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58 Comments

  1. Thanks! A very good read. Our retired friends (two sets) moved down to Bonita Springs, FL. One set had their clay tile roof forcibly removed by Irma, while the other set, two blocks away, just had a window dinged out. Go figure.

    Mold and mildew everywhere and not a contractor to be found at any price.

    1. RE: Female Roadside Urination: search for: Travelmate; Fusionella; Freelax; PaperPee; GoGirl; Freshette; P-EZ. Or, generically, “Female Urination Device.”
      Test several to see what works best for you, then buy several extra. Vinegar works as a cleaning solution. Pro Tip: Buy a couple different ones for the emergency kit even if you’re not female, you might know someone who is. Have spares, more spares than you think you’ll need (which also applies to everything else). Emergency lack-of-preparation solution: 4X6 note card, fold down the center, overlap corners on one end, secure with tape. FYI, look for longer zippers on (loose fitting) shorts, trousers, and use of these devices is made easier by Going Commando. Pro Tip: Practice usage of any solution in controlled environment well before implementing under severe conditions (see below), mentally prepare for potential modesty compromises.

      If you live in Hurricane Country there are two seasons: Hurricane Season, and not-Hurricane Season. Use one to prepare AND TEST SOLUTIONS for the other. During “not-hurricane season” devise solutions and action plans, test the solutions and action plans, evaluate results, Checklists, checklists, checklists; you will get Suddenly Stupid in an emergency.

      1. I don’t mean to be dense but I don’t see the problem. My wife and I go on long hikes in the wilderness and she can pee or crap in the woods without any ‘devices’ and surprisingly she can do it as fast as I do. Just drop trou, squat and let it rip. Make sure your pants are out of the way.

        1. I got the device because I got tired of having pee go the wrong way and end up in my shoes. I like the device because I don’t have to squat and bare my bottom when I pee.

        2. Girls can write in the snow just as well as guys can. Forget false modesty,when you have to go you have to go(3 sisters 1 bathroom/no privacy/beware the flush). Bread isn’t good for you in the first place,hard cheese freezes pretty well. Hard dry salami,cheese,crackers,olives and pickles(Mediterranean diet) can carry you indefinitely without refrigeration.

    1. If you are using the GPS feature of your phone, then it may not work due to it needing to download the local maps from the cell network, which may not be working. I think that may be what she is talking about.

      1. The only GPS that may be working is the GPS that is part of the car or an independent, hand held GPS device. Think Garmin or Magellan. You just can’t depend on the cell network. Besides not all cell phones have GPS.

        1. Before leaving uk for our holiday in Florida we downloaded an app called navmii and downloaded a map of Florida with it and it doesn’t need an Internet connection once you’ve got it though your phone or tablet will need gps of course

    1. That kind of leaves out about half the country. The entire gulf coast, the entire east coast, plus inland Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, etc. They all get nailed sometime by a hurricane directly or as the storm winds down.

      There is no real good solution, the weather is the weather. It’s just another obstacle or another opportunity.

      Just be prepared. Shore up-sturdy up your house and outbuildings. Clean up a fall zone around your buildings for towers, trees, etc.

      Maybe it’s time to put the grid underground instead of overhead. Think Puerto Rico, or for that matter, Florida and Texas. But that is a job for the power companies, not the government and hence the tax payers.

    2. I live in Ohio. We, and most of the rest of southwest Ohio, southeast Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, etc lost power in 2008 due to high winds from hurricane Ike. I had no power for 7 full days. Thankfully the temps moderated after the storm & we could keep the windows open for the week. Getting out of Hurricane Country isn’t always the answer.

    3. Utter twaddle, then you will tell people to move out of Tornado Alley. Well those two weather patterns are half the country.

      Agreed with another, the weather is the weather. I’ve been through five Cat3s and two Cat4s. After I moved, an EF-5 destroyed my son’s high school in 2011. Just get ready, try your setups and fill the gaps.

  2. Toilet issue suggestion – A she-wee or like device is a specially shaped plastic funnel that a woman can stick into the front of her pants so she can pee standing up without having to pull her pants all the way down. Very inexpensive. Throw it in the glove box or trunk and forget it till you need it. Sounds quite ridiculous but I know several women who love them during hunting season when it is 20 degrees outside!

    1. Ditto what sam spade said. My wife and daughter pack a “Go Girl” when we go camping/hiking. They find it quite comical and actually look forward to it (though writing your name is more challenging than for men).

  3. This is one of the best articles I have read on hurricanes. Having been through many on the Gulf Coast of Texas since 1961 (Carla), every thing she writes rings true to me.

    Tex

  4. Great article.

    Even a little further north, we witnessed most people losing their brains because of the hurricane. People drove wildly, did stupid things, etc. days before and days after the hurricane. We lost commercial power for close to a week, but our solar system kept us in power good. Never heard more generators running in my life. We loaned out a couple to family but didn’t need to run ours.

  5. GPS relies on cell phones to work???
    Cell phones worked after Hurricane Andrew in the Kendall area of South Dade County.
    I will never evacuate. The gestapo will not let you go back to check on your house.
    If I open a window my roof will blow off. So opening my front door to peek out during the last 6 hurricanes was different? How?
    There was more. I stopped reading this post.
    Florida native.

    1. There is a difference between briefly opening a door to look outside and simply leaving a window open, unattended, and possibly forgotten. I think that was the author’s intended meaning…

      As to NEVER evacuating: I see were you’re coming from but I don’t think it’s well-considered (at least as stated). Property is replaceable but your life and those of your loved ones are not.

      An inflexible policy to always stay put ignores the responsibility to evaluate threat conditions specific to our unique situations everywhere.

      Lots of folks stay for their stuff and wish they had left for their lives in hindsight.

  6. People need to re-evaluate the importance of flood insurance. My sister lived in a beautiful home in Dade city in central Florida. they evacuated. I talked to her the day after the storm and said the house was fine with trees down and a little water in the yard. Then the river that is a half mile away began rising. It eventually rose 17.5 feet. Most Florida natives are flatlanders and are not used to rivers rising. She ended up with two feet of sewage-laden water in her home. The stench is awful. They have no flood insurance.they were not in a flood zone. I read 80% of the citizens of Houston did not have flood insurance either. they do not plan to rebuild and will take a huge loss. many others in their town are suffering the same fate.
    I feel blessed. I had my cans of LDS food and water and water filter and propane and carbine and solar lights and DC powered fan and first aid supplies. I was ready. But I was also two stories up and sheltered from the wind.
    By the way, I have found the best site for wind strength and direction of storms is windy.com.
    if you know what direction the wind will be coming from you can make better choices in surviving.

  7. A bread maker will use 100 watts for about 30 minutes for its mix cycle then 800 watts cycled on/off for a total of 30 minutes of “on” time. I once prepared a loaf using a car battery and an 1000 watt inverter as an exiperment. I figure I could bake 3 or 4 loafs with a fully charged battery before having to start the car to recharge the battery.

  8. Instead of all the hassle of a bread maker, a quick and easy alternative is a Complete Pancake Mix. All you need is a pan, firewood, oil and water for the mix. A nice, thick pancake is very similar to a piece of bread. Fry up two of them and you have the equivalent of two pieces of bread. Add peanut butter and jelly and voila! Keep your kids (and yourself) happy and fed.

    1. hoecakes. like a fried pancake, but not sweet.

      the beautiful thing is that you can make it with all dry ingredients (using powdered egg and powder buttermilk). pre-packaged in mylar in convenient two-serving amounts. Just add water, and fry in oil.

  9. Female roadside bathroom hack?

    Rain poncho – Good for #1 or #2. Procedure: Don poncho, drop trou, #1, raise trou, continue the mission.

    #2? Same but bring tissue, dig small cat hole with heel of their boot (in soft sand) or e-tool (in harder soil), continue the mission.

    I got this info courtesy of Army female soldiers recounting their roadside experiences driving convoy ops.

  10. Texting after a disaster MAY still work due to the lower network requirements. After Katrina I was able to send and receive texts (some with great delays) until the system was shut down by the local cell providers. I was told that emergency services also use the same system and that they needed it to coordinate emergency responses. Now a HAM operator for that reason.

    1. A phone call needs a continuous two-way connection (Internet over phone, too). A text message needs only a few milliseconds of a connection to send, or be received. A text will sit in a buffer, for days if need be, waiting for that window to open.

  11. I found this post to be very useful even though I live over 1500 miles from hurricane country. Much of the advice will be good in other kinds of emergencies also. Thank you.

  12. I disagree with the conclusion that gasoline is the most important item for survival. I survived Katrina and can tell you water is by far the most important item you can store and the second is electrolyte replenishment. Day we returned to our flooded house was hot and humid and worked hard and long, I sweat a lot and drank well over a gallon of water during that period. I had cramps so bad that night I could not have squeezed off a round in self defense if needed. Thankfully the local sheriff had established excellent control and that was unnecessary.

    You can survive and be some what effective three days without or severely limited water and a couple of weeks without food but why not prepare by having all required items on hand.

    Three weeks minimum of drinking water stored
    I fill 120 gal of tap water in tub bladders before the hurricane arrive
    Have water filters stored
    I have damage control plugs to insert in soil lines to prevent sewage back ups.
    Lanterns and 5 gal of lantern oil, Headlamp, flashlights and batteries
    A minimum of 4 months of long storage food plus a couple of weeks of normal food
    I store enough gasoline to drive both vehicles 600 miles without the need of a gas station. If I stay that would rum my gasoline generators a couple weeks.
    Just installed a whole house NG generator.
    Huge supply of medical supplies.
    Tools to handle most repair, traps, nails screws etc.

    There is much more including being a vey well two person army if needed and if have moved out of the flood zone since. Katrina turned me in to a pepper.

    1. Living in FL, for Cramps, I have found that a Magnesium supplement, 250mg, tablet, really helps. Every day in the summer time and a couple of times a week in the winter.

  13. Thanks for this article C.S. Having lived thru Andrew and Wilma I know what damage can be done and how uncomfortable it can get without power. One scary for me is I am living with half a balance system (brain tumor destroyed my balance and hearing nerves) so I need light to stay upright. I used headlamps and as the hurricane approached I became nauseous, had to lay down with headlamp shining in eyes. I believe it was the drop in pressure that wasn’t helpful. Going thru these powerful hurricanes I feel like a novice though as I lived 7 years on a sailboat so what people are doing now in the way of prepping for disaster, I was prepping for ocean sailing months on end, no water, heat, no fuel, weather, etc. It became a way of life for the cruising community. But during Irma our house was a refuge for my sister, her husband and my 92 year old mother who live in Naples as I live on the East Coast of Florida. Our winds topped high 80’s steady and the destruction was only plant and small tree debri. I must say I was very thankful for the 3″ debri ground cover left in my yard. I raked my garden paths clean, sweeping it into the numerous beds I have. Unfortunately our power went out way too early, in my estimation. We had only 20-25 knots blowing and we lost power. Hey FP&L what happened to the so-called $$ spent on ‘hardening the grid’?! We prepared though for no fridge, had a few coolers. We packed the coolers night before and the freezer drawers (no shelves in a Liebherr) with ice in double-bagged gallon sizes a few days before hurricane hit. We stuffed them in every nook and cranny we could find. We were w/o power for 4 days and when it came back on we opened the freezer and the temp read 27 degrees. All food rock solid still. I too didn’t sleep at night due to open windows, heat index in the house was 89 degrees AT NIGHT! I’m gonna employ the window/slider unit of powerless air. Empty plastic one-liter water bottles in holes drilled into plywood. The bottoms of the bottles cut off and the air passes thru large opening facing outside and forcing air thru smaller neck opening facing the room. The bottle necks are secured with the caps by cutting off the top part, and screwing it back onto the bottle neck, holding the bottles in place. I’ll let you know how this works. Otherwise placing frozen vegetable bags onto femoral arteries near crotch helps to cool the blood circulating. The bread thing is easy if you learn to make chapatis (large flatbread) cooked in fry pan on one burner unit or your grill. The one thing I saw a need for is a hand cranked coffee bean mill and any recommendations on this product would be greatly appreciated; although, I ground coffee up days before for the just incase. My lack of sleep was out of fear I or my husband (both hearing impaired) wouldn’t hear an intruder at night. That had me waking on and off and sleeping fitfully. I want a dog hubby! The fridge food was easy to take care of. I made a large butter bell and stored the softening butter in it. It’s simply a container filled with soft butter, salted for preservation, which is inverted into large container that has water then sealed with a lid. It does a great job in keeping butter out of the oxygen keeping it spreadably firm. The cheeses were wrapped in cloth dipped in vinegar to cut down on the mold growth. Eggs went into coolers but if there wasn’t room for them I would’ve pasted each egg with vaseline, put them back into their containers and flipping carton over everyday to keep the fluids coating the inside of the porous shell. I would then employ the small bowl for cracking eggs into one at a time each time an egg was used checking for spoilage. Most condiments in fridge do not have to be refrigerated due to vinegar content. We don’t refrigerate our mayo, never have in all my years and I, my husband and children are still here! We just don’t put any metal into the plastic jars, only wood or rubber. I am going invest in dried fruits and vegetables though adding it to my hurricane supplies I have built up over the years living here. Great article and glad you wrote about your experiences.

  14. Thanks for taking the time to write this. The experiences of other people is so great; they have really “seen the beast” and their advice is always invaluable.

  15. Fuel. Whether we are staying put or bugging out, trust me, no matter what we think, most of us do not have enough fuel. I live in a very rural area of north Florida with just one red light in the whole county, it is not what one would imagine as a vacation destination spot. We have one east/west and one north/south routes. One of the things that the author may have underestimated was that when you are evacuating you will not be the only one with a GPS or, much rarer, an Atlas who will figure out to get off of the main roads or to travel at night. Our one north/south two lane road was heavily traveled both day and night going north during the evacuation and then southbound when they returned. Whenever the rare fuel tanker showed up from Friday to the following Thursday it was immediately covered up like someone had kicked over a fire ant nest by those who were traveling with lines stretching down the side of the road for quite a ways, this was also true for any grocery or dollar store. One cashier told me that they were pumping 1,000 gallons/hour. A US gallon of gas weighs approx 6.2 lbs/gal and the average tanker hauls about 45,000 lbs. At that rate even if they got the whole tank, which was unlikely, they’d run out again in a little over 7 hours. While my house had plenty this time the lesson learned was that I need to amend my preps to take into consideration the fact that an evacuation is like a swarm of locusts, they will strip everything as they pass through. The effect was that a lot of local people who had thought they only needed to prepare for a few days faced shortages even though enough fuel and goods would have been available had there not been all those passing through. Don’t misunderstand me, this wasn’t callousness on the evacuees part. They simply had a need and did what they had to do to meet it. On a positive note this has allowed me the opportunity to preach about preparedness to people who now have a a more open mind on the subject. As for myself I realize that I need to develop alternate energy sources or increase my fuel storage capacity in the event of a larger, long term crisis. It’s one thing to intellectually speculate on the effect of the Golden Horde and quite another to experience it, albeit on a much smaller scale, firsthand.

  16. If you ever cared for an elderly, disabled, or injured person, drop, squat, and let it rip ain’t going to work! Many struggle to get from seated to vertical, trying to squat is a one way trip to the ground!

    It all depends on who your traveling with! Our last evacuation included two people in their eighties and a gal within two weeks of bingo! We left way early and traveled fast, after the news reports they mostly forgave me!

    I had no intention of burying an aunt or delivering my grandson on the side of the road!

    A folding bedside commode is now in the pile of might be needed. You may be young and healthy now, but that can change in an instant and the clock is always ticking!

    Great article and thank you! Swamp

  17. Thought. Some of those big box stores–Costco, etc. have connecting gas service for members. Might they provide quicker access to fuel during times like indicated in these hurricanes?

  18. RE: COFFEE GRINDER — We use a small one by Zassenhaus
    https://www.amazon.com/Zassenhaus-Santiago-Mahogany-Manual-Coffee/dp/B0013SO1E4/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1506906356&sr=8-6&keywords=zassenhaus+coffee+grinder

    They make several styles and there is one model for about $40. Supposedly the best form of grinding is with “conical burr” grinders. We are very happy with this one as you can adjust the grind from coarse (as for boiling or french press, fine for drip, or extra fine for espresso. This size we use grinds enough in one drawer for 6-8 cups. This narrow style is called a “knee grinder” as it is meant to be held between the knees while grinding. A table top one would be more of the larger square stye.

  19. Taking about maps. You can download Google maps to your phone and store them for 30 days. We did this when we went to Italy. They are fully functional maps too offline. Just go to Google maps and find the location you want and download it. You can download a few areas if needed.

  20. Thanks for the great article.
    My Hurricane Andrew experience taught me the critical importance of a chainsaw with bar oil, fresh gas, mixing oil and support tools. For emergency use, I’ve learned to buy the commercially prepared fuel cans that are premixed and sealed/stabilized for long term storage. This stuff is great and makes traveling with a chainsaw a lot more convenient.

  21. Another thought for the bread is to make bannock. Many recipes on the net and it can be cooked flat, as a loaf or even just wrapped around a stick and held in a fire. I made it through in N Fl okay. Only damage was a scratch on a horse and a 3×3 inch piece of shingle from the roof. Still have not found where on roof it came from. Horses and dogs without a horse trailer was why I stayed home. Of course by the time it got here a dry air mass had come in and ripped the storm to shreds. Even if I had a trailer, where I had planned to go would have been much worse as the storm changed direction as to what ALL the predictions said. Worked a long time with weather guessers in the Navy (I was not one) and the best piece of advise where they are concerned is: “Weather Guessers – the only job where you can be WRONG 365 days a year and Still get a bonus”.

  22. A port-a-potty or “Lug a Loo” works. Once you have done your business you can pour it out or toss cat litter into it until you can get to a place to clean it out.

  23. Just buy a Portable Urinal/Pee Bottle With Female Adapter and just go in the car. Make sure this is not the first time you use it. Just me sure it’s a large size, it can just be poured out of the door not great but better than nothing, They even make them in Glow in the Dark, I could not make that up.

  24. Hiding behind a car door is the time-honored method for peeing beside the road.
    My Mom did it, my sister did it, you can do it.
    The only improvement I can think of is if you have a 4-door car, you can open 2 doors to make a mini stall.

  25. As mentioned above vinegar would be good to store in large amounts if you live in Florida after a hurricane for cleaning, ie. mold, and to rinse out “Mollies”, female urinals with caps as used in hospitals. Baking soda is another multi-use essential item for brushing teeth amongst other uses.
    Honey has a long non-refrigerated shelve life.
    Sidenote: Minor cuts can easily develop into infections after a hurricance as groundwater is polluted by septic waste.
    Baking chocolate if there was a good way to keep it from melting in the floridian heat would complement coffee as a caffeine perk. And of course salt tablets for excessive sweating. Magnesium (as I remember someone mentioning it above) needs vitamin D2 to help it be absorbed. D2 is good for overall health as our bodies do not produce it. Twenty to forty minutes a day of sunshine provides enough vit D2 but then after a hurricance stocking up on sun tanning lotion would be a bigger concern. And garlic for mosquitoes and pests. You’ll have the vinegar and baking soda to clean the odor. Probiotics as in fermented food, dill pickles, would be helpful for the digestive system in the intestines.

    *Of course, none of this is medical advice, see a qualified physician for any advice.*

    Speaking of evacuees … now that Puerto Rico has been wrecked expect a wave(s) coming to Orlando or a city near you.

  26. I have lived on or near the Gulf Coast most of my life. We were always told the reason to put the masking tape “X”s on our windows was to keep more of the glass shards together if the window was broken out by flying debris. Even with safety glass more common now, shattered glass is shattered glass; keeping large portions of it together instead of spread out all over the room is less hazardous. We put on more tape than just an “X”, and, yes, cleaning it off later is tedious, but a good sharp razor blade-type scraper helps a lot.
    Women’s relief: if you have the room in your vehicle, take along a 5 gallon bucket, with the lid rimmed with a split-down-the-middle pool noodle for comfort, and some plastic trash can liners and cat litter (or wood shavings, or shredded paper) and then use the poncho with it (or a shower curtain or a light blanket) for coverage. Dump the filled liner in the nearest trash can. The elderly ladies with balance problems would much prefer this setup to squatting.
    For dealing with heat when there’s no power, I read that tacking up wet towels in the breeziest doorways or window openings can help cool a room, and you can use your grey water (that has been used just for hand-washing or sponge bathing)to wet them down. Also, sleep on the floor if you can tolerate the hardness; tile, concrete and other cool surface materials are the best, but even wood floors can be cooler than your bed.
    I also have an Ikea mosquito-net canopy on hand that I can hang from the ceiling grid and drape around the bed if I have to keep doors and windows open when there’s no power to run a/c.
    But the best thing is to get all your gear and important papers together and evac in plenty of time to avoid the crowds, especially if you have small children or elderly relatives to take care of. That way, you get your pick of available hotel rooms (if you’re not staying with family or friends), and you will be more likely to find gas and other necessities along the way.
    Sit down today and make a list of what you think you may need if you have to evac and cannot return to your home; gather those things together and keep them in a safe place where they will be easy to get to in an emergency of any kind. When a bad situation is imminent, it’s a heck of a lot harder to try and think of what you need because of the stress you will undoubtedly experience; having a thought-out-in-advance plan at the ready will lessen that stress, and you will be glad you took the time to make it beforehand.

  27. A inexpensive solution to the pee thing is a 5 gallon bucket and a pool noodle. The pool noodle can be slit to slip over the edge of the bucket and cut to size so that sitting is doable. I would think this would work better than squatting for people with knee issues or other physical problems. Emptying it and then a lid and some baking soda would help with odors between pit stops.

  28. “Think…Think Again..Then Act.”

    ALWAYS consider what will happen if this action does not go the way I see it going….What else is going to happen.

    Have a plan..have a back up plan..have a back up plan for the back up plan…plan to replace the plan.

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