Friday, November 4, 2016

Lessons from Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew tore its way up the coast of Florida last month. By all accounts we should have been hit a lot harder than we were. The following news clip is real!

Fortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of damage for us. Something shifted last minute and the predicted "catastrophic damage" became days long power outages and tons of downed trees. My biggest annoyance was that I was without cable and internet for several days. However, I don't think the community was as prepared as we could have been. I hope you (and I!) never have to experience a massive hurricane. But if we do, let's do it right. Here are a few things I learned:
  • Watch the news. Our local newscasters were thrilled to share news of the approaching storm. (I actually think they were disappointed that there wasn't more damage.) Anyone paying attention knew the storm was coming and had time to prepare. Surprising, too many people didn't.
  • Know your zone. My city has flood zones and evacuation zones. Days before the storm hit the mayor started evacuating people by zone letter. First A, then B, and finally C. I can't tell you how many residents didn't even know which zone they were in.
  • Buy supplies early. Ideally, you'll have a hurricane kit ready to go. But to be honest, we haven't had a major hurricane in a dozen years and many of us have become complacent. The news reported outages of gas and bottled water for days leading up to the storm. Bread, batteries and plywood were also hard to find.
  • Stock up for your pets too. Make sure there is enough food and water for the animals as well as people. Don't forget regular medicines, treats, leashes and poop bags. Pull out your carriers and vet paperwork in case you have to leave suddenly.
  • If you're going to evacuate, plan ahead and leave early. Hotels away from the storm route fill up quickly. It's even harder to find one if you're traveling with animals. I have a pair of friends who left the area with five German shepherds between them. My friends said they called 30 hotels in Georgia before they found one that would accept their pets.
  • Research the shelters beforehand. My city is proud to say that there are several pet-friendly shelters available for residents. It sounds great until you read the fine print. Jedi is not allowed because he's intact. Drogo would have to stay behind because no reptiles are allowed either.
  • Crate train! All shelters and most hotels insist that animals are kept crated. My son has a friend who was going to evacuate but had to change plans because his not-so-dog-friendly pit bull had never been in a crate before. He didn't even own one (and we didn't have a spare to lend him).
  • Stay inside until the storm is over. This should be a given, but there are always dumbasses and thrill seekers who want to see what's going on. The evil voice in my head wants to see more of this:

The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't end for another month. I'm hoping we don't get a late storm, but if we do I'd like to think that I'm prepared. I hope you are too. -- K

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