Just when we were breathing easier because Hurricane Fay decided not to visit us with much wind or rain along comes Gustav. Currently this storm appears to be heading straight for us, but as all the weather forecasters keep saying, 5 days in the future is too far to predict with a storm. However, now is the time we start making preparations.
When hurricanes are coming our way the first thing we must decide is whether to stay or evacuate. Our family usually stays for. . ,a Category 1 or 2, but anything higher we leave. This is the chart they use to rate these storms.
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind speed
5 ≥156 mph
4 131–155 mph
3 111–130 mph
2 96–110 mph
1 74–95 mph
We have stayed in our home for a high Category 2 storm-it is scary but we were safe. So we won’t be leaving unless Gustav gains wind speed and gets upgraded to a Category 3.
A friend who does not live in hurricane alley was asking about the preparations we make, so I thought I would share.
Thinking of evacuating makes you take a new look at the things you feel are important to you. As we go through our normal routine we jot down things we don’t want to forget-cell phone chargers, important documents (insurance papers and financial records), computers and back-up hard drives, and on and on. The list continues to grow and when we actually get ready to pack the car we will have to weed out things that don’t fit.
One thing that my friend found interesting was that we don’t bring many clothes. Clothing is relatively cheap and easy to replace and the limited space in the car can be used for more important or more expensive things.
We learned a lot about preparations from Hurricane Katrina-how unprepared we really were. When all electricity is knocked out in the area there are no gas stations, no grocery stores, no fast food, nothing. You are entirely responsible for making sure you have what is necessary to survive.
When we realized this after Katrina ( while we were still evacuated) we had to purchase 5 gallon gas cans. When we returned home, to an area entirely without electricity, we had to have enough gas to make the trip and return far enough so we could purchase more gas. In our situation that is 20 extra gallons. So when we evacuate we put 4 full, 5 gallon gas cans on top of our vehicle. If we get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic we will have enough gas to get us through and we will also be prepared for the trip home.
Probably one of the most important things we consider is what will we need when we return home. We did not plan very well for Katrina and when we headed home we waited until we got too far south to purchase ice and bread. Again when the entire area is devastated no one has these things and Katrina’s devastation reached so far north that we were totally unprepared. This time we will purchase what we need before we head home.
As I write this Gustav is still by Jamaica and it may never come here, but living in this area has taught us the importance of being prepared and that is what we are trying to do.