Updated: Advice for Hurricane rookies and greenhorns

Photo from damage to homes on Folly Beach, unnamed storm, probably 1940.
Damage to homes on Folly Beach, “unnamed storm, probably 1940”. From the Stringer Family Photo Collection.

We first posted this back in June and are now reposting since things are looking pretty crazy on the Weather Channel. Whether or not Irma is headed our way, this is a good time to review your emergency plan, prepare for an evacuation (Where would you go? What would you bring?), and stock your supplies (food, water, emergency light sources, etc.)

We asked James Island Bugle readers to send us their advice for our next hurricane which will hopefully take place sometime on the 10th of Never. We’re happy to add more advice as we receive it. The most recent additions to this story are at the top.

If you’ve got something to add, this is a story in progress, so email your contribution to jamesislandbugle@gmail.com!

Picture this

by Donna Ralphs

Take pictures of all your stuff inside and outside of your house BEFOREHAND, in case you need it for an insurance claim…and back it up to the Cloud!

Advice from a Hurricane Hugo veteran

by Nancy Hadley

1.      Be prepared.  Have an evacuation destination.  Have all your important documents (including house insurance!) in a ready to grab box, folder,or whatever.  Back up important computer files (e.g. home insurance!) in advance and put the backup (on a small external drive) with your important papers.  You do not want to be doing this the day before you evacuate!

2.      Don’t wait till the last minute to get gas.

3.      Secure your house and yard – not repeating here, it was in another post.

4.      Consider putting things that you will need after the storm up high, where the storm surge,should there be one, will not ruin them.  I am thinking your generator, chain saw, etc.  I don’t think you want to leave fuel in your house, but put them up high in your shed or something.

5.      Leave. Always a good plan. Take it from somebody who did NOT leave for Hugo: you want to leave!  Leave early and plan to take back roads – they will be less crowded than the interstates.

6.      Take at least a days worth of food and water in case of traffic jams, etc. If you make it to your destination you will be happy to have food ready to eat. (And so will your hosts).

7.      If for some reason you are not leaving:  stock up on beer, ready-to-eat food, canned goods.  Fill your bathtub with water. You may need it to flush toilets after the storm. Fill bottles with water, to cook and drink. Have an alternative cooking method such as a camp stove. If you have a grill, get propane.

The tie that binds

by Julia Adaline DeFoor

Be sure to have equipment that does NOT require batteries of any sort. Also having some floatation devices on hand is not a bad idea as well as things such as construction helmets in case of debris. My dad always had a spool of mildly thick rope to run through lifejackets (but not to tie! leave slack!) as to not lose a loved one due to wind or current.

Or you could be like us the one time that 107 tornadoes touched down in GA all at one time and just sit on the porch with a scotch and cigar (I prefer cigarettes myself) and just y’know…watch it end.

Sleeping in dead still air

by Sandra Stringer

Not everyone has a generator. If you’re one of the scores of people who don’t, there are plenty of obvious things you’ll need: a way to cook (camping cook stove and gas canisters), a flashlight or touch lights (and batteries to power them), and finally, this is so important, you really will be much happier if you have a battery operated fan.

If you are without power, and you likely will be, trying to sleep in dead still, silent, likely hot air will be a brand new experience for you. If you, like me, don’t sleep well in this sort of environment, a battery operated fan will make you feel ever so much better.

Providing the white noise that makes sleeping easy in addition to a bit of moving air to cool you down, these little fans may only serve their purpose once in your lifetime, but from the last hurricane experience (that would be Hurricane Matthew) I can tell you: I counted it among my most valuable commodities.

Oh, and doughnuts.

All this, and carbon monoxide poisoning too!

by Chris Calloway

So, when I suggested the poster I published, I was thinking of the resources on that page where you could hear from experts, because my personal advice is generally irrelevant in such situations and my three years of working for the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence has taught me to ignore folk wisdom and listen to professional emergency managers.

Don’t throw away the fact that government, NGOs, and academia have spent huge sums of money on real advice regarding storm hazard mitigation. So to resume, here’s guidance from FEMA on building a readiness kit. To that I would add food and water for your pets.

Advice from NWS: “Put boards or storm shutters over windows. Do NOT tape the windows. Taping just leaves gunk on your windows, it doesn’t protect them. Pick up all the small things laying around your yard, like toys, tools and flower pots and bring them inside. The wind could pick them up and send them slamming into windows, cars or you! If you’re not close to shore and plan to stay in your home during the storm, clean drains and prepare for flooding. Stay safe by staying indoors. Falling trees, flying debris, downed power lines, flooded roads–it is just not safe to be outdoors. Any decision to evacuate the coast should be made well in advance of the storm’s arrival. *Follow the guidance of the emergency managers in your area.* Beware of the eye of the hurricane. A hurricane is a big doughnut of wind with a calm section at the middle. The whole hurricane can be 300 miles across. The calm center may last from a few minutes to an hour. The sun may even come out in the eye and you might think the storm is over. But it isn’t. As the hurricane moves on, winds will blow just as hard, but from the opposite direction.”

Here’s a really detailed guide: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes….

And another: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php.

Here’s a bunch of advice from last month’s Hurricane Preparedness Week (I’m telling ya, they spend huge amounts of time, money, and effort on this): https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness.

The Red Cross weighs in: https://www.redcross.org/…/MEDIA…/m4340160_Hurricane.pdf.

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/feat…/hurricanepreparedness/index.html.

USCG: https://www.uscg.mil/…/suggested%20hurricane%20supply….

OK, here’s my personal advice: if you get a generator as many people advise, for Pete’s sake also get a battery powered carbon monoxide monitor and know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators can be dangerous beasts in a storm, whether indoors or outdoors. Besides CO, they can also cause fires or electrocution.

Has George Washington drowned?

by Jon Greer

Put a container/cup in your freezer. Let it freeze. Place a quarter on top to see if/how much your freezer thawed and refroze during power outages.

Hit the road, Jack

by Gretchen Stringer-Robinson

If they tell you to evacuate, EVACUATE! Take your pets — oh, and the kids, I guess….maybe the spouse too and any relatives you care about…and leave. Take drinking water with you.

If a tree falls on your house, there’s not going to be anything you can do about it, except get crushed if you stay home.

It is, apparently, Beer O’Clock

by Billy Lide

As a non coastal resident, I don’t know if my advice or input is needed and may not be welcome since our hurricane experiences are vastly different. But, since I have the time… here it goes.

Buy a generator today. Get it now, long before you need it. Understand the proper and safe use of a generator and how to store gasoline for a long time without it turning to varnish in the can. Only buy non-ethanol gas for your generator.

As the hurricane approaches, there is plenty of time to shop for essentials….water, batteries, ammo, etc. Do those things. But as a generator owner, who expects several days without power, buy a bunch of frozen, microwavable meals. Enough for thrice daily feeding of everyone in your house. The generator, while running safely outside can keep your fridge and freezer functioning;
and when its time to eat, your microwave and toaster can be used to heat your meals.

Lastly, buy beer. A lot of beer…you won’t be working for a few days.