*Surviving Hurricane Hugo*
By WAB

My Wake-up Call to Survival

I live in the eastern half of South Carolina and as you know we are susceptible to hurricanes. As with most places the general population is 99.99999% sheeple. My family is no exception. I am a Paramedic by profession and deal with emergency situations on a day-to-day basis. This event is what transformed me into a diehard survivalist.

Three days before Hurricane Hugo hit I started thinking about what I would need to help my family if it did hit. I had been thru hurricanes, storms, tornados, ice storms and such that would knock the power out from a few hours to a day. I was tired of needing things and couldnít get them. I was to be off work for two days and had my disaster plan firmly in mind. I admit that I didnít worry about this storm any more than I had the others.

With Two days to go, I pulled out my camping gear and started going thru it. The gas in the Coleman lanterns and stove was old. I flushed them with fresh fuel and fired them up. I had to go get new mantles and generators for the stove and lanterns. I finally got them working, cleaned and full of fuel. I picked up the loose items in the yard and put them away so they wouldnít be blown away. I talked to my wife to see what food we needed to get and made a trip to the grocery store to get the "emergency" items such as food, bread, milk, ice, canned food, etc. I worked on getting my stuff ready due to the fact that I would probably be called in to work due to the Hurricane. I worked on my preps till about 2 am. My mother was being admitted to the hospital the next morning at 6am for a hysterectomy, so I had to get up and leave about 5am to get her to the hospital. About 1pm, I left and came home ahead of the others, since Mama was doing fine, to get some other last minute things done. My baby sister was staying with her in the hospital till the hurricane was over. I came home and was taking the things from my truck when the phone started ringing. I answered it and was told to come on in to work at EMS. I finished doing what I needed and went to work. My family got together at my sisters house for the duration because I live in a doublewide mobile home and didnít feel secure leaving my family there by themselves.

We were told to bring clothes and what ever we needed to last for two or three days just in case. Yea Right!! I didnít carry anymore than usual except a little food. When I got to work the wind was blowing pretty good. It had been blowing all day but increased as the day wore on. We carried invalids to the hospitals and shelters. Even had some that had parents at home and they wanted us to carry them to the hospital because as one lady said "She donít need to be here". We couldnít carry someone to the hospital for that reason so they lied and said they were sick. Just to keep from having to bring them back home most of those people never came to the hospital so they had to keep them. Well, so much for family loving and caring. We worked like that until after dark. About 10 pm the wind was blowing at 75mph and we were told not to go out anymore. But as you would guess one more called in and they stupidly sent an ambulance out! That ambulance was posted across the bridge, which is 75ft high, and when the ambulance crossed the bridge the wind almost turned it over! You could hear the fear and screaming over the radio from them. That was the last call we made that night. The boss had bought some groceries for us to eat, just in case. We had an old Army surplus 25kw generator at the station that would not work. The county sent people over and they worked on it all day. It still didnít work. I finally gave up and went and laid across the bed at 11pm.I told the others to wake me "if something happened". The hurricane hit at 1pm.

I awoke the next morning at 5am. The first thing I noticed was the deathly stillness and quiet. The power was out, the phones didnít work, and the radio was out also. We all tried to call home but couldnít due to the long distance lines were out too. About 9am we started riding around town to look for and assess the damage. Surprisingly there was very little in the city, just a limb down here and there. At 11pm, the Ice House was open with no power. They had tractor-trailers pulled up outside and was selling loaves of bread and bags of ice for $5 ea. The line of people was astounding!! It was at least a mile long! The hurricane had hit only 8hrs ago! The people were fist fighting in the line too!! Simply amazing! I had never seen this kind of thing before.

We went back to the station to try to call home. I finally got thru to the emergency # for EMS in my hometown. They said that 3 tornadoes had hit town and you could not drive from one side to the other! My heart went to my feet because all my family was in town at my sistersí house! Another fellow lived in the same town as I did and we rode to work together. We told our boss that we had to go home to check on our families. He didnít want us to leave. We assured him that we had to check on our families and if they were ok we would come back. He finally said ok. We left work and headed home. The closer we got the more we saw downed trees, power lines, and buildings destroyed. It took us 3 hours to drive 40 miles of going over, under, around, and through downed trees and power lines. We got to his house first and everybody was ok. The only damage was a hole in the roof from a tree limb. I asked him to follow me because I didnít know if I would need help or not because the damage was worse the farther inland we went. When I finally got to my sisters house my family was gone!!!! My wife had the children and was joy riding!!! My town looked like it had been bombed. All power lines were down, trees uprooted or broken off at 15ft in the air, signs exploded, houses with roofs destroyed. When I finally found my wife, pure unadulterated fury flashed in me for the stupidity she showed! They were safe and unhurt!! My family said that the house had shook, moaned, moved and trembled all night. My 3yr old son looked at me with water in his eyes and asked "Daddy is the storm coming back?" I started crying myself. We loaded up and went home.

When we finally got about 100yds from my driveway we had to stop because of the trees and power lines. We walked on into the yard and it was devastated! All the power lines were down and had 27 trees uprooted, broken off at 15ft in the air. The trees were 3ft in diameter and 100 ft tall. I checked the house and shop, NO DAMAGE!!! We went back to town and luckily bought a chainsaw, gas can and accessories. I came back home and it took me 2 days to clear a path through the trees to be able to park my car in the yard. We got moved back home and set up house keeping. I dug out my Coleman lanterns and stove. We had light and could cook. I had an old hand pitcher water pump in the shop and I repaired it enough to work. I had to go get two sections of pipe to put it in my well. We were the only ones in the neighborhood that had water all the neighbors came and got drinking water. I had my family where they could make do and I had to go back to work.

I went back to work on Saturday. We started looking for generators but couldnít find any. I called a friend in Elizabeth City, NC to see if he could locate some generators. He called me back 3hrs later and said that he bought 6 generators and would meet us on I-95. He had bought $3000 worth of generators and told us not to worry about the money but pay him when we could. You donít find many friends like that!! One of the coworkers that wanted one didnít want it when we got them back because the power had come back on. After I talked to him he took it anyway! Overall the power was out for 5 days. Power stayed off for 9 days at home. There was very little gas or food to be had. The fast food restaurants started giving the food away because it was thawing out and would spoil. Gasoline and all essential goods were rationed. You could only get 5gals at a time. My boss had to steal gasoline from the county so we could come back and forth to work. All the grocery stores were closed except for couple of hours a day in which they would let you in. But all they had was stuff you didnít need.

The disaster agencies started appearing after about 3 days. They were giving out food, food stamps, clothes, and all kinds of handouts. I know people that went through the lines and they were not doing without. The National Guard was called out and secured the areas against looting. FEMA showed up and that was a disaster in itself! They were a first class cluster!! All they did was promise! Instead of the Government entities helping the people they just stood around and "secured" everything. We had checkpoints and "show your papers please"! Some places had mountains of supplies and some had none! People that really needed help got nothing at all. I saw and experienced, first hand, our governments help in a disaster situation. People, let me tell you, you will absolutely not get the help you will need in a situation like this!!!

When I got home with the generator, I put everything back including the water pump, hooked it directly into the power panel and we had lights and running water! Turned the TV on and what a mess we had all over this part of the state! We had to heat the bath water on the Coleman stove and take a "warm" bath. That was great!! They were warning people about looters that were stealing generators, gas, and all kinds of supplies. People were leaving the generators outside when they were not using them and they would get stolen. That got me to noticing that at night when we had the generator going it echoed all over the neighborhood and people driving by would slow down and look at my house with all the lights on! I started pulling the blinds and when we were not running the generator I would bring it inside. It was a godsend when the power finally came back on.

This was my wake up call to survival!! I got to thinking about what I would need if the power went off and stayed off. That in itself is a terrifying thought. Just sit there and think what would happen if the power went off overall, for say 6 weeks. There would be no reason to turn it back on after that amount of time. People would be dead, dying and fighting in the streets!!!! It would be worse than Bosnia ever thought to be!!!! I started learning about alternative power, food prep and storage, heat, cooking, medicine, medical needs, security and so on and so forth. Now I have things prepared ahead and because of this you will never see my family in a line buying "emergency supplies". It is cheaper to do what you need ahead of time than during a crisis.

I hope this article will help someone to see where taking care of and doing for yourself is in YOUR best interest. Hopefully nobody else will have to endure what I did. Why suffer when you donít have to? Learn to depend on yourself. You will come to realize that you are the only one you and your family can depend on. If I help ONE person then my job is done.

WAB


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