If you like getting several inches of rain in a day and trying to drive – or walk – through 100 mile per hour winds, the Mexican Gulf was the place to be in 2017. While no meteorologist can say for certain whether or not next year will be quite as interesting, hurricanes are certainly a part of life in Florida, and everyone living here should plan ahead and take a couple of reasonable precautions.
If you are less physically capable in any way, this becomes doubly important. Not even olympic athletes will be able to make their way outside when it’s really coming down or the streets are flooded, but even much more benign conditions can be enough to make traveling in a wheelchair or on crutches impossible. Public transport may be one of the first things to stop working, and Hurricane Katrina certainly showed us all that the federal government’s ability to help those who don’t help themselves is pretty limited.
Everybody likes to think that the worst won’t happen to them, or at least that the rest of Florida will be enough to shield Levy County from storms approaching from the Atlantic. In fact, just two months ago, even the county’s emergency manager couldn’t convince his own wife to leave for Irma, which may have been the cause for one of the biggest I-told-you-so’s in that particular marriage.
The elderly, especially, are often slow to leave their homes. When someone has lived through much worse and grown attached to their home over the last few decades, this is understandable. Nevertheless, it’s important to at least know where assistance will be available and keep an eye on any warnings. It’s also worthwhile to keep in touch with friends and family to let them know where you are and if you’re leaving, in case one of them has to come and get you.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Whether you leave or plan to ride out the storm at home, supplies will be limited and stores won’t be delivering. It’s therefore advisable to keep a flashlight, some batteries, a portable gas stove, any chronic medication you need, preserved food and so forth on hand. These supplies shouldn’t be used just because you’ve run out of something in the kitchen, and their suitability checked before every storm season.
Something that many people don’t think about is the need for water when your driveway has become a river. In fact, this is one of the main dangers of flooding: all of that water will probably have come into contact with raw sewage, animal carcasses and assorted pathogens. Storing a gallon per person per day is not unreasonable.
Invest in Technology
While it might be tempting to wear a skeleton suit and simply hoof it to higher ground, everybody’s budget will not stretch quite that far.
However, even if you’re unable to leave under your own power and emergency services are overwhelmed, there are a couple of gadgets that can help you survive and even keep you comfortable. One of the most innovative is called the Lifestraw, which enables you to drink safely from virtually any contaminated water source.
The next most important thing to think about is communication. Cell towers and landlines can’t be counted on to survive if a really big storm hits, but a battery-powered or wind-up radio can keep you informed about events in the world at large and how long you might have to wait for rescue. If you’re willing to learn the technical side, a CB radio can also turn out to be worth its weight in gold, or you can pay somewhere over $1,000 for a satellite phone, which doesn’t require cell service to work.