Posts tagged: hurricane

Hurricane Preparation Tips So Your Humble Abode Won’t Blow Away: From Acknowledged Hurricane Experts


*2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019  2020 2021 2022 2023 “Here We Go Again” Edition*

major dad and I are veterans of major Hurricanes Bertha, Fran, Ivan and Dennis. (along with others like Hurricane Sally on Ivan’s 16th anniversary in 2020). When Irene and Super Storm Sandy visited Brother Bingley, I thought I would offer up what’s worked for us in terms of preparation, both food-wise, house-wise PLUS some of the things folks don’t know about, that help make life bearable if those winds look to head your way. I always hope you’ll find or learn something you didn’t know before.

Hurricane Ivan September 15, 2004

First up is the heavy lifting.

1: Shopping list suggestions for tonight/assoonasyoufreakincan is up underneath the board pictures.

2: “WHAT TO DO TO GET INSIDE READY” is posted at the bottom of it all 

Make lists. Don’t trust yourself to remember everything you need and/or want to do. Write it all down. I do, every time.

I hope the ‘all in one place’ format will prove helpful and PLEASE don’t hesitate to comment (And please feel free to visit our previous posts afterward for those EXCELLENT COMMENTS.)

Full disclosure. For Bertha and Fran in NC (Cat 2 and 3, 56 days apart in ’96), we only lived 10 miles inland, were on the eastern side of the storm both times (translation: got beat all to hell), never boarded up and did just fine. The most important thing we did, and have always done, is CLEAR THE AREA OF POTENTIAL FLYING OBJECTS. Anything and everything in our yard AND the neighborhood that could be turned into a missile (including that 100lb garden pot you don’t think can fly…it can), goes into the garage. Bertha came in during the daytime and, along around noon, we got to watch the neighbor’s metal shed explode and fly through our backyard at about 110 mph. That was the only thing we couldn’t control that day that went walkabout, and it would have killed someone if the wind hadn’t been parallel to the long side of the house.

BOARDING UP: In 2005, right after Rita went overhead on her way to Louisiana, we upgraded to aluminum shutters all around. If you want to board up, this is how we did it in Pensacola for Hurricane Ivan, and thank GOD we did.

NOTE: There are terrific Plylox Hurricane Clips available, which will save you step #2, if you can find them. Be prepared ~ they can be the dickens to get them on the house, but they’re simple to attach to the plywood and work great*. They were all sold out when we hit Lowe’s, pre-Ivan, so we made due.

Be prepared ~ NONE of this is cheap. BUT. The peace of mind is ENORMOUS. Plus, you’re so pooped from the effort, not to mention standing in line for supplies, that you sleep soundly. Measure and KNOW WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GET THERE. Be ready to make quick adjustments for what’s left on the shelves. You have to be nimble.

1) Don’t screw with anything less than 1/2 inch plywood, REAL plywood. (That’s assuming there’s any left when you get to Home Depot. We used 3/4″.) Cut to fit flush INSIDE the window frame. (We used two pieces here. Shaved the edge off a 5′ by 8′ full sheet and then a smaller piece to cover completely to the top of the window, hence, if you squint, you’ll notice a seam in the plywood about 3/4 of the way up.)

2) What’s going to hold those boards in place are 1 x 4’s on either side, snugged up tight against the plywood, cut to the height of the window, drilled into the bricks from the side and anchored in the masonry with hex top TapCon screws. I think we had a max of 5 screws per side. We had NO SCREWS in the window frame itself.

* Handy Tip: The Squid Terrorist -our infamous, ex-bo’s’n’s mate next-door neighbor – actually drilled through his Plylox clips and screwed them to the plywood sheets before attempting to pop them into the windows. Saves a ton of frustration.


2023 Update: EVs, people – and anything lithium battery powered. They have to be considered now in the event of storm surge inundation or flash flood potential. From Florida’s Jimmy Patronis:

Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is reminding owners of Electric Vehicles (EVs), and other lithium ion powered devices, to relocate their devices away from areas that may be impacted by storm surge.

CFO Patronis said, “We saw a number of fires associated with EVs from Hurricane Ian. We know that the saltwater from storm surge can compromise these batteries, causing fires which cannot be easily suppressed. The best fire teams can do is keep water on the battery until the fuel burns out. If you’re evacuating and leaving an EV, or other lithium ion powered devices like scooters or golf carts in your garage, you’re creating a real fire threat for your home, your communities, and first responders. Take this threat seriously. If there’s even a small risk of your EV being impacted by storm surge, move it to higher ground before it’s too late.”


2021 Update: Also new to our weather arsenal this year are these self inflating polypropylene flood barriers – basically FAUX sandbags you preposition so that, when they get WET, they blow up and do the work sandbags normally would. Got the 17′ one, plus a bag of the 6 sandbag size ones to plug holes with for our garage. When the ground gets saturated around here, there’s no place for any more water to go and the garage floods. The 17′ barrier has already stopped one flood beautifully, so I have all new ones on hand.


CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBORS: See what their plans are (Do they have any?! Do they need to get moving…?!), can you all work together, help each other out, etc…. That neighborhood coordination is precious.

Alright, shopping time.

IMHO and hard won experience, these are stores every single household should have (and you may already have much of it). Use your brain, based on the number and age of folks in your household.
Remember you are going to be HOT, cranky and exerting yourself in the aftermath if, GOD FORBID, the thing smacks you good.

Think of preparing for this as a picnic on crack. Take a good hard look at what you already have on your shelves first, add or subtract according to what you have on hand vs your particular needs/family’s tastes and then…

A Few Days PRIOR (three days out may be TOO LATE to find everything):

  • 3 gallons BOTTLED water per person (for 3 days) minimum (WATERBOB is a GREAT addition)
  • enough prescription medication to get you – and/or your pet/s – through 10 DAYS (90 days is terrific) if you take any
  • canned tuna/chicken/SPAM/shelf stable meats
  • those damned nasty Vienna snausages
  • canned chili
  • beenie weenies
  • canned soups like “chunky” that don’t need water added
  • mayo/mustard/ketchup
  • bread (Get the one with the FURTHEST OUT SHELF DATE)
  • canned vegetables, like green beans or baby peas
  • kraft macaroni and Velveeta cheese in a box with squeezy cheesy (saves ingredients/clean-up)
  • dry cereals (like Cheerios, MiniWheats etc – they make a great [SWEET] snack when you’re just looking to  mindless munch)
  • instant oatmeal
  • squeezy cheese
  • large jar(s) peanut butter
  • large jar(s) jelly
  • various boxes of crackers
  • instant coffee or tea
  • coffemate, dry milk or shelf stable milk
  • sugar, salt, pepper (wrap that bag of sugar in something water tight)
  • juice boxes/sodas/etc
  • instant potatoes (like a BIG box of “Potato Buds”)
  • whatever fresh fruit your family enjoys
  • butter or (gulp) margarine
  • dogfood/catfood/kitty litter if you have furry family members besides, well…
  • snacks and chips
  • canned/plastic jarred fruits, like cocktail or peaches
  • pudding cups
  • dish detergent
  • antiseptic hand soap
  • disinfecting wipes
  • paper towels
  • paper napkins
  • plastic utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
  • paper plates
  • plastic trash bags
  • ZIPLOCK baggies, QT and GAL
  • DUCT tape
  • boxes of wooden matches (sealed in ziplock bag), Duraflame/Zippo handheld charcoal lighters
  • BABY FOOD, BABY FORMULA (If the formula is powdered, additional WATER TO MAKE IT), DISPOSABLE
  • large candles (NOT stinky ones) ~ WITH a GAS LEAK, CANDLES CAN BE BAD. **SITUATIONAL          AWARENESS**
  • bug spray, both yard and personal
  • A BATTERY OPERATED RADIO (that voice in the dark from the local TV station will be your BEST FRIEND, trust me.) They make them now w/ additional hand cranks, and many local news stations are holding  events to set your channels for you
  • LARGE BATTERY OPERATED LIGHTS that will sit independently (hard to go to a dark bathroom holding a  flashlight)
  • small flashlights
  • LED pop-up lanterns w/ high lumen counts are great. Take the batteries OUT to store them.
  • BATTERIES and SPARES that fit EVERY SINGLE THING YOU NEED BATTERIES FOR!!! Check out all the new options for jump-start power sources, as well.
  • FILL YOUR PROPANE CANISTER(S) NOW (if you are on a direct gas hook-up, get a charcoal grill)
  • 3 bags of charcoal (wrapped and taped in heavy-duty plastic bags)
  • cans of lighter fluid for the charcoal
  • CASH (ATMs take electricity, so do credit card machines at registers)
  • CAR CHARGER for cell phones (our cells were worthless during Ivan but they worked brilliantly during Sally in 2019)
  • One old-fashioned TIRE REPAIR KIT and, additionally, one can of RUN-FLAT per vehicle, IN each vehicle
  • BIG COOLERS for the ice (and the stuff that’ll come out of that fridge)
  • FIRST AID KIT which I bolster with additional Ace bandages, BandAids of every size and description, sterile wraps, tapes, Neosporin, hydrocortisone, anti-histamine pills, aspirin etc.
  • Little Coleman propane tanks, if you have camping stoves or lights (as always, to be USED ONLY OUTSIDE AFTERWARDSDUH)
  • Old fashioned board games, playing cards, Mille Bornes, Yahtzee, books (especially with wired little ones)

-Hold off on ice until the latest you possibly can, which is why it’s NOT on the “go after work TONIGHT” list.

-TOP YOUR GAS TANKS off WHILE/WHENEVER YOU CAN. You all will have to fight a ton more people at the last second, as well as the very REAL possibility of GAS SHORTAGES prior TO/for a while AFTER ANY STORM. Then, don’t go places you don’t need to.

DIRECT plug-in phone like a Princess type, if you still have a phone company landline. Your multiple remote handset phone will not work when the power goes out, and your old fashioned one may very well get a call out on the substation batteries. See below.

(That’s dog food double-wrapped in the plastic bags and Miller Light for the Squid Terrorist to keep the generator running…)


When you’re ready to close the house up,
LOCK YOUR GARAGE DOORS DOWN. If you don’t park in your garage, PULL YOUR CARS SNUG UP TO THE DOORS. They provide the most excellent wind baffle you can imagine and, considering the further up the East Coast you go, the less the doors are reinforced like ours here in the Panhandle, you will NEED every little bit of wind mitigation you can muster. Your car insurance should take care of whatever said named storm does to the vehicle.

This is also doubly important because, contrary to the old wives tale about “equalizing pressure’, if those winds get into your garage? Not only do they start tearing the garage to bits, they start LIFTING YOUR ROOF OFF. And then your whole house is a goner. The only house in our neighborhood to have the roof (the house followed) blown to bits during the 140mph+ gusts of Ivan was the ONE home where the owner had the garage door “cracked” opened to “relieve the pressure”. Derp.

*What to Do Inside*

Get Your Important “Stuff” Together

Your papers, diplomas, etc. All those things that make your life identifiable? Those things you would rush out of a burning building with? If they’re not already in one place together, get them together NOW. And add one more thing ~ a copy of a utility bill, like electric or phone. If, God forbid, you have to evacuate and they work it like they do down here, that address on your driver’s license WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT PROOF OF YOUR RESIDENCY. You HAVE to have a utility bill with THAT address and YOUR name in your possession to return to your home. Period. (Great evacuation tips here in the comments.)

Have a “plan”. WHO are you going to call when it’s over, WHO knows where all your stuff is if, God forbid, something happens. If you get separated, have a meet-up location agreed to in advance. In our family, it’s Bingster and me tag-teaming. He has all our info for both sides of the family (including Kcruella). When the batteries on the landline substations were still working the morning after Ivan, I got a call out to him, and that’s how everyone else knew we were okay. AT&T screwed the pooch then here, so we have KEPT our landline, in spite of everything, 2019. *sniffle* Yeah, it’s finally gone. $75 mth that only telemarketers called – can’t do it. In fact, AT&T came through really well for Sally in 2019, and the days afterward with no power. JIC, I also have blankets for smoke signals.

What to Do With Important “Stuff”

You all will laugh, but I double plastic bag it, duct tape it…and put it in the dishwasher, then latch the thing shut and tape over the entire front control panel so no one turns the thing on. It’s waterproof and even if one of those spin-up tornados takes a chunk of the roof, the documents of my life are going nowhere, because they’re bolted under the counter and DRY. Other middlin’ precious things I double bag up as well and stash in a rack-free self-cleaning oven and the dryer (duct-taping the door of that shut).

Potable Water

Make sure every single water-toting vessel is clean and filled with filtered (if you can) water, from the sun-tea jar to the ancient Igloo softball cooler, to the tea kettle, and all the pitchers in between. This augments the bottled water on your list and is the FIRST water you use. (Make sure it’s COVERED to keep out bugs/dust.) As well, EVERY POT is filled to the brim with tap water for use as either coffee/tea/mac ‘n cheese makings or wash/rinse water, as well as pet drinking water. All that’s staged on the kitchen counters.

Get ALL Your Laundry Done

You can run out of underwear FAST and blow through some serious t-shirts clearing flotsam. Plus, the second the last load is out of the washer, fill it up on its largest setting with cold water and STOP it. Voilà. Another source of water for rinse/washing. (The washing machine also makes an EXCELLENT ice cooler if you are space challenged, trust me. Fill it with THAT instead. Cover ice with plastic bags and towels for additional insulation.) this is all predicated on your washer being a top loader, obviously.


Scrub EVERY tub SPARKLING With a bleach-based cleaner. We use a piece of saran wrap over the stopper, then plug it to make absolutely sure there’s NO leakage, then FILL THAT SUCKER UP. (An additional suggestion is the WaterBob in the list above for potable water storage in a tub if you have a tub to spare.) This becomes both relatively clean water to dip out for a sink sponge bath, as well as the ALL IMPORTANT FLUSH THE TOILET water. (And is ONLY used for…well, not tinkling.) Speaking of which, it doesn’t hurt to have a “Tidy Bowl” beforehand if there’s a chance the power might be out for DAYS if you get my drift…
Now, you may get lucky and have a trickle of water like we did after Fran and Sally, but the water company may beg you not to use it because they’re trying to find leaks, or it’s not potable or whatever. (Another reason to HAVE A REAL RADIO: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE)

GIVE YOUR PETS AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES TO “DO THEIR BUSINESS.” Once the front door shuts on the howling outside, it’s shut for GOOD. If it comes in during the day, we make meals a tad lighter and earlier than usual. The Scotties and Labradors always seemed to know something big was on the way, and their systems have responded accordingly, but, let’s face it: when you gotta go, you gotta go. So don’t force the poor things into that position in the first place. Plenty of available water, but schmaybe that big dinner/breakfast isn’t necessary, okay? Feed them when it’s blown over. If they spaz during thunderstorms, have whatever meds THEY need, as well as Thundershirts, etc.

LOCAL RADIO STATIONS (as well as simulcasts from local TV channels or your local university Public Radio) WILL BE YOUR BEST SOURCE OF WEATHER INFO for your area, not to mention what’s happening as the storm whirls overhead. John Ed Thompson out of Fox10, Mobile, AL is a GOD in our household for what he did during Ivan. At 3 in the morning, when, to quote the Squid Terrorist on the walkie-talkie from next door…

“It sounds like the Devil’s trying to beat my front door down! I’m fixin’ to nail 2×4’s over it and, if that doesn’t work, I’m breaking apart the china cabinet to use IT!”

…it will be friendly voices in the dark, going through the SAME THING YOU ARE, WHERE you are and you’ll know about hazards/news pertinent to YOUR area (bridges out, electric crews on the way, boil water advisories) that simply WILL NOT be available on that NOAA stream. Plus, we have learned something new and incredibly helpful from callers to the station every single storm that could conceivably save lives or property.

As for just a weather radio, I’m torn on that one. They do come in handy for weather information, BUT they also tend to be for a LARGE general area and wear on the nerves after a while, since it’s a constant stream of computer-voiced info, occasionally punctuated by earsplitting alarms that may/may not have anything to do with YOU. ARGH. If you can have only one radio going, get one that has BOTH (we do!). It’s a Midland that has the NOAA feeds/alerts on bands, as well as AM/FM, plus a hand crank, in addition to a regular battery AND plug-in. DOES IT ALL!

I can not stress enough: Your BEST information for YOUR local area will be your LOCAL radio stations, public or otherwise. KNOW AHEAD OF TIME: Spin that dial, find the ones that have affiliations with your local TV stations’ Weather/News programs and head directly for them when the shit hits the fan.

Creature Comforts

While you’re busy as a bee, I always, ALWAYS recommend setting the thermostat on your A/C (while you have it) as LOW AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY STAND IT.

As in MEAT LOCKER. Wearing SWEATS IN AUGUST cold. “But, ths, why?” you ask.

Because the second that power goes out and ALL those anxious people are still in your house in August breathing?

That temp is going to climb and F.A.S.T. And it will suck so bad.

And you will still have HOURS of storm to go and schmaybe days without power. You’ll thank me.

The Refrigerator

We were sort of old school with this. This is what we’ve always done, and ONLY works with a mostly FULL FREEZER. Once we’ve gotten ice ~ usually three to four of the big coolers’ worth, then three stacked on each other, on a beach towel, covered with garbage bags, then blankets for insulation ~ we already have inventoried the fridge itself. When the power starts going dodgy, we’ll transfer all the perishables out of the fridge to the lone ice chest (milk, BACON, eggs, half & half, etc.) and shut the door FOR GOOD. That’s IT. No peeking, no forgetting, no going in for something ~ you want the fridge to cool completely back down. When the power finally gives up the ghost, we throw unopened, big plastic garbage bags over the whole fridge, then cover that with packing blankets or whatever you have. Wrap some duct tape around it and keep your paws off. Believe it or not, that will keep all but the flimsiest frozen goods rock solid for about three days. If you don’t have power by then, you can start defrosting stuff and eating it. *NEVER eat anything that’s partially thawed. Throw it out. (*CHECK FOR THIS THE SECOND THE POWER COMES BACK ON as well, or it’ll refreeze and you could easily get sick from it later, and be clueless why. Don’t take the chance.)

With your ice chests, just break them out as you need them, always keeping the extras covered. We had ice for dang near a week after Ivan doing it this way, and thank goodness. (The stack worked out great against the door when the winds were threatening to blow it in. Dual purpose! And good times…)

There is NOTHING like the comfort of knowing you did everything you could possibly do to prepare. It’s out of your hands from that point forward.

Have a cocktail.

It’s amazing how many knuckleheads who evacuated and watched the whole damn thing on TV came home empty-handed, small children in tow no less! We were living like refugees and had to give THEM supplies.


Trees will still be falling. On your gourd.


No electricity TO RUN GAS STATION PUMPS – do NOT WASTE GAS on sightseeing what may turn out to be your last tank of petrol for WEEKS! No electricity TO RUN STOP LIGHTS. LIVE ELECTRICAL WIRES LAYING EVERYWHERE Flat tires upon multiple flat tires.


Whip you up some coffee, scrambled eggs, and lovely applewood smoked bacon sammiches on the Weber gas grill like we’ve done the morning after EVERY hurricane.

It’s a good thing.

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