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Author Topic: Riding the storm out.

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Riding the storm out. Don't be a snowflake.

I'm sure most of you watched the "live" media coverage of the recent hurricanes. Did you learned anything from it?

Within a 2 week period the US had 2 Category 4 hurricanes make landfall in Texas and Florida. Texas received 52 inches of rainfall over a 5 day period causing massive flooding and property damage to our fourth largest metro area. The Florida Keys took a direct hit with the destruction of 25% of the buildings and severe property damage to the rest. The entire state of Florida had flooding and storm surge; especially in the southern portion. 7.8 million customers lost power and 60,000 workers from all over the country are still working feverishly to restore service. Approximately 1 million customers in GA and SC lost power as well. There is major tree damage. Food, water, fuel and batteries are unobtainable in many ares...difficult to find in others. Cellular phone service and the internet are out in many areas too. At one point before Irma made landfall 6 million people clogged the interstates in a desperate attempt to evacuate. At least 200,000 who could'nt leave sought shelter in government buildings. Fuel and motels became non existent.

During the 60's and early 70's I spent my summers in the Orlando area with an aunt and uncle; so I'm very familiar with Florida.

We rode more than one storm out. My uncle always said there were two kinds of people in FL...real Floridians and the snowflakes. Real Floridians knew better than to live on the coast and always prepared for hurricane season. Snowflakes live on the beach, never prepare and panic every time there is a storm.

I've watched a lot of both kinds of people in the news the past few days and some of them really are a special kind of stupid.

So here's my perspective for all those "panic preppers" out there.

Unless you're a special kind of stupid, you know you live in a hurricane prone area. Even if there hasn't been a major storm in years, you know one WILL come some time in the future. So, why aren't you prepared NOW?

Every time a hurricane begins to brew out in the ocean you always have a week or two of advance notice; so why do you procrastinate till the last minute, then rush to the store and fight with the hoards of unprepared over "essential" supplies?

If you live along the coast, in a low lying area prone to flooding or in a mobile home why do you not have a evacuation plan?

Unless you are a special kind of stupid you KNOW several things WILL happen during a hurricane.

Gas and propane will become unavailable or at best expensive and extremely hard to find.

Same for water, food, batteries and generators. They will disappear from the store shelves overnight.

ALL the interstates will become clogged with traffic as panicked people make a mad dash to run from the storm.

There WILL be extremely high winds with flooding and the loss of electricity.

Trees and power lines will come down with debris scattered everywhere. Roads will become impassable making travel dangerous or impossible in many areas.

Communications will be difficult if not impossible...cell phones, the internet, tv stations etc. may all go down.

And, when the storm makes landfall, don't expect the government to be there to hold your hand or save you from you're own stupidity. You will be on your own for several days, possibly weeks. You are going to have to depend upon yourself, friends and neighbors to make it through the tough time.

If you fail to prepare now while you still have plenty of time you have no one to blame but yourself when chaos arrives at your doorstep.

So, what should you do to prepare?

I'll give you some suggestions in part 2.

[ 09-17-2017, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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One good thing to do, is not build (or rebuild) in areas that are prone to flooding. The problem is, the government subsidizes and encourages people to build there by providing low-cost flood insurance.

If you want to live in the Florida Keys, I don't blame you. It's beautiful there. But I live in Oklahoma, and nobody subsidizes my tornado insurance, so why should I pay for your flood insurance?

When more people realize they can't afford to live in areas prone to flooding because of the high insurance rates, fewer people will build their homes there. And then hurricanes will be responsible for less damage and fewer deaths.

Unfortunately nobody listens to us free market guys.

Onward and upward,

Posts: 17711 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator

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My uncles old house in Winter Garden was built in the early 50's long before the "modern" standards. Back then they knew how to build something to stand the weather. It's still there and has survived every storm so far.

It's made out of concrete block with a terrazzo floor a couple of feet above ground. The roof sloped on all sides to shed the wind and had a large overhang over the windows for shade. All the windows had metal storm shutters. Water came from a shallow well. And there was a kerosene stove in the center of the house for the occasional cold spell.

Uncle always said people were making a big mistake when they went to 'modern stick built' houses...especially along the coast.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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I rode out a couple of (smallish) hurricanes in the Caribbean...All the houses were made of concrete, with tile roofs, storm shutters that really worked, and most had standby generators.

And afterwards: Best diving EVAH!

Emergency Medicine - saving the world from themselves, one at a time.

"Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander."

I make the ADL soil themselves. And that makes me very happy :)

Posts: 1945 | From: Slipping the surly bonds of earth | Registered: Dec 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
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When I was stationed at SAC Headquarters back in the early 80's, I helped clean up after a couple neighborhoods were flooded by the Missouri river overflowing its banks. I felt sorry for them - until I learned this happens to them about every ten years. They just keep cleaning up and rebuilding in the same place.

And guess who's paying for their flood insurance. Yep. We are.

Onward and upward,

Posts: 17711 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator

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They just keep cleaning up and rebuilding in the same place.
That's the people in the Keys. I've always thought the were a strange combination of crazy and extremely brave. Used to know I guy from there who got off on riding the storm out. The worse the storm the more he found it a challenge to be overcome. Would not leave no matter how bad it got.

Back then only the hard core lived on the keys. He was like "uber survivalist" always prepared for anything and lived in a house that was built like a tiger tank.

Watched several videos of the Keys now...could not believe what I saw...entire islands covered bumper to bumper with camper trailers that weren't even anchored down. Now that's a special kind of stupid. And these tourists are crying because their stuff is gone or trashed...and 'da goobermit needs to do sumpin'.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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I remember when Anthony hit Florida years ago. One fellow was complaining that he needed baby formula, and no one was providing it.

Just who the hell prepares for a hurricane without stocking up on baby formula? I'm not wild about Child Protective Services (putting it mildly), but maybe that baby really would be better off somewhere else.

Onward and upward,

Posts: 17711 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator

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Get ready to ride the storm out

Get ahead of the herd. Don't be a panic prepper. You should begin your storm preparations at least One month before the start of hurricane season:

Situational Awareness:
Maintaining situational awareness before and during a disaster is of critical importance. Under NO circumstances should you depend on the systems infrastructure. It WILL fail when you need it most. Things like the cellular phone service or the internet can and will go down during a hurricane or other natural disaster. Begin monitoring the news and weather for any storms brewing out in the Atlantic or the Gulf.

Plan: If you fail to plan; you have planned to fail.

Get to know your neighbors. Figure out the good guys from the jerks. You need to become friends with at least a couple of them. Make plans to help each other during and after the storm.

If you live in a high crime area with lots of gang activity; PLAN on having to defend yourself from looters and thieves. Include your 'good' neighbors in your defensive planning.

Create a Basic Communications Plan for your group. (family and neighborhood)

Create an EVACUATION PLAN; especially if you live near the coast, in a RV or mobile home or in a flood prone area. FIRST: you must have somewhere to go. Forget trying to find a room at motel 6. Find a friend or family member in a reasonably secure area who will be willing to let you come visit for a few days. Better yet find several friends...one 60 miles from your location, one 100 miles and one 500 miles. Make arrangements with these people in advance. When the storm season starts, contact these people and let them know you may be coming. And when the time comes, contact them and let them know: When you're leaving, Which route you intend to take and When you think you will arrive. SECOND: You must know how to get there. Unless you are leaving well in advance of the herd, AVOID the interstates like the plague. You do NOT want to be caught in this mess...

Get a roadmap and locate several of those old 2 lane highways leading out of your area. You want to use the roads everyone but the old timers have forgotten. Once you’ve mapped out a primary and a couple of alternate routes, get out and actually drive them for a bit. And remember, fuel may not be available on the road; so plan on carrying enough to get you to your destination.

Bug Out Vehicle:
You don't have to have a monster truck. A SUV or mini van is a good candidate for a “Bug Out Vehicle”. Your B O V must be able to hold everyone plus a 96 hour Bug Out Bag for every passenger, plus essential evacuation gear, extra fuel, water and supplies. Make sure this vehicle is in a good state of repair. Now is a good time to change the oil and filter plus air and fuel filter. Make sure ALL the lights work and that tires, brakes and wiper blades are in perfect working order. Make any needed repairs now.

Clean up:
Trim all the bushes and trees around your property.
Secure everything. Make sure there is nothing lying around the yard than can go flying during a high wind.
Make sure you have no loose gutters, shutters or shingles. If so, fix it NOW.
Measure all the windows and doors of your house. Figure out how much plywood you will need to secure them.

PLAN your shopping trips in advance. BEFORE you rush out and buy a bunch of "stuff", TAKE STOCK OF WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE ON HAND. Do an inventory and make a list of everything you think you'll need and the stores where you can find it.

FOOD. Go to the local discount grocery store and purchase ONE months supply of canned goods. Several cases of things like green beans, corn, chili, beef stew, spaghetti, soup and spam etc. Pick up several cases of canned soft drinks. Dry cereal and peanut butter is a good idea as well.

WATER. Don't waste your time buying cases of bottled water. Instead purchase at least 4 5-6 gallon water containers. You can find these many places. They look like a blue gas jug and are clearly marked ”WATER”. While you’re out shopping pick up 4 5 gallon food grade buckets and gamma seal lids at the local building supply store. Also begin saving 1 gallon milk jugs. Pick up a couple of gallons of unscented 'plain' bleach.

If at all possible you should build a rain barrel system with 2-4 55 gallon food grade barrels. These can be found inexpensively used at restaurants.

If you have ANY medical condition that requires medication, stock up on extra meds now. Make sure you have a well stocked First Aid kit. Forget those cute little "survival" kits. You can purchase everything you'll need at stores like Dollar General.

FUEL. Several 20 pound cylinders of propane or top off the ones you already have. If the power goes out use these with your gas grill for cooking and boiling water.

At least 4 5 gallon fuel jugs for gas. Fill these with non ethanol gas and fuel stabilizer.

NOTE: A generator will use a lot of fuel. If possible, you should find a clean 55 gallon steel barrel and fill this with treated non ethanol fuel. Keep this barrel in an outside shed with plenty of ventilation. To transfer the fuel into smaller cans a barrel pump will be necessary.

BATTERIES. Buy a ton of AA and D cells. You need enough to keep flashlights, lanterns, radios etc running for a period of ONE month.

LIGHT. Make sure every person in the house has a good quality LED flashlight. You also need several LED lanterns ...one for every main room in the house.

PLYWOOD. Buy enough sheets of plywood and screws to cover all doors and windows. As soon as you get it home cut it to fit and store it ready for immediate use. Note: Mark each piece of plywood so you will know which window it is cut for.

While you're at the building supply store pick up several tarps, a roll of clear plastic sheeting, duct tape, some rope and anything else you think you might need to make emergency repairs on your house after the storm.

TOOLS. Make sure you have basic carpentry tools, a axe, shovel, large crowbar, AND a chainsaw with fuel, oil etc ready to go. If you don't have these things; get them now.

GENERATOR. Purchase one of these during the off season. Don't plan on powering the entire house. Your priority will be keeping the freezer and the fridge going. Also, make sure you have plenty of heavy duty extension cords.

BATTERY. Purchase a group 29 or 31 deep cycle marine battery and a “smart” battery charger like this - 4 Amp Fully Automatic Microprocessor Controlled Battery Charger/Maintainer You will use this battery to power all your communications equipment and a LED light.

Since water may be in short supply you should also buy a large quantity of Styrofoam plates, plastic cups and flatware. And, don't forget the garbage bags. It may be some time before garbage pickup resumes after the storm so have plenty on hand.
Several large packs of toilet paper and paper towels...enough to go for at least a month.
Several large packs of bar soap and large bottles of anti-bacterial hand soap.
Several packs of bic lighters and several boxes of large kitchen matches.

When there’s a disaster or a long-term power outage, you need backup communication.

During Hurricane Katrina, more than 70 percent of cell towers went down — and stayed down for weeks. The truth is that cell phone communication is very vulnerable, and if you’re currently relying on cell phones as your primary communication device in the event of that kind of a situation, you need to reconsider.

Cell towers need AC power to operate, and most don’t have an automatic backup system. Even those that have emergency generators are only on during short-term emergencies.

To monitor news, weather and emergency frequencies you will need several battery powered radios.

NOAA radio - Midland WR-120 NOAA Public Alert-Certified Weather Radio with SAME, Use this to monitor the weather.
Shortwave radio - CountyComm GP-5 AM/FM/Shortwave SSB Radio This little radio will operate 225 hours on 3 AA batteries. Use it to monitor AM and shortwave broadcast staions as well as the hurricane watch frequencies on the amateur bands.
2 handheld vhf/uhf radios - BTECH UV-5X3 VHF, 1.25M, UHF Tri-Band Radio Use these to communicate with family and neighbors out to about 3-5 miles. Program them with all the MURS, GMRS/FRS frequencies. You should also program several of the important public service and local area amateur freqs for monitoring during an emergency.
1 CB - President McKinley AM SSB Install this in your BOV with the appropriate antenna.
1vhf/uhf mobile radio - BTECH UV-25X2 X-Series - MobiLe 25 Watt Dual Band Radio Install this in your BOV with the appropriate dual band antenna.

One week before expected landfall:
Monitor your local AM talk radio station and the tv for news and weather updates. Keep your NOAA weather radio running 24/7. Pay particular attention to where they expect the storm to make landfall. Remember this will probably change so stay on it.
Fill all vehicle gas tanks and keep them topped off every time you go out.
Make a 'normal' grocery shopping trip. Pick up plenty of "comfort" food like chips and cookies.
Pick up several bags of ice and put them in the freezer.
Make sure the generator is secured, fueled up and ready to run. TEST IT.
Pack your 96 hour Bug Out Bags and put them in the Bug Out Vehicle.
If it’s a certainty that the event will be catastrophic in your immediate area, secure the house and get out now. Before you leave shut off the gas supply and all circuit breakers.

96-72 hours before landfall:
Fill ALL water containers, jugs etc. with fresh water.
Install your pre-cut plywood over the windows.
Make sure every flashlight, lantern and radio has fresh batteries installed. TEST these devices and make sure they are in working order.
Do any necessary last minute shopping. Be prepared for shortages and long lines of irate panic preppers.
Stop by the bank and pull out as much CASH as possible. After the storm the atms's and card readers may not work.

24 hour before landfall:
Shut off the gas supply to the house.
Shut off circuit breakers to non essential rooms and appliances.
Crank up the thermostat on the fridge and freezer. You want these to be as COLD as possible before you loose power.
Do the same thing with the house AC.
Fill all the bath tubs with water.
Gather everyone in the safest room of the house.
Make sure everyone has a pair of sturdy work boots...NO flip flops.

The storm is over and you survived. If you're lucky all you have to do is clean up a big mess and repair some minor property damage. But, it may be much worse.

First make sure everyone in the house is safe. Do not let the wife and kids run outside to "check it out".

Evaluate the damage:
Do not go fumbling around outside in the dark unless absolutely necessary. If you must go out after dark, a good LED Rechargeable Cordless Spotlight will be helpful.

When you go outside to evaluate the damage be extremely careful. Use common sense and pay attention to what you are doing. Expect trees and power lines to be down. You may have a tree on the house or severe roof damage. If there is any water around the property and live power lines are down don't just run out and jump in...unless you want to be electrocuted.

Once you've checked your property go check on your neighbors; especially the elderly.

If you loose power you'll have to run the geny to keep the food cold and charge your batteries.

Be safe. Make sure the generator and all drop cords are not in contact with any water.
Provide plenty of ventilation. Do not place the generator in the house or close to a open window where gas fumes will enter the house.
NEVER refuel a hot generator while it's running. Shut it down and let it cool off.
To save precious fuel don't run the generator non stop. Keep a thermometer in the coolers and when the temp goes up start the generator and cool things down. Then shut it off.

Flood water will be contaminated with all kinds of nasty stuff. Don't let the kids play in it.
Makes sure everyone washes hands regularly...especially before cooking or eating or if you've been in contact with contaminated water.
Clean and disinfect all cuts immediately.
Sewer service may be out; so be prepared to make and use "bucket toilets" lined with a heavy duty garbage bag.
Dispose of all waste as far as possible from your living area.
Be prepared to boil and or disinfect all water.

[ 09-28-2017, 07:37 AM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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Good advice.

Do any of you in hurricane areas use RV's/travel trailers for bugging out for when these storms hit, and if you do have you made any special modifications or accommodations to them or for special needs family members ?

My Daddy is like duct tape, he can fix almost anything.

A quote from my youngest daughter at 4yrs old, many years ago.

Posts: 223 | From: South-central Colorado | Registered: Dec 2009  | Report this post to a Moderator

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Ducttape, I'm tweaking my last post this afternoon. Adding some links and info. Check it again later this evening.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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Even better C.S.C., THANK YOU !

My Daddy is like duct tape, he can fix almost anything.

A quote from my youngest daughter at 4yrs old, many years ago.

Posts: 223 | From: South-central Colorado | Registered: Dec 2009  | Report this post to a Moderator

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Irma – After Action Report

As Alfred E. Neuman say’s, “What? Me worry?” I live in North Central Florida, so usually by the time a hurricane reaches us, it’s dwindled in strength. Having read Mr. Rawl’s blog for many years, I do prepare. Oddly, this time around, employers let most of the employees leave work Friday, even though the event wasn’t expected until sometime on Saturday. It ended up being later. Guess hurricanes work on their own schedule.

Friday, I went to Walmart to do some last minute stock ups. Tarps were gone. Water was gone. Camp stoves were gone. Batteries were still in stock, but the bread and milk aisles were gone, and tape (for windows) was mostly gone.

People were moving north. Gas stations were doing a brisk business. By Saturday there was an element of fear among travelers you could almost taste. Businesses were mostly closed.

Sunday night/Monday morning Irma rocked into town. It was no stealth operation. Somewhere around 11AM Saturday, it got so bad that emergency personnel were pulled off the road and told to hunker down and wait.

Monday morning everyone just took stock of the destruction. Not much was moving. Mostly people were in a mild form of shock.

Here are my personal lessons learned.

At least with my cooler, only expect about 2.5 days of coolness. If you have lifesaving meds, you need another plan.
Chainsaws – when trees break in wacky ways and you don’t do tree work enough, you have to have a rescue chainsaw for when yours gets bound up.
We have a big 55 gallon plastic drum, which is also a water catcher on the corner of the house. It’s used to water plants but also emergency flush water as we are on an electric powered well.
Without running water, don’t ever underestimate the amount of time you’re going to be carrying and moving water. Don’t underestimate the amount of water you will need.
While I had plenty of snack type food to carry us through for a couple of days, without the power and no camp stove that gets old. Even if you do cook, in bad weather clean up becomes an issue. So at least pack a week’s worth of MREs. No cooking is needed, and you just throw the remains in a plastic bag.
Power and Internet (phone and wired) will be the first to go. When you are used to duckduckgoing for answers to “how long will milk be good, if left on the counter?”, a battery powered radio is a poor substitute.
Don’t forget to fill up on gas, diesel. Not only will travelers be buying it up, but so will your neighbors in bulk to run their generators.
Have a battery pack or solar charger for your cell phone. It will probably be the only link of communication you have, and what might normally take a week to discharge will be gone in a day if it’s got to push enough juice to make it to the next cell tower, cause your closest is laying on the ground.
I live near county road 301, which connects interstate 75 and 95. When those two interstates got backed up, officials thought a good ideal would be to divert people to 301. Gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants along this route are setup to handle locals and a few passersby, not the golden horde. The result was resources needed for the local community were picked clean by out of towners. So, recognize that at any time your area can be filled with people and the limited resources available locally can be picked clean in hours.
Last thought– you’re from the big city and you’re blowing through some local Hicksville. Don’t get ugly with natives. That can only end poorly for you.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator

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Here's an excerpt from another AAR. This person left his BOL and went back to his home in Fla to secure it and make any necessary repairs after the storm passed. Note some of what he ran into.

I had a recent experience of traveling into a situation where everyone else was leaving due to Hurricane Irma. I learned some valuable lessons during the process...

Mass Traffic

As I traveled into north Florida finally, a twenty hour trip one way for me, I was shocked at the mass traffic headed northbound coming out of the state. There were gridlocks three lanes wide for twenty miles long. Vehicles were stopped, sitting. Then this continued on for over a hundred and fifty miles. The exits were nonsense.

Long Lines To Get Fuel And Stations Without Fuel

The lines to get fuel in North Fl were twenty cars long for each row. My plan of filling up when I got home suddenly were no longer effective. Arriving home, I found no fuel available anywhere. I had my reserve fuel but was low in the tank, having driven the last 288 miles thinking there would be fuel when I got home. There are 19 gas stations that sell diesel within about five miles or so of my house and over a hundred within a 15 mile radius, yet there was no fuel.

Two days later, I found diesel by calling local stations on the phone. I finally found one at at 0330 that had a few thousand gallons being delivered right then. I immediately went there to fill up, and the manager said please be quick since they had no gasoline and as soon as people saw me fueling up there would be a mass of cars again. Sure enough, at 0330 mind you, I pulled up to pump number 22 out of 48 pumps at this deserted station and within minutes almost thirty cars arrived and sat at pumps thinking there was gasoline available.

It was something out of a movie. That was the last time I saw diesel for the next seven days, during which time I did not again fuel up until the first available fuel in Georgia while headed north back to the farm a whole five days after the storm.

Bring Your Own Fuel

Port Tampa is the fuel facility in my area; it’s only 20 miles away and could not hope to begin to supply the demand, regardless of storage reserves or barges from Texas. It’s a good thing I brought gas for the gen sets and the saws. None was to be had. I found ice at 0530 in the morning at a gas station off the interstate than had no gas (three days before the storm even hit Florida) and bought the last three bags.

Stores Wiped Out

Lastly, my home is in an area where there are five Super Walmart’s, nine large chain grocery stores, a Sam’s Club, Costco, two Lowes, and a Home Depot all within an eight mile radius. I’ll repeat, all of those stores are within eight miles of my home. I have 500 thousand neighbors in my county in Florida just north of Tampa. There are rural areas, and it’s not what you would envision as a overbuilt heavy city area at all. Everything related to either survival, comfort, or basic necessity was sold out days before the hurricane even hit. All coolers, cots, fans, AC units, ice, water, fuel, plywood, tarps, tape, garbage cans, plastic sheeting, pet food, canned food, snacks, juices, bread, batteries, flashlights, and on and on and on were wiped out.

Not the Big One

This was not the big one. This was simply a hurricane. I’ve lived through eight. This was not a major terrorist attack, an EMP, dollar collapse, or anything even remotely close to being what I would call an unexpected crisis. We had ten days to discuss it prior. In the end, it’s a big storm with big, big wind. There was no power for days. Clean up was brutal in the heat and humidity, but I survived okay, because I prepped. Thousand upon thousands did not fare as well and were beyond miserable, spent thousands in the rush, and didn’t get anything valuable from it. Others evacuated not knowing where they would even end up and spent days on the road, having to use the side of the road for bathroom events, locked into mile after mile of dead stopped interstate only to find exits clogged and no fuel.

Unexpected Things You Don’t Plan On

I learned that no matter how good you are at prepping, there are unexpected things you don’t plan on. You can never ever underestimate the panic buying factor of any given area. You also can’t do a thing about mother nature except sit, watch, and appreciate the little things you had at the moment. I am back to prepping with a renewed vision, a smarter outlook, and a greater satisfaction, having bugged in to the latest weather disaster.

Oh, and if you ever think you’re going to wait to leave a populated area until the last minute, you had better think again.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator

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After Action Report On Hurricane Irma,
by Florida Dave

The Prep Prepping

Our prepping to deal with Hurricane Irma was done in a series of steps based on the probability of a strike affecting my area. I wrote about this in a previous article posted on SuvivalBlog. My preps for a Hurricane started two weeks prior when I notice a storm taking a track towards Cuba and local meteorologists saying, “We need to watch this one.” I had recently completed a quick inventory and tested the generator, lanterns, and camping stove. So my two week prior check was done, or so I thought.

Pre-Labor Day Preliminary Prepping

On the Thursday before the Labor weekend, August 31, Irma was tracking towards Cuba and ten days out. It was then that I did the following:

Checked my supplies.
Purchased 30 gallons of fuel in 5-gallon cans for use with the generator and cars. (I added 4oz of Stabil to each 5-gallon can of gas. This will keep the gas good for up to 1 ½ years.)
Purchased 40 Gallons of purified water for home and 10 gallons for use at work.
Purchased one package of D batteries.

Sunday, September 2

The Storm was tracking more towards Florida and the masses were not yet preparing. At that point, I:

Filled up all the cars.
Cleaned the rain barrels. Rain barrels can provide my family with about 150 Gallons of water each time it rains. The water is clear and silt free. To purify the water, I run it though a Berkey water filter.
Pulled the box fans, coolers, and storm shutter fasteners from the attic.
Picked up AAA batteries at Lowes and salt for the water softener. (It could be a long time before salt would be available.)
Shopped Walmart for last minute items to pick up: two gallons of unscented, regular bleach, large pack of toilet paper, bandages, and some additional first aid supplies, dish soap, and body soap.

Storm Tracks Toward Florida
Monday, September 4

The storm was tracking towards the east coast of Florida. After garbage and recycling was picked up, I cleaned and bleached both cans. From this point on I took garbage to work and tossed it in the dumpster, thinking it could be a couple weeks or longer before garbage would get picked up. Should the storm get close to us, I would fill each can about 1/3 up with water to keep it weighted down and tuck them between shrubs on the side of the house. My son cleaned the rain gutters.

Tuesday, September 5

The hurricane path was now tracking towards the center of Florida and panic prepping was all around. Gas lines were long, 10-15 deep at Costco. The county was preparing to order Level A and then Level B Mandatory Evacuations. People were trying to get out. Ironically, people were still being civil and polite. My prepping of supplies was done except for keeping the cars filled up.

Wednesday, September 6

The track looked like it was holding on the center of the Florida, and reports were saying my area was expecting Tropical Storm force winds (below 74 mph). People were a little more relaxed. I needed some non-prep related items from Costco, so I stopped by on the way home from work. Gas lines were five deep, but at least they had gas. Most stations by this point were out of gas, though some still had diesel. I was able to get some eggs and items I would like to have but did not need. The lines at Costco were normal, but water was completely gone. I overheard a Costco employee say they only had 2500 gallons of fuel left.

Thursday, September 7th

The track had changed, and we were on the X for a CAT3-CAT 4 storm. The seriousness of the situation was sinking in. People were not panicked; they were frightened and almost sad in their demeanor. Roads were clogged with people evacuating. Most gas stations did not have gas. I had overlooked one thing and that was shuttering my front door. This required installing mounts using Tapcon screws, which I had purchased some time ago. I did this after getting home from work. It was tiring and kept me from doing other prep work I should be doing. (Note to self: Next project like this, don’t procrastinate!)

Serious Matters With High Patrol Escorts

It was on Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9, that the Florida Highway Patrol began escorting tankers to gas stations. Regular gas was becoming available although only at a few gas stations. By Friday night there were very few cars on the road, and most business were closed. Both my wife and I found regular gas, so we topped the tanks off. By Saturday at noon all stores, including gas stations and grocery stores were closed. Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot may have stayed open a few hours later.

The roads were empty; it was eerily quiet. Local and state government personnel held regular news conferences, One thing that stuck in mind was when the Sheriff stated, “After the storm, the County would be locked down; no one would be allowed in until a full damage assessment was done.” The reasoning was to make sure electrical lines and trees were not blocking roads and EMS personnel could operate without interference from a hoard of people trying to get back in. I began a 12-hour on/12-hour off work schedule preparing the business I work for to operate during the storm.

Remaining Preps

My wife and two teenagers completed the bulk remaining preps, which included the following:

Installed the hurricane shutters.
Brought all loose objects in from outside.
Made ready two battery-operated lanterns and two additional flashlights.
Put new batteries in the radio.
Communicated with family members and asked them to use text messaging only when communicating and to not worry if they don’t hear from us for a period of time.
Finished all the laundry.
Turned the fridge and freezer temps down.

Final Preps as Storm Pounds Key West

Then on Sunday and Monday, September 10 and 11 Irma was pounding Key West and destroying infrastructure. At home before going into work, we finalized plans for dealing with the storm. Prior to wind gusts starting, we did the following:

Moved immediate needed items from the fridge and freezer to a cooler. Fridge and freezer were not opened from this point on.
Cleaned the kitchen sink and ran the disposal unit.
Charged cell phones and laptops.

I had my “go bag” with me and necessary supplies at work. Now, we rode the storm out and hoped our preps were done right.
Irma, The Aftermath.

The storm had past and we got lucky, experiencing only “tropical storm” force winds in our area. We did have a major power outage affecting most of the county. There was no power at the house; however water, sewer, and cell service were all working.

County Opened Only After Prompt Damage Assessment

It did not take long for the county to complete a damage assessment, and the county was opened around noon on Monday 9/11. On my way home at 3:30pm, I noticed none of the traffic lights were working. The city already had generators running to provide power to the lift stations (sewage pumps). City and County LEOs were positioned at major intersections and around gas stations. They kept traffic flowing by preventing left hand turns at major intersections. All intersections were treated as 4-way stops. Driving was slow, but with little traffic on the road driving was not much of a problem.

I arrived home to hear the generator running and was told my son had fired the generator up at 10am. Everything in fridges survived. The generator was then run 7am-11am, 1pm-3pm, 6pm to 11pm. The schedule easily allowed us to charge laptops and cell phones, provided lights as needed, and kept fridges cold. This schedule required five gallons of fuel per day. Prior to the storm, I gave my son instructions on how to get the generator going, which he executed to perfection.

Generator Setup and Operation

My generator setup and operation is as follows:

The generator is a standard 5500 Watt gas generator.
The generator connects to an NEMA L14-30P 30 AMP outlet on the side of my house. This outlet accommodates up to a 7500 watt generator.
The outlet feeds a 30 AMP breaker on my main panel.

Cutting House Power Over To Generator

To cut over to generator, the process is manual and is as follows:

Turn off all breakers.
Cut the main breaker off.
There is a metal device that slides up, blocking the main breaker and allowing the generator breaker to be turned on. This prevents back feeding the grid or damaging the generator when power is restored.
The generator is locked to a large tree and grounded to a grounding rod using battery jumper cables.
Turn on the generator and let it warm up for 5-10 min. Flip the generator power output switch on and the generator is now feeding the panel.
Breakers marked in green can be turned on; those marked in red should not be turned on.
Breakers are turned on one at a time. When a breaker is turned on, anything not necessary on that breaker is turned off.

Actions During Power Outage

During the power outage, we did the following:

Food from the fridge was used first, and cooking was done using the grill as an oven or using the side burner.
It was hot in the house but not intolerable. Nights were relatively cool. Taking a cold shower right before bed helped.
Coffee kept me going. We made a pot each morning while the generator was running. If it got bad, I have an ample stash of instant coffee.
During the power outage, we always had someone stay at the house.
Time was passed reading, listening to the radio, cleaning up, and prepping food.

I have not discussed security for OPSEC reasons. If anyone tried to rob us or do us harm, they would have a had very bad day.


The stress of dealing with these situations cannot be underestimated. Prepping for and dealing with the aftermath takes a lot of energy. Sleep and eating schedules are thrown into disarray. For three days prior to the event, I got about three or four hours of sleep per night. The day of landfall, I was up for 36 hours. I ate when I could and not my normal diet. Lack of sleep, a not so great diet, and stress leads to slower reaction time, clouds judgment, increases frustration and irritability. This can be mitigated by paying attention to diet, prepping as much as possible way ahead of ahead of time, and resting whenever possible.
The generator was too loud. There were many generators running in my area, so the noise was not an OPSEC problem. I am working on a solution to quiet the generator down. Solar would be nice, but it is not in my budget.
By the second night of no power, some neighbors were starting to get irritable. This will be a problem for longer events.
Hooking the generator into the panel as stated above worked great. There were no extension cords strewed about the house. It was a good investment and made things easier.
I like outdoor cooking and thought I would cook up some good meals using the camp stove or open fire. That did not happen. I was just too tired. We cooked quick and easy using the grill.
Gas lines started earlier than anticipated. I need to store some extra fuel for the cars.
Government from the state down to the local level did a fantastic job preparing for Irma and managing the aftermath. Their communication was excellent. Local TV and radio were a big help with communication. Critical infrastructure was protected and brought back online quickly and efficiently. There was very little looting in my area and surrounding communities.
We did not lose water or lift stations. It would have been much worse if we had.

Final Thoughts

This was a wake-up call. Sixty miles in the storm track made a huge difference. My preps worked fine for me and my family, but we have some tweaks to make. We only had the inconvenience of not having air-conditioning for few days. We could have gone way longer and in much worse conditions if we had to. However, the neighbors were already on edge and that would have or could have been bad.

Thanks to JWR, HJL, and all who have contributed to SurvivalBlog. I salute those of you who have relocated to the American Redoubt.

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15679 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator

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