Florida Hurricane Preparation

Those of us who live in hurricane “territory” know that June 1st through November 30th is hurricane season.  If you have read my “About” page then you know that my family lived in Homestead, FL when Hurricane Andrew flattened the south end of Dade County, Florida.  As a matter of fact, the eye of Andrew pretty much went right over our house!

When you go through an event like this it can often help to have a sense of humor.  And so, some time after Andrew, the following began circulating via e-mail between those of us who had the dubious honor of participating in one of the worst national disasters to ever hit the United States.  In light of the fact that today begins the 2010 hurricane season, I am offering this humorous look at hurricane preparation.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

P.S. I have no idea who may have first written this article, and I’m sure as it has made the rounds it has been edited by many (including me).  I certainly am not trying to take credit for something that someone else has written…so don’t credit me with this!

I trust you are already aware of what you need to do to be prepared for a hurricane, but in case you need a refresher course, keep in mind the following:

Any minute now, you are going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blobs out in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological points:

1) There is no need to panic.
2) We could all die.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to live in Florida!

If you’re new to the area, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we will be hit by “the big one.”

Based on insurance industry experts, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

Step 1:  Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family at least three days.
Step 2:  Put these supplies into your car.
Step 3:  Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan.  Most people will foolishly stay in Florida.

Therefore, we are offering the following advice towards you having a “successful” hurricane season:

HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance.  Fortunately, the insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

1) It is reasonably well-built; AND
2) It is located in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance because then they might actually have to pay you money, and that is NOT why they got into the insurance business in the first place.  So you’ll have to scrounge around for an insurance company which will charge you an annual premium roughly equivalent to the replacement value of your house.  At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.

SHUTTERS:  Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows and doors.  There are several types of shutters, each with their own particular advantages and disadvantages:

Plywood shutters:  The advantage is you can make them yourself so they’re cheap.  The disadvantage is that in high winds they can peel off and become “debris,” a very bad word in hurricane lexicon.

Sheet-metal shutters:  The advantage is that these work well, once you get them up.  The disadvantage is that by the time you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleedings stumps, and it will be December.

Roll-down shutters:  These shutters work great!  And they are very easy to use.  Unfortunately, you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

Hurricane-proof windows:  These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection; they look like ordinary windows but can withstand very high hurricane-strength winds!  You can be sure of this because the salesman says so.  He lives in Nebraska.

HURRICANE–PROOFING YOUR PROPERTY:

As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc.  You should, as a precaution, throw these items into the swimming pool (if you don’t have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately).  Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.

EVACUATION ROUTE:

If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out.  To determine if you live in a low-lying area, check your driver’s license and if it says “Florida,” you live in a low-lying area.  The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits.  Instead you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees.  So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

HURRICANE SUPPLIES:

If you don’t evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies.  Do not buy them now!  Florida tradition demands that you wait until the last possible moment, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of cat food (even people who don’t own cats will fight over the cat food).  In addition to food and water, you will need:

  • 23 flashlights and at least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
  • Bleach (no, I don’t know what the bleach is for, NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it’s traditional, so get some!)
  • A big knife that you can strap to your leg (it’s useless in a hurricane, but it looks really cool).
  • A large quantity of raw chicken to placate the alligators.  (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane there will be a lot of irate alligators.)
  • $35,000 in cash and diamonds so that after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course, these are just basic precautions.  As the hurricane draws nearer, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television to watch TV reporters in rain slickers standing next to the ocean tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everyone to stay away from the ocean.

GOOD LUCK!  AND REMEMBER: IT’S GREAT LIVING IN PARADISE!

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  • This was so funny! Now I really feel like I'm missing out by living in Wisconsin where all we have is tornadoes, blizzards, and silly cheesehead hats. Then again, homeowner's insurance is cheap 🙂

  • annegalivan

    I am glad you liked it! I think every part of the country has its own special “disasters” – if it's not hurricanes, it's tornadoes, or earthquakes or blizzards or any combination of above. I have to admit though, in Tallahassee we don't have any “cheeseheads” – we just have the Tomahawk Chop!

  • Grandmary18

    Anne, move a little southeast and you can have the Gator Chomp!!
    I didn't suffer with Andrew, but in 2004 my county got 3 hurricanes in 6 weeks. We couldn't believe it when 2 weeks later there was no more storms. We still get really pale-faced when we hear the names Charlie, Jeanne or Frances!!

  • annegalivan

    Well considering we are diehard Seminole fans here, it isn't likely we will be doing the Gator Chomp anytime soon! 🙂

    I can relate to how you feel about those storms. Shortly after we moved to Tallahassee a Category 4 storm was headed towards the panhandle. We freaked out, packed up, and headed to my mom's in Melbourne. Fortunately, the storm weakened considerably before making landfall, and I can now see that we over-reacted, but at the time it didn't seem that way!