*Hurricane Irma Comes To Central Florida*
28 September 2017
I live in central Florida between Orlando and Tampa Florida. Hurricane Irma came to visit the Sunday night/Monday morning (10-11 September 2017). This article provides some observations and lessons learned from that experience.
- Use a checklist. Checklists help you remember things under stress, there are many checklists on the web offered by FEMA, the Red Cross, various state governments etc. Pick one and modify it to fit your circumstances. After Mathew (2016) and Irma I have updated the checklist to reflect lessons learned and ease of use. Ideally the checklist takes you thru preparation for the season, an actual hurricane and recovery.
- Boarding up/Hurricane Shutters. This was the first time I had to board up the house. I had materials and a plan. It still took longer than expected. Unless you have done this a couple of times, I would plan for it to take longer than expected.
- Generator use. Think through your use of generators in detail. What do you plan to run off your generators and for how long? How much gasoline and oil will it use? Where will you store your fuel? What are the maintenance intervals for changing the oil and filters? How many power cords will you need? Where do you plan on placing the generator? How will you protect it from the elements and flooding? How will you dampen the noise? Do you have a fire extinguisher for the generator?
- Lights. Do you have enough flashlights and lanterns? I keep a flashlight in every room and check the batteries on a regular basis. I also keep small lanterns in every bedroom with several larger lanterns available for general purpose use. A headlamp is a great thing to have also.
- Batteries. Going into Irma I used D cells, AA's, AAA's and 6 volt lantern batteries. My plan going forward is to get down to using D cells and AA batteries for ease of stockage and use.
- Organization. As much as possible I like to organize my preps into functional kits stored primarily in plastic totes or bins. This helps for inventorying, updating and telling family members where to find things.
- House Guests. Have a plan for handling guests. My brother and SIL live in south Florida and we had talked about them coming our way if needed. As Irma tracked further west, they decided to evacuate their current location and come our way. They arrived largely self-sustaining with food, water, and bedding. We were prepared to provide everything if required. Fortunately we had thought through where they were going to sleep, bathroom to use etc.
- Communications and Situational Awareness. Most of our news comes from TV these days. But what will you do as power goes out and you lose TV? Several of our local stations were doing simulcast on different AM and FM radio stations. We keep a NOAA weather radio plugged in and ready as a matter of course. Additionally I am an Amateur Radio ("ham") operator and a weather spotter so I checked in to the local spotter net and monitored it throughout the night. I wish I had thought to pull out a county and state map as it would have helped track the course of the storm based on the radio reports.
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