I hope everyone is doing as well or better than can be expected. Last week, starting on Tuesday, it became readily apparent that Hurricane Matthew was coming for a visit. It was Thursday before we had a good idea of the type of visit he’d be paying.
We spent the week debating whether to go or stay and ultimately we decided to stay based on a few factors:
- We are all healthy and the chance of our needing emergency assistance for our own well-being was incredibly remote. If you have health problems, sheltering in place can put first responders at risk. Disaster relief shelters may not be a comfortable experience, but it drastically reduces the risk others take on your behalf.
- We do not live on the immediate coast, we’re about 25 miles inland, which doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a significant difference with hurricanes
- Our home is on high (relatively, this is the Lowcountry after all) ground. It would take the storm surge of a category 5 hurricane at high tide to have water on our street.
- Our home is a site built home
- The storm would weaken significantly before nearing our area
For a little while I was unsure of whether staying during the evacuation was legal or not. I grew up here and remember Hurricane Hugo and its aftermath. I also remember the mandatory evacuation orders for those on the barrier islands. They no longer use the term mandatory. We read the order issued by the government carefully before coming to our final (but willing to change if the situation warranted it) decision.
I firmly believe, despite what the media will say, that our governor handled this situation well. I believe calling for the evacuation well ahead of the storm was the right thing to do. For the most part, people were able to leave the area with minimal hassle.
Due to all of the factors I mentioned above, weathering the storm itself wasn’t that bad. For us, the worst of it was wondering if we had made the right choice, I am a worrier, it’s my nature.
Our home had only very minor (a few shingles) damage and we are still dealing with the inconvenience of not having power.
Things I will do before the next approaching storm:
- Stock up on unscented candles. We both even talked about it at the store on Tuesday and got distracted. Our home currently smells overpoweringly like, vanilla, lavender, and who-bought-that-weird-one?
Reminder: Do not use candles during the actual hurricane. Again, first responders do not need to deal with you accidentally setting your house on fire when it’s not safe for them to be out and about. That’s what your battery powered flashlights are for.
- Learn how to start the generator before the power goes out. The generator was new, in box. I knew we needed oil and gas and had both on hand. I figured I am a competent adult, following directions shouldn’t be that hard. I didn’t want to open it up unless we had to, as once you run a generator it needs to be winterized before putting it back into storage and I didn’t want the hassle.
The directions, it turns out, are written for someone intimately familiar with small engines. We did eventually get it figured out, but we were already a bit cranky.
Related: Make sure you can figure out the stupid vapor locks on the gas can. (I know they have an important role, but I find them INCREDIBLY frustrating)
- The UPS I use to protect my desktop computer is very handy as a charging station for cell phones. A big shout-out to Verizon for waving data overages for those in the storm’s path. Ray and I were able to charge our phones three times during the power outage. It was really nice to not worry about. The UPS also charged up quickly when we got the generator going for the refrigerator / freezer.
- Get small bills. The first people to open after a storm don’t want to deal with the hassle of making change.
- Use plastic containers to make MORE large chunks of ice.
- Buy more snacks. You start eating before the storm hits due to nerves, you eat during the storm due to nerves, and after the storm you eat due to boredom. Just check the #CHS twitter community if you think I’m an isolated case.
You also may want to add some protein to the carbs, too. It’s one thing to be bloated and cranky after a movie marathon and very different if you have a lot of yard work to do.
The line about society being 24 hours and two square meals from anarchy isn’t really a stretch. When people are worried and anxious they may also be thoughtless. Don’t take it personally.
Have your blackout pantry in place well before Hurricane Season (or blizzard or tornado) starts. Add to it as needed and stay out of the stores and off the roads as people who don’t think ahead decide to get ready.
Be patient; be kind.
I hope everyone in the Home-Ec 101 Community is safe. I hope the storm was mostly an inconvenience and not a disaster for you. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their homes and families and my heart aches for Haiti.
Related info that might help you: