Hurricane Preparedness and You
Sometimes in life the day to day demands and responsibilities are so much that we often fail to stop and evaluate the internal realities of where we actually stand. What we are required to do and what we must do often gets intertwined and things are assumed and overlooked. The difference between “required” and “must” is the laws of the land vs laws of human survival.
I live in constant preparedness mode. And one of the major responsibilities in preparedness is risk analysis. What is the potential risk in most things we do? What am I talking about? Well, we already do many things to prepare and really don’t realize it. We sleep to rest. What is the result of not sleeping? The inability to function. That is the risk of not sleeping. We eat to fuel our body. If we don’t eat, we are unable to function. We are required by law to obtain home insurance. Health insurance. Car insurance. And in many coastal areas flood insurance and hurricane insurance. If we don’t obtain these insurances what happens? Damages to our home aren’t paid for. Our car may not be repaired or replaced. We may not be able to obtain proper health care. Tracking? The risk is too high not to obtain these insurances to protect our family and self.
But, what is the most needed item to keep us functioning and alive? We must have food and water. On average a human can survive three days with no water and roughly a week with no food. We must have or be able to obtain food and water to survive. FEMA says we should maintain a three day stock of food and water in our home. Really? I will address below.
The United States has been using a “just in time” supply system for several years. That means there is minimal stock, if any, available in the back of stores, fuel tanks, pharmacies, … This means most basic commodities are now a 72 hour basic supply for the community. Consider 70% of all commodities are moved by truck. So, if the trucks stop rolling, after the 72 hour period, nothing is left. This means significant shortages will occur in as little as three days, especially for perishable items following a national emergency. You can go back in a short history of natural disasters in America (West Virginia floods, Puerto Rico Hurricane, Eastern Texas Hurricane Harvey and floods, California, Oregon, Colorado, Montana wildfires, Pennsylvania floods, and Hurricane Florence) and case after case individuals are impacted by hurricanes, fires, and floods. And in the short history you can find a repeated story of individual’s left stranded, homeless, and without the ability to be self-reliant. On average, roughly 10% of the citizens in the impacted area will not evacuate for different reasons. Maybe by choice. Or for medical reasons or socio-economics. Bottom line is they remain behind. Now, this is not a “finger pointing” session. It is a simple lesson in preparedness. Where does that leave you?
Hurricane Florence appeared in the Atlantic region. Once a region was identified as the projected landfall, meteorologist; emergency services, along with state and federal government agencies started broadcasting the threat and for citizens in the region to start preparing their escape. Mandatory evacuations and the beat of danger drums continued. Citizens got a five day advance notice of what was coming and yet many opted to stay put. Now we can conduct another discussion on how this decision puts emergency responders in danger.
So five days out folks are told to “get out” of the area. This means the first run on stocked food, water, fuel, cash and meds evaporated quickly. A few days later the hurricane is near landfall and many towns begin to place curfews and mandatory restrictions in place. Needed items are now depleted. Still, citizens remained. The hurricane arrives and aside from the projected wind, the massive levels of rainfall begins. Quickly water levels rise, roads become flooded and families are stranded in their homes with rising water. The calls for help begins. Realize roads to several towns are now impassible and flooded. The only way in or out is by boat until the hurricane winds subside a few days later. Remember, the three day supply of food and water is now on day three. On day five…six…a week, roads are still impassible and the three day supply of food is four days expired. And, those who remained behind and had to be rescued, left their possessions behind. They are now totally dependent on the system to care for them. This is not a bad thing for many because it’s the only option they had. Really?
Preparedness. Consider this. Had these folks known about the “5-5-5” plan of preparedness, how many of them may have chosen the path of self-reliance? Think about it, the five second, five minute, and five hour plan prepares citizens for the a quick and planned escape from their home during an emergency. A risk analysis of the potential threat will determine which option of the “5-5-5” plan a family will use. Hurricane Florence afforded impacted citizens more than the “5-5-5” planning period. Try five days. In five days, a family should have more than ample time to put together a plan and prepare. The wise choice is to evacuate as directed. And when you evacuate you have your personal Ready Bag or Bug-Out bag packed with some form of food and water. And, if you really prepare you have packed some of your ten day supply of food in plastic totes or something similar, taped it closed and set it up as a floating daisy chain to pull behind you while walking or floating. Not impossible. But, let’s talk about the families remaining behind. What are you going to eat and drink if you didn’t prepare? Can you filter water through a water filtration system? Or boil it? With what? It is unlikely water purification tablets will be available to the family that didn’t prepare. Food? Your three day supply ran out. What are you going to feed your family? We haven’t even talked about the trucks and resupply not being able to get shelves restocked in stores or the time it takes to restore electricity. Wilmington, N.C. was surrounded by water. Remember, the roads are closed. So now what? Think about it, a five day warning was provided to citizens to prepare. Do you have a preparedness plan to engage?
For those unable to fund their personal preparedness, consider internal options to adjust expenditures to increase available monthly funds. Cancel your newspaper subscription; turn off the cable for a month, six months, or longer; consolidate cell phones used in a home, terminate the hard line phone, eat out one less time per week, when possible walk more and use less gas …. We are talking about adjusting a life style for a brief period to obtain funding to prepare for what may save your life. Food and water. A decision between convenience vs life safety is a no brainer. Right?
Now do you understand why the recommended “seven day” supply of food and water is insufficient? Seven is better than none, however a thorough risk analysis of the situation should prove a ten day supply is needed. Do you really want to be in the stores with the other ten percent fighting over the last loaf of bread? Or, waiting in line for fuel when the wait is slow and with long lines and the unknown availability. ATMs? They are probably empty or else flooded out. Medicine will probably remain unavailable until the local pharmacy reopens. Do you keep copies of your most critical documents (deeds, titles, medical, social security cards, passports, birth certificates, digital pictures) on a thumb drive or external storage device and available in a backpack to travel with you always? And I ask, why does the ice cream cooler empty during a crisis when the electricity is off? Hmmm.
Building a preparedness plan for your home, transit and work is critical today. Remember all the insurances talked about above? Which one provided the most important survival needs during this period? Zero. So why do citizens ignore or fail to secure the most important basics?
If you have not prepared don’t fret it. Start today. Begin with a 10 day supply of the basics. What must you have, not want, to survive a ten day period? If you have questions or need help, visit www.ready.gov for information and checklist to start your plan. Or, contact the nearest readiness supply store in your area. If you are located in region impacted by Hurricane Florence I would recommend Carolina Readiness Supply in Waynesville, NC. Ms Jan and Mr Bill can guide you through the basic needs. They can be reached at 828-456-5310 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with questions or for help. I go in to greater detail on preparedness in my book, Hope For Survival – How Preparing Food, Water, Shelter, and Security Could Save Your Life. You can order a book on the website front page or contact me to arrange a purchase.
Remember, you want to be self-reliant and not trapped without the ability to survive. When you fail to prepare you are now a number in the system with all the other citizens who couldn’t, didn’t or wouldn’t evacuate before hazardous conditions took control of your situation. You are no longer in control.
So now is the time to pull out your hurricane plan and checklist and start preparing for this hurricane season. The prediction is for 12 and we have 11 to go, if correct. Dust off your plan and make adjustments to it as needed. Have your resources available and packed ready to bug out when the order is given. Add your cash and a full tank of fuel. Consider getting ahead of the evacuation order, if possible, and be ahead of the masses. Just like you would any other event. Separate yourself from the 90% gang and be part of the self-reliant 10% group.
What say you?
Be Blessed and Safe,
Bravo Echo Out