she gets back into open ocean waters.   Or she could remain battered and simply hit drought-stricken South Florida with a badly needed drenching.  To be on the safe side, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency.

All of this is definitely giving us a taste of what hurricane preparedness is all about.  Unlike the many years that I lived in the Washington, DC area, where an advancing storm is treated to an artful nod of the comforts for gourmet food and TV sofa snuggling, Floridians instead have only one thing in mind: unmitigated survival.  Eighty to ninety mph winds screaming through a neighborhood can totally ruin a good night’s sleep, not to mention all four walls and a roof.

Starting late yesterday evening, and continuing this morning after we watched the news reports, Gorgeous and I ventured out to make sure that we were storm-ready.  The first aisle we visited was the one containing bottled water.  I had purchased a two and a half-gallon container of drinking water the day before, but Gorgeous make it clear that we needed far more than that.  One day truly made a difference.  Where toilet paper is the first to disappear in DC area stores prior to a storm, the water aisle in our local Publix was the center of all activity.  Parched Californians would have sat in judgment watching the action that went on in that aisle today. I won’t reveal how much bottled water we have on hand, but let’s just say that it would probably get us arrested in Fresno or Los Angeles County.

The next items on our list were batteries and at least one more decent flash light.  I still have my wonderful Sony transistor radio from the 1980’s that manages to confuse my digital-savvy nephew each time he sees it.

Food items are challenging because you really don’t want to buy much that is perishable. So we followed the recommended guidelines and bought canned foods such as fruits and vegetables (including sardines, which I literally have not had since I was a kid), crackers, assorted nuts, trail mix, and what I personally think is an overabundance of potato and nacho chips.  In spite of the emphasis on nonperishable, I noticed that someone nonetheless couldn’t resist getting salsa for said chips.

Believing we were done, I had what I thought were equally pressing pre-storm errands as we left the grocery store.  I wanted to fill up the car with gas, and I also needed to get to the post office to mail a birthday card to my sister in California.  Her birthday isn’t until late next week, but I thought it best to mail it out today in case the post office has weather-related delays.

However, I soon learned that Gorgeous had only just begun to stock up our home.  She asked to be taken to Target, where she had an entirely new list that included, among other preparedness-related items, a second ice chest to have on hand.  My guess is that the ice chest represents an optimistic hope that any power shortage will be short in duration, and that ice will be available for cocktails.  Also purchased was coffee concentrate along with a box of those tiny containers of half-and-half that don’t need to be refrigerated. The caffeine need has apparently been addressed.

At one point while in Target Gorgeous excused herself and said that she’d be back in a few minutes.  When she returned, we picked up a few more items such as extra-large seal-lock bags (good for securing important documents) and a decent first aid kit.  It wasn’t until we were at the checkout line that I saw the item for which she needed some privacy: amidst all our storm-preparation items was… a silk screen Pink Floyd t-shirt.  I trust that she’ll be comfortably numb during this storm.

Assuming we have power, your humble blogger endeavors to be safe, dry, and hopefully writing a new post next week.  Optimism is a cherished attribute.  I also expect to gain a pound or two from an excessive carbohydrate intake.  To all my Florida blogging friends — and I’m looking at you Just Me Mike — be safe!

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16 thoughts on “Candles, Flashlights and Pink Floyd: Hurricane Preparedness For Novices

  1. Good luck with the storm, whatever it entails.

    And really, I used to scoff at that preparedness stuff. and then Irene hit us in 2003 or 2004. We had no power for 9 days– which in our house means no water (we have a well) and NO FLUSHING. Once we’d recovered, I bought two large plastic bins and filled them with canned goods and batteries. Those two bins have long since been buried in our basement. I’m counting on the next hurricane to uncover them itself.

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      1. It is terrible, really. We’ve only had a few extended time periods without water, but still. WE’RE WITHOUT WATER!!!!

        OK, I’ll calm down. Unless Erika comes our way — you know just how quickly they fix disasters in and around our nation’s capitol!

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  2. Preparedness is a good thing, and gives you some sense of calm, when awaiting the unknown. Even though I lived in Florida for a season or two, I never experienced “the hurricane season”. I’ll admit that I was guilty of scoffing at my sister, who lived in Florida for more than twenty years. I poked fun at her for having a pantry stocked with water and batteries and tins of protein-packed foods and dry goods. I made jokes about her being a Boy Scout. I jabbed at her, verbally poking away at her carefully-constructed “disaster preparedness kit”, which included safety items like medical supplies and spare packaged food for their pets.

    Then a big hurricane hit. She owned three homes, and all three of them were destroyed, taken down all the way to the foundation. She saw her neighbor decapitated by flying debris. She witnessed her dog being crushed to death by falling concrete, unable to get to him in time to help. She heard the screams of her neighbors, as they saw their homes disappear. Somehow, through all that, she and her family managed to survive, all piled in the bathtub, covered up with mattresses, with a heavy sideboard thrown on top to try to weigh everything down. They survived, and even managed to help several of their neighbors during those first few days after the storm, sharing everything they had, and rendering aid wherever possible. Her preparedness helped keep several people alive, until they were either able to dig their way out, or help arrived.

    Sometimes, the warnings and preparations seem almost silly, or unnecessary. But after that one event, I finally realized what she had known all along. It only takes one bad storm, and everything changes. Most of the time, the warnings and preparations are unwarranted. The storms don’t gather enough strength, or they do little more than drench the area, or high winds knock down a few things, but then life returns to normal. But being prepared? Well, that just makes good sense. Most of the time, no, it’s not needed. But it can’t hurt to be prepared.

    Hoping that Erika decides to dissipate, and pass through without too much of a fuss. Hoping that people are safe, and dry, and their homes remain undamaged. Most of the time, it turns out that way. Most of the time.

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  3. Thanks Marty. As I may have mentioned, my Mom lived in West Palm Beach – and while a hurricane did not directly kill her, nor did her home suffer any damage – the lack of electricity for two weeks, combined with no AC, no refrigeration, lack of cooked food, lack of hot water all weakened her.

    Because of what she went through I chose to live on the west side of the state in Sarasota.

    While being prepared can NEVER be over-emphasized, I did get a kick out of the purchase of the coffee pods, Unless you have a gas stove, how will you heat the water.

    The second ice chest was a particularly key purchase.

    Also a good book or two will come in handy..

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    1. We laughed about the coffee. At first she picked up instant coffee, thinking that would take care of not being able to use the electric coffee maker. But when I asked her how she’d heat it, she just frowned. 😉

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  4. Having riveted myself to Weather.com for the past couple of days, my current understanding is that Erika has messed herself up in the Caribbean and been reclassified as a thunderstorm, bringing four to five days of heavy rain (but nothing more) to southern Florida, possibly beginning tonight. My interest in Erika’s condition is something more than warm and sympathetic virtual feeling for Floridian fellow bloggers. I am scheduled to fly to Tampa on Tuesday for a near-week of family gemutlikheit, which a hurricane would have knocked off the calendar. As it is, I am pretty sure I will be flying the friendly, albeit wet, skies of United. I will think of you munching away on your carbohydrates, though; now that you’ve loaded up on all that stuff, how can you not eat it, even if the prospect of a power failure itself fails? (Double negative: plenty of power.) Enjoy!!! At least you weren’t advised to board up the windows. 🙂

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    1. It is no longer the Weather Channel of earlier days. Gone are the sobered meteorologists who gave informative, though admittedly boring, explanations. They’ve been replaced by impossibly young and sexy weather reporters who seem to make light of everything that’s happening in dramatic presentations. Ratings are important after all. I finally found a West Palm Beach TV station’s web site that featured an older, calmer weather guy who was more down to earth.

      Yes, I’m glad Erika was slowed by both mountains and wind shear. But it was all a good tune-up and “dress rehearsal” for our next one.

      I do hope your family gathering is a happy event. Travel safe and enjoy…

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  5. My level of preparedness has shifted back and forth from SUPER PREPARED like you are (during my years growing up in the Caribbean), to mildly prepared – – few bottles of water, candles/flashlight, and a just using what’s in the FRIDGE (living mostly inland in the US with hardly any incident of Hurricane), to NOT TAKING ANY CHANCES – – stocking up to the max after Katrina and Sandy hit a few years ago.

    Things are certainly changing weather-wise all over the world. Gone are the days when climate changes were moderate /normal. The extremes and resulting havoc are confusing and cause for great concern, yet there’s not much we can do but adapt and survive as best we can.

    Here’s wishing you and your fellow Floridians safe passage through the proverbial ‘storm’.

    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

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