I hate this time of year! It’s hurricane season for those of us who live in Hurricane Alley, right on the bulls-eye. Unlike the folks on the central Gulf Coast, who watch the southern horizon, we continually glance toward the eastern horizon. Two things of note come to us from the east: gorgeous sunrises… and devastating killer storms. We prefer the former, but, unfortunately, we get the latter, far too often, here in the geographic location known as the "Catcher's Mitt" of the East Coast.
Hurricanes are a fact of life here in the coastal Carolinas. There is no escaping that fact. So… those of us who choose to make our homes here have to adapt to Mother Nature’s aggressive ways.
By July, every year, without fail, I begin checking my hurricane supplies.
Some years ago, I built what my family refers to as my “hurricane chest”. In that chest, I store such necessary items as: a camp stove with a number of propane gas cylinders, battery powered lanterns, battery powered radios with the National Weather Service’s radio frequencies, candles, knives, coffee pot (for brewing coffee the old fashioned way… on the camp stove), and other things like important instructions on how to purify contaminated water with common household chemicals, and, of course, all shapes and sizes and strength batteries. And a lot of other items I think I might need. What goes in the chest is determined by me… based on well over 40 years of experience surviving these brutal terrorists of nature.
I always check the hurricane chest first to see that everything is where it should be and to decide what, if anything, needs to be updated or replenished.
Next, I check to see that my oil lamps have plenty of fuel and that the wicks are trimmed and in good shape and replace those that are not. Then, I have to check out the five gallon “jerry” cans which will store clean tap water for drinking and what little cooking we will do for the several days we will be without electricity.
Then, I check out my ice chest. An ice chest is a must… two or more are even better. Next, it is time to make a list of foodstuffs we’ll need to get through about a week of a totally useless kitchen. The trick is to purchase canned food that will not spoil and can be eaten throughout the remainder of the year… should we be lucky enough not to need it.
One thing it is vitally important to check on is… the state of our prescription medications. Do we need refills? If so, get them without delay. Everything comes to a stand still when the power goes out, even pharmacies.
Now it is time to check out the battery powered TV, police band radios, handheld flashlights, including the wind-up emergency lights. We have to be sure the cell phones are fully charged and the auto-chargers are where they are supposed to be… and that they function.
Then it is time to move out of the house into the yard. All yard, patio and deck furniture must be secured, tired down, stored, and/or placed out of the wind. Swings hanging from chains must be taken down and stored. Those giant garbage containers on wheels must also be secured and moved to place out of the wind.
Some folks board up their windows and glass storm doors. Most of us just tape them up to control the shattering and lessen the chance of their becoming a lethal wind-borne projectile.
And then we come to the rolling stock… the cars and trucks. We have to top off the gas tanks of the vehicles… just in case we have to make a run for it. Gas pumps don’t work without electricity.
If you have a portable generator then you must be sure you have ample fuel to last at least a week.
Finally, we check out our first aid supplies.
So, now we can stand back, take a breather, and run through all this stuff again, in our minds, to see what we have forgotten, because there is always something.
Please note: The list of “to-do things”, above, changes with every home. For instance, if you have a boat, or boats, you must get them out of the water and into safe storage.
If we have planned correctly, and if we have taken all the precautions we can and equipped ourselves as best we can, then all we can do now is hunker down and wait it out.
There is only so much we can do. After that… we are completely at the mercy of Mother Nature.
As I write, there are three storms approaching the eastern coast of the US. Hanna is first in line, and due to hit somewhere in our vicinity within 24 hours, or less. Then right behind her is a powerful storm named IKE, already a CAT-4 storm, and the tiny Josephine follows IKE. And we are just reaching the peak of the hurricane season.
These storms are so unpredictable that one dares not take them casually. So, we don’t. We plan for the worst and hope for the best.
So, over the next few days, I expect to be publishing less, as the computer requires electricity. When the power comes back… so will I.