I am posting my Pantries and Preparedness post early so that it is available before many readers are impacted by Hurricane Irma. Also on Monday my house will be full of tradesmen.
This post is from Kelsey. She recently went through Hurricane Harvey. Being in Texas I imagined Kelsey well inland and never thought she would face a hurricane. Then I got this email from her ...
Just writing to let you know I may be absent for a while. We are right in the path of Hurricane Harvey. Major wind and flooding is expected. I feel prepared, much because of all your preparedness posts so thank you for that. Your prayers would be much appreciated. I will let you know how we are when it is all over or as soon as we have power if it is lost.
With love, Kelsey
Looking online I found Kelsey was one hour inland and her husband was working right on the coast. So we had some emails go back and forth. I am including these bits which were as Kelsey prepared for what they knew was coming....
Thank you, Annabel. I am online now keeping track of the storm. It is about to make landfall. It is not bad where I am yet and my husband says where he is it is completely safe. Still I am concerned. Thousands are already without power in Corpus.
I have lots of water. I have even filled our plastic trash can with water just in case. Also our pantry is full and I will ration as needed. I set our refrigerator on the coldest setting so it will stay cold just a little longer in case we lose power, which I am expecting to happen. Freezers will stay closed. Really I have so many of your preparedness posts and comments from the ladies running through my mind and it has helped a lot. I got all the laundry done, dishes washed, disposables ready, etc. Phone is staying on the charger, flashlights on hand, John's diaper bag full of necessities so we can stay in the hallway, which is the middle of the house. This thing is big, the biggest Texas has seen in a long time. Certainly in my lifetime. I will let you know once it passes how we are. Though it is supposed to stall and stay over us for days. Then they are predicting it will move north and then swoop back down over us again.
Yes, you are right. This really makes preparedness real and I am already seeing I would like to be more organized about it. Sorry this email is so scatter-brained lol. I'm trying to type fast!
This next bit was after the storm...
Houston is a few hours away from me. Yes, they got hit hard. My sister lives there and although she is ok, she knows many who lost everything. Houston is I think the second largest port in the U.S.. Then of course Corpus is also a major port though not as big. And there are oil refineries all up the coast line. Already the grocery store shelves are bare. We went to the store last night and they had signs up all over saying, "Sorry, out of stock." People from our surrounding areas are shopping at this store as theirs are either simply gone or out of stock also. There are gas stations, too, that are out of gas.
I have learned so much from Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath, both about my situation and that of other people. First, I am thankful for everyone's prayers and that my loved ones are safe. Colton, John, and I still have a roof over our heads. Many do not. We also have electricity. Thousands and thousands of people don't have it yet with no promise of when it will be back on. And this is just in the neighboring counties! If Harvey had hit Corpus as was predicted I probably would not be able to write this. Instead it hit about half an hour's drive north of Corpus.
Before Harvey hit, many people of course headed to the grocery store to prepare. I felt like our pantry was full enough that we could get by for a long time if needed. But we went to the store on Wednesday (the hurricane made landfall on Friday night) as is our usual shopping routine to pick up a few items for my husband's lunches. Wow! The water aisle was wiped clean and the checkout lines were backed up all the way into the aisles. I can't tell you how long I waited to buy lunch meat, two loaves of bread, and bananas! I was glad I was prepared food wise.
One of the things I was most concerned about was water. I just knew we would lose electricity (it goes out at our house even during a light rain shower) and without it we can't get water. To me, water is the most important thing. We had lots of bottled water and my husband came home from work with an extra case too. Still I felt it was not enough. I think the recommendation is one gallon per person per day. And I know I drink a lot as I am breastfeeding! (I'm so glad I persevered through those struggles! I knew John was taken care of as far as eating!) So I filled jugs, empty mason jars, buckets, trashcans, anything basically that could hold water. We have a Berkey water filter, so if it came down to it, I could use that to filter some of the more yucky water (like from the trashcan). I just kept thinking if I was thirsty I would wish I had filled more things with water! Our house doesn't have a bathtub or I would have filled that up too! Thankfully we never lost electricity but I was prepared.
All things considered, one area I do need to improve on is an evacuation plan. I need to write this up and have a list of things to take, a list of places to go, and a list of phone numbers in case it is not safe for me to stay. Things could have been a LOT worse for us here. I'm not much on taking unnecessary risks. Every situation is different, but I may not want to stay next time. I am amazed at some of the people who stayed along the coast even under mandatory evacuations. It is their right to do so, but it puts not only them in danger but also the first responders who have to go rescue them. In Rockport where the hurricane hit, the city officials told the people who didn't evacuate to write their social security numbers on their arms so their bodies could be identified afterwards! Yes, I would definitely leave!!!
Anyway, before Harvery hit, I was busy about the house washing ALL the laundry and making sure all the dishes were done. Disposables, matches, candles, flashlights, etc were accounted for. The animals were fed and had a sufficient supply of food. I packed John's diaper bag and then basically sat down to watch the news and wait.
Harvey hit at night. It was dark and so we couldn't see anything, only hear. John and I slept in the hallway in the middle of the house where there were no windows. I say slept, I didn't sleep! I prayed, had a few catnaps here and there, watched John like a hawk, and streamed the news live through my phone. The local station had continual coverage and I could tell those poor reporters were sleeping at the station. I kept waiting for the electricity to go off or to hear glass breaking or something!
Kelsey's home was fine and they were all safe. What an experience to go through. Especially I think with a young baby.
With Hurricane Irma coming in I asked Kelsey if she had time to write up anything else she thinks is important while it is still fresh in her mind and she kindly wrote the following:
1. Prepare well beforehand. You never know when things like this are going to happen. With hurricanes we have a fair bit of warning, but even preparing a few days in advance is not going to get you as far as if you implement preparedness as a lifestyle. Even though I felt prepared, I kept going through my mind wondering if there was anything else I needed to do. In situations like these, you often don't think as clearly, so it's better to have everything ready before you get to that point! This also prevents you from waiting in long check out lines, facing a shortage of goods, and potentially paying higher prices when supply is low and demand is high. I know one lady who went out a couple days before Harvey hit and bought $300 worth of groceries. I couldn't help but think how much further her money would have gotten her if she had practiced frugal grocery shopping and stocking up throughout the year as opposed to all at once and in a panic.
2. Because there are shortages before and after disasters, be prepared to ration. You can't expect to eat like normal and not run out of food fairly quickly, especially if you are feeding a lot of people or children. Children might get upset because you tell them they can't have this or that snack, but it would be worse if by day 5 you have nothing left at all to give them. This goes for water and also fuel, whether it be for transportation, energy, or cooking.
3. Keep your refrigerator and freezer at the coldest setting and don't open them if the power goes out. I know we all know this, but I felt like I had to police our appliances in case anybody forgot and out of habit went to grab something. Because we stock up during sales, our two deep freezes were full (if they were not, I would have added water jugs to freeze and act as ice packs) and this would mean hundreds of dollars in food waste if things didn't stay cold. For this reason also, a generator is high on our priority list along with fuel to power it.
3. Still on the topic of food, be sure you have a way to eat what you have. If you have lots of canned goods, make sure you have a manual can opener. After Harvey I have decided not to declutter my two spares! Also be sure you have disposable plates, cups, utensils, etc. When water is precious, you don't want to waste it washing dishes. Also remember that, while having dry goods like rice and beans are great to have in your pantry (we have these in bulk), they may not always be practical to cook during an emergency due to how much water it requires to cook them. I'd rather open a can of something and save my water for drinking.
4. Having a baby adds a whole new dimension to preparedness. Talk about feeling like a protective Mama bear! John was my main concern throughout the whole thing and I would have done whatever I could to keep him safe! As for feeding him, I breastfeed him directly so I didn't have to worry about him eating. (Except I knew I needed to stay hydrated and have lots of food for myself!) For other mothers who use bottles, I would say be sure to have a way to wash them. If you pump, it would be a good idea to have a manual one on hand and don't rely on the breast milk you have stored in the freezer in case the power goes out. If you formula feed, have lots of extra cans on hand and enough water to make up the bottles. You know how much your baby eats so prepare accordingly. Your baby is the most important thing and top priority. We also cloth diaper but I have a lot of disposables on hand also. I never want to be stuck washing John's dirty diapers by hand lol! Plus that takes more water. I'm really big on the water thing if you can't tell!
5. Don't depend on other people to help you. If you can get help, great, but don't rely on so and so to take care of you. Prepare yourself because most people won't. I was amazed at the attitudes of people I knew who thought this wasn't really a big deal. Though we didn't experience any damage, we COULD have, and I wasn't about to take any chances. Many people lost everything and like I said, it could have been a lot worse for us personally. This goes for if you need to evacuate as well. If you need to get out, please find a way to get out beforehand. If you don't have a place to stay, go to a shelter. My husband spent Thursday loading people on buses evacuating people, so I know buses were provided by the city. If you decide to stay, be ready to fend for yourself. Once the winds reach a certain speed, EMS and fire are no longer running for the safety of the first responders. So if you need help, you have to wait until its over.
6. You have talked about this before, but make sure you have any medications you need. The pharmacy will be closed.
7. Keep lines of communication open. Know where your loved ones are and what their plans are during the storm and what they will do in case of the "what ifs". I was in communication with my husband, my neighbor, my mom, and my friends in the next county. I kept my phone constantly on the charger so I talked with them the whole time, but if we lost power, I could stop (limit the texts) in order to save my phone battery and still know what everybody was doing.
8. I know some of the ladies have mentioned having a form of entertainment during things like this. I would agree this is helpful especially with children and keeping things relatively calm. I was nervous and tense. I am the only entertainment John needs right now, but if he was older I definitely would need to occupy him and keep a sense of calm. If mom's calm, surely there's no need to worry.
9. Many people in hurricane prone areas already know this, but take a walk around your property and put away or tie down anything that can blow away. You would be surprised what wind can do to even the heaviest objects if strong enough. Large trucks can entirely turn over. That means your bbq pit can too. Trim trees, board up or tape windows, whatever you need to do to prevent damage to your home and keep yourself safe. Obviously stay away from the windows.
10. Have a way to know what's going on. I streamed the news live through my phone because I had electricity to keep it charged. On my preparedness list is a battery operated radio because I'm not sure we have one! After Harvey had passed our area, many radio stations had the phone lines open for callers to report any road closures, trees down, power poles down, etc. so people could be aware of road hazards and power outages. They also called in with tips on dealing with no electricity so this was helpful.
11. Pesticides. I do not like poisons, chemicals, etc. but I also don't like disease carrying mosquitos. This was not something I had thought about until we ran into a relative buying pesticides for her daughter who lives in a flooded area. She said the mosquitos were starting to get very bad. I would have a way to keep them off my body if nothing else and a way to treat bites.
12. Keep some cash on hand. People like it and there's no electricity required!
13. Think long-term, not just a day or two ahead. People are going to be without power for weeks. Schools are shut down indefinitely. Businesses are closed or destroyed, and shelves are empty. Prepare to do without for a long time.
Kelsey also said "thank you to all the Bluebirds for your prayers for our safety, it means a lot to me" and I certainly know a lot of people were praying. Now with Hurricane Irma there are too many readers here plus others in some groups I am in to list. Well, I am fearful to name them incase I miss someone, but many have already mentioned in comments who is in the path. So pray for them all and everyone.
As you know neither Kelsey or me are experts in this. Kelsey is sharing her experience and that is so valuable. We all have to adapt to our own situation, evacuate if need to, follow the advice of authorities and listen for instructions. Once the window of time has closed do not venture out or take any risks!
Thank you so much Kelsey for sharing this information and for taking the time to write this all up when you are so busy and this is all still affecting your area. And with a baby as well!
If you have experience and tips please add them and also once this hurricane passes please let us know you are ok! Many prayers and much love. xxx