With hurricane Florence heading to the east coast and other storms churning in the Gulf, people are scurrying to prepare and stockpile necessities in case of losing power and/or the ability to drive to stores. We no longer live as close to the coast as we once did , but we are close enough to be affected by flooding caused by days and days of rain after a hurricane or tropical storm. This time of year, hurricane season, always makes me more aware of how dependent most of us are for the basics of life. A simple tree branch falling on a wire can shut down neighborhood power for hours or days. A major power outage can close all the stores and businesses in a city. A major flood can shut down a whole city, including trucking routes, hospitals and banks. Houston learned once again with Hurricane Harvey this time last year that floods can be worse than winds. Some of my friends are just now moving back into their homes! Thousands were displaced and had to move to camping trailers, hotels, and other people’s homes . Then they had to pray that they had flood insurance or wait months for FEMA to help them.
The weather forecasters warned Houston for a week that unusual amounts of rain were expected, and that flooding was guaranteed. So what did people do last year to prepare for Harvey? Mostly they seemed to buy cases and cases of bottled water, lots of snacks, batteries, and alcohol. Not very helpful in this case. What ended up being needed was boats and somewhere to escape to! People were in danger of drowning in their homes, needed to get to dry ground, were stranded in cars on overpasses. I urge the people in the path of Hurricane Florence to not make the mistake of trying to drive in flood waters or stay in a flooding neighborhood. Several people died needlessly in Houston. South Carolina residents have been told to evacuate and I hope they will. I know it’s an inconvenience and many people hope the storm will not be so bad. Learn from Harvey. I know Harvey was a crazy storm , dropping up to 60 inches of rain in 4 days, and poor planning of flood control caused much more damage than the storm itself, but even less rain can cause a catastrophe.
But even those of us who were not under water were affected by the storm indirectly. You could not get the things you needed at the local stores . They were not available. Trucks could not get through Houston , a major interstate was flooded. Doctor appointments and surgeries were cancelled. Schools were closed in Houston for weeks or even months or for the rest of the year. Many schools had flood damage or no power. People could not go to work. Many people did not have power even though they were not flooded. People were under a lot of stress.
How does one prepare for situations like this? Here is one good source of info. Hurricane Preparedness . Here is the basic and expanded supplies list. It may be too late for some people to get all this for this storm, but you can do it later. It is expensive to truly be prepared for weeks without power or access to supplies. You really need a working generator or alternative power sources, money in the bank for missed paychecks, a large food and water supply, vehicles that can drive in high water, a boat. In Texas, it is hot this time of year. No power means no air conditioning. That can be very hard on the young and old and sick. And some depend on power for medical equipment. After Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, thousands had to be bussed to other cities to live. Their homes were gone or damaged.
Thankfully there are people who are specially trained for disasters, the first responders that jump into action, the Red Cross, FEMA, the electric linemen, the local leaders and law enforcement who let us all know what to do and what to expect. Facebook groups turned out to be a helpful source of information for us after Harvey. Just beware of false information and fake photos that get shared way too often, like these and others. Fake photos Think before you share. Verify with other sources if it sounds phony. What can you do to help? Volunteer after the storm, donate to the Red Cross, but mostly take care of yourself and your family and friends who need help. Fortify your house before the storm if you can. Then stay off the roads until it’s safe. No sightseeing. Good luck everyone and I’ll be praying for you.