As Alfred E. Neuman say’s, “What? Me worry?” I live in North Central Florida, so usually by the time a hurricane reaches us, it’s dwindled in strength. Having read Mr. Rawl’s blog for many years, I do prepare. Oddly, this time around, employers let most of the employees leave work Friday, even though the event wasn’t expected until sometime on Saturday. It ended up being later. Guess hurricanes work on their own schedule.
Friday, I went to Walmart to do some last minute stock ups. Tarps were gone. Water was gone. Camp stoves were gone. Batteries were still in stock, but the bread and milk aisles were gone, and tape (for windows) was mostly gone.
People were moving north. Gas stations were doing a brisk business. By Saturday there was an element of fear among travelers you could almost taste. Businesses were mostly closed.
Sunday night/Monday morning Irma rocked into town. It was no stealth operation. Somewhere around 11AM Saturday, it got so bad that emergency personnel were pulled off the road and told to hunker down and wait.
Monday morning everyone just took stock of the destruction. Not much was moving. Mostly people were in a mild form of shock.
Here are my personal lessons learned.
- At least with my cooler, only expect about 2.5 days of coolness. If you have lifesaving meds, you need another plan.
- Chainsaws – when trees break in wacky ways and you don’t do tree work enough, you have to have a rescue chainsaw  for when yours gets bound up.
- We have a big 55 gallon plastic drum , which is also a water catcher on the corner of the house. It’s used to water plants but also emergency flush water as we are on an electric powered well.
- Without running water, don’t ever underestimate the amount of time you’re going to be carrying and moving water. Don’t underestimate the amount of water you will need.
- While I had plenty of snack type food to carry us through for a couple of days, without the power and no camp stove  that gets old. Even if you do cook, in bad weather clean up becomes an issue. So at least pack a week’s worth of MREs . No cooking is needed, and you just throw the remains in a plastic bag.
- Power and Internet (phone and wired) will be the first to go. When you are used to duckduckgoing for answers to “how long will milk be good, if left on the counter?”, a battery powered radio is a poor substitute.
- Don’t forget to fill up on gas, diesel. Not only will travelers be buying it up, but so will your neighbors in bulk to run their generators.
- Have a battery pack  or solar charger  for your cell phone. It will probably be the only link of communication you have, and what might normally take a week to discharge will be gone in a day if it’s got to push enough juice to make it to the next cell tower, cause your closest is laying on the ground.
- I live near county road 301, which connects interstate 75 and 95. When those two interstates got backed up, officials thought a good ideal would be to divert people to 301. Gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants along this route are setup to handle locals and a few passersby, not the golden horde. The result was resources needed for the local community were picked clean by out of towners. So, recognize that at any time your area can be filled with people and the limited resources available locally can be picked clean in hours.
- Last thought– you’re from the big city and you’re blowing through some local Hicksville. Don’t get ugly with natives. That can only end poorly for you.