Hurricane Questions from an Island Newbie
Okay, it seems like a good time to start asking some questions. August will be my one year mark for living on STT, and of course I made it through last hurricane season (since there weren't any hurricanes) without having to think much about it. But, from all those who have weathered the big storms... beyond the basics what are some other things that are must haves for making it through the storm and the days following. Here is a list of things I have already:
4 cases of bottled water
Non perishable food for 7 days
Keep my car gas tanks full
Being from Oklahoma I'm used to tornadoes. Do you take cover in your home the same way you do for tornadoes? Does this mean I sit in my bathtub for hours and hours?
Just an FYI, I do live in a very secure concrete apartment building with hurricane "resistant" windows. It was damaged in Marilyn but not totally blown away.
In the end, I just don't want to be thinking of these things when the storm is at my doorstep.
I'm glad you asked, I'm new too and other than trying to keep my 6 gallons of water filled,I haven't done much. I have some rice,3 different bags of beans & tomato sauce. I live in a condo that wll put up hurricane shuters at the warning of a storm,I have portable charging flashights plugged in all the time, but I'm also right on the water.
Don;t worry about Bertha this system is already near STT Latitude and thousands of miles away this means is going well north us. I grew up in the caribbean always worry when they are south of St maarten then worry a little bit. I don't think we will get one this year. Mainlanders are always worry about hurricanes understand that construction in the Virgin islands and Puerto rico is tougher than any other area in the US. In the case of Puerto rico most of the roofs are concrete.
Bags of rice and bags of beans won't do you much good if you don't have electricity or gas to cook them. If you have gas for cooking, then get CANS of already cooked beans, that you just have to heat up quickly or better yet, eat cold. Pork and beans are great! Get some Vienna Sausage, Spam, Corned beef in the can, basically canned anything. And, whatever you do, don't forget the manual can opener! I grew up in the hurricane belt, and we always had plenty of this stuff in the pantry. It may not be healthy, but it ain't bad, if that's what you've got!
I know I need to cook the beans and rice,luckliy I am well schooled in soaking beans and campfire cooking-I grew up mostly in Idaho,did a lot camping,I'm not afraid of going primative for a few days or even weeks. So, I'm not a primadonna who must have gourmet. But any suggetions are gladly accepted.
I'm not worried about Bertha, however I do want to be prepared for other storms that might happen. Being from Oklahoma storm preparation was a yearly thing also.
I have a gas grill with a burner, and I bought two extra tanks for it to be able to cook since I have an electric stove. I mainly I'm assuming you lock down all the windows, bring everything you can inside, stay away from windows, move to the part of your house that is furthermost away from the force of the wind. Such as if the storm is coming from the east don't take shelter in rooms facing east. Such as I plan on staying in my hallway (which is in the center of my apartment) with the interior doors shut, or in my bathroom that faces west into a high retaining wall. I have to assume this is a good plan. Or, do you just kinda hang out in your house?
Also, I heard it can be very hot in the house during a storm. I'm thinking a battery powered fan?
And last question, I'm thinking a big storm will last 6 to 8 hours with the worst part being 3 to 4 hours. Is that about right?
And by the way, all you island old timers stop laughing at me. lol
I'm not an islander (yet), but I lived in New Orleans for 4 years, including Hurricane Katrina. I prepared my house for a handful of hurricanes and spent Katrina in the hospital where I worked.
Water is obviously a good thing to have around... lots of it, especially if you're going to be using it for cooking. Keep some baby wipes around for cleaning hands and other essential body parts. Alcohol-free hand sanitizer will also help you avoid using water for cleaning. Paper plates and plastic utensils are essential. Don't forget about toilet paper, and consider keeping extra trash bags and kitty litter around in case the toilets don't work.
As for food, if you're not a "must have a hot meal" kind of person, you might be better off just keeping a stash of thing like granola bars, dried fruit, etc. Don't forget about pet food and baby food/formula. If you have canned food, make sure you have a non-electric can opener. A neighbor in New Orleans made that mistake. Oops.
In New Orleans, when a hurricane was on the way, the home improvement stores were clogged with people trying to buy plywood to put over their windows. I don't know if the VI is the same way, but if so, get your plywood NOW and go ahead and measure and cut it so you can just slap it up there. (Use the little black grippy things they sell, so you don't have to put nails in your house. They really do work.) That will save you a ton of time... hurricanes don't wait for the weekend to allow you to prepare. Putting tape on the windows doesn't work... don't bother.
A battery-powered radio is a good idea, as well as battery-powered stuff to do (and, like you said, batteries!)... DVD viewer, etc. And books for when the sun's up. Waiting out a hurricane, especially if you're stuck for a week afterwards like I was, is BORING. Consider getting some toys for the kids and keeping them hidden so that they're "new" and will occupy them longer than their old toys... that also keeps their spirits up. Also, keep your cell phone charged so that when the service starts to work again, your phone will actually work. Cell service might come back before electricity does. If you have a million friends and family, set up a phone tree beforehand so you won't use all of your minutes and battery power talking to everyone you know. I used my family's website to keep in touch until the hurricane actually hit, and then I was out of luck... no cell service in New Orleans for ages after the hurricane, but I was lucky enough to be able to use the emergency phone at the hospital. (They had these red phones on each floor that never worked, so we didn't know what they were for, but after the hurricane, they all worked, and you could even call long distance.)
Have a basic first aid kit on hand, as well as any medications you use regularly. Remember, most bleeding can be stopped if you hold pressure on the wound for 5-10 minutes (that means no peeking to see if it's stopped yet).
I'm not sure what the potential for flooding on the island is, but since New Orleans is basically a hole in the ground, I used to move everything up off the floor (and out of the lower kitchen cabinets, etc.), and I put "shoes" on the furniture that was too big to move... for example, I put four buckets on the floor and put one leg of the dining room table inside each bucket to keep the water from getting to them. I also took my car to work and parked it on the 4th floor of the garage, near the middle. If it had been in my driveway, I might have been buying a new car.
Other random things that are good to have around are stuff like a shovel, duct tape, basic tools, matches, candles, flashlights, etc.
We actually stood at the window and watched the hurricane, but that was in a hospital in a hurricane-prone city, so it was probably a strong window. 🙂 I don't know if you necessarily have to hide in the bathroom, but I wouldn't hang out right by the window if it's a strong storm. If a window breaks, get under a mattress... there isn't much that can get through that and hurt you.
The worst part, for me, was not the storm itself, but all the hours and hours and days and days of waiting afterwards. Although I wasn't at home, I would have had a similar experience at home... waiting for the power to come on, waiting for the trees to be cleared to allow a car down the road, etc. Think of what you'd need if you couldn't leave your house for a few days, and think of what you'd do if you lost all modern conveniences, then stock up based on that. Just use common sense before, during, and after the storm. If it looks like it's going to be a huge one, get out. As the world now knows, that was the biggest mistake a lot of people in New Orleans made.
Sigh... this is encouraging me even more to build one of those concrete dome houses. 🙂 Anybody have one?
thankyou so much for your story, I loved it! I'm w/you on the dome house thing,lets build a whole subdivision! I've never been through a hurricane so I can only guess. However I have been in major blizzards and had contact to the outside world cut off,pipes frozen(no water) ,no heat because the heat was taken out by the storm (electrical and/or gas),snow blown up to the eves and piled up to and over stop signs(good thing in one of the storms we had a snowmobile) Having been through this more than 2--8 times there is nothing as bad as being in -30 w/o a wood stove,after a couple of hours even 20 blankets doesn't get you warm-I HATE bieng cold (hmm wonder why I moved to the islands? I'll have to get back w/u on that one) g-night everyone.
Fill your bathtub with water! Get cash!
That's what I've heard, I'm also a newbie.
Definitely get cash & first aid supplies. It's really easy to get cuts & scratches once you can get out of your place. Make sure you have a lighter so you can light your candles, camp stoves, etc. Many fewer people smoke so that can be something people forget these days. I spent Marilyn huddled on an inside bathroom floor while the roof blew away & the wind sucked out all my possessions. Somebody made a huge mistake on our hill & cut the phone lines that were down to clear the road. That set back getting phone service back for months so don't touch any wires that are down (plus you might get electrocuted.) Also make sure you have water for any pets you have & make sure you have flea & tick stuff for them. The ticks are especially fierce after a storm. Mosquito repellant is important too even if you don't usually get bitten. Lots of Dengue after Marilyn & you don't want that along with everything else that happens. One thing we should have done was remove our screens before the storm. Ours were left up & were all blown away. Had we stashed them, we at least would have had screens for the windows that were blown out.
Stocking up on reading material, TP, paper towels & batteries for everything are essential as well as a battery-operated radio. There will probably be a curfew for a while after the storm leaves. That's to cut down on looting (didn't stop Adelbert but he's special) & to allow emergency vehicles to get around without interference, etc. However, while the radio is important, I can't tell you how sick I got of hearing "Thank God for life" after the storm on the local radio stations. While I agreed with the sentiment, it got really old. 🙂
During the storm the local radio station I was listening to finally shut down & the misinformation I was hearing from the weather service via Puerto Rico was astounding.
When there's finally a lull in the winds it's the eye. Don't think it's all over. Sometimes the back half can be worse than the first half.
Do all your laundry so you have clean clothes & put any important papers in a waterproof container in a safe place. If you live on a boat, get off of it if you haven't sailed it away. Marilyn turned out to be much worse than it was projected to be & people died on their boats riding out the storm if I recall correctly.
Many more people have generators now than they did then & lots of places were rebuilt much stronger but remember that tornadoes are spun off from these storms & they can cause worse damage than the hurricane. Once you go through a major storm, you won't be inclined to ever have a hurricane party. Oh, and stock up on bleach.
Stephanie, what Juanita is saying is the kind of food you need is non-perishable things that are fast and easy to warm up and eat. dried beans would take a lot of energy to cook. We have a one burner propane stove that we can use to heat water or food, but you wouldn't want to use it for the time it would take to cook beans or rice, IMO. Canned foods are best and canned protein is a must. A clean bucket to dip water from the cistern is also a good thing to have.
Storm prepartation also means getting cash, I would say $400 - $500 dollars.
I've not been through a hurricane but I was on STX for tropical storm Jeanne and I was surprised at the noise! Several hours of the heaviest rain and winds you can imagine. It was quite an eye opener. As far as staying in one part of the house or another, we decided that if it got really bad we'd go to a walk-in closet we have in the center of our house.
Roadrunner & Trade NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! That is some good information with some things I would never have thought about. Roadrunner I will be adding several more things to my list thank you. And Trade, thanks for the screen tip. First since I just spent 30k to replace the old windows in my apartment building with the hurricane resistant type and another 7k on new screens. If one comes I will be removing all the screens for safe keeping. Just in case one of my new windows fails to do its job.
I had hoped to have my solar power and a generator installed for the building by now, but of course everything has taken longer than expected. We will be well into and probably past hurricane season before I get the building done to house all that solar battery and generator stuff. I have to get a permit and who knows how long that will take. So here is another question to ponder. The apartment building I own has seven units with two water pumps. It would be nice to at least have running water if we didn't have electricity for several weeks or even months. Does anyone have any experience with a make shift something that might be able to generate enough electricity to run a water pump? I do already have my storage batteries for my solar (haven't bought the panels yet). Any thoughts from you technical minded folks. Just thinking of things that would not only make me more comfortable but also my tenants.
Lots of good advice! Did anyone mention filling your car up with gas?
roadrunner, What are "little black grippy things"?
thanks everyone,I know I need to stock up on stuff. i really do appreciate the advice,it's still kinda scary right now it's only my daughter and I, the rest of my family is stateside,husband and two daughters,I'm gonna get busy!!
Juanita, it's been so long I had to look it up. I got them at Home Depot, but here's the website: www.plylox.com -- looks like a scam, but they actually do work. I had a couple of pieces of plywood that came off, but it's because they weren't quite measured right. The rest stayed on through Katrina and beyond. And no, I have no stock in the company or anything like that. 🙂
Without a generator I am not sure if there is a way to run a water pump for pressure water, the start up amperage seems to be quite high. You may be able to rig a 12V boat water pump but it won't pressurize your pipes. I have used a foot pump from the marine store run to the kitchen sink to draw water from my cistern, after H. Hugo. You can also keep a siphon hose inside the overflow with a shut off nozzle to fill containers. That way you can flush toilets easily. If you have a big plastic garbage can there you can also do the laundry.
One supply I do suggest are the solar water bag showers - the 3 Gal size - it will get very hot and can be hung in the bathroom shower which gives a hot shower and some sense of normalcy. We have one for each of us.
My opinion is oil lanterns give nice light - because batteries don't seem to last too long, can be hard to find and get expensive. Candles can be dangerous.
Good insulated coolers, not leaving the ice in contact with water, and some tight packing can keep most things cold.
Spare propane containers with an adapter to fill the small bottles from the big 20# tanks are really useful if any of your propane appliances use the small cans, things like single burners, lanterns, etc. - people will buy the small cans by the case and they get be in short supply so reusing them is effective.
cash is important as mentioned -the banks get reluctant to open without electricity.
Get a washline rope and clothes pins too.
before a storm you might as well triple plastic bag any electrical things like TV's and such - there may be a long time until you need them again and if not, as least they emerge dry and safe.
Had my dad send me Solar shower (bucket the water from the cistern) mosquito netting. and a large camping tent. Lived in that in the livening for 4 months till the new roof was put on.
Great post roadrunner
P.S. Get lots of canned food. mre's (meals readty to eat , or army rations) really suck
More good stuff. Thanks. I would hopefully not have to go too long without electricity. My husband gave a ride one day to the guy that was the caretaker of this building when Marilyn hit. He said they weren't without electricity for too long because the building is on the main supply line for Crown Mountain Road. But, you never know.
There was a VI Hurricane Preparation Handbook made (I think in 2002) that was sponsored by Lutheran Social Services and prepared by Peter DesJardine. Don't know if it is still available but it had some good info.
If you have dogs it is good to get the training pads (for them to go to the bathroom on) from Kmart. If you have a dog that is well trained and really doesn't want to "go" inside they do use them - eventually.
Peanut butter is a great source of protein and easy to eat - we always stock up on PB, Ramen (easy to cook), tuna & canned veggies from Cost U Less.
Don't forget a big bottle of aspirin or Tylenol!
Cresentpoint : It certainly depends on the intensity of the damage to the power poles,lines,plant itself and the power head of the particular building as to the amount of time that you may be without power. It took between 60 - 90 days to have power at my house on Crown Mt. after both Hugo and Marilyn - it came to be a house by house connecting situation basically as a safety issue. I was far from the last one on STT to have power return. My dim recollection , no pun intended, is that is was weeks, not days, before WAPA was up and restoring power much of anywhere.
There is no harm in being well prepared and not having to use the supplies until Oct. if we are not threatened.
Lenny was not a real big storm...we were out without electric for 10 days--on a main stx road. We got connected by a STT crew their first day on stx--my neighbor found out they were staying at a condo where I knew management, so I promised the crew the world.... they did a little "jog" in their planned route, and connected us before they went around the corner....and they had rooms to stay in that night.
One of the little storms before that--we also lost power--the WAPA lady on the phone told my husband to go find a truck and pay the guys in cash to get them to come to us...I forget whether it was 50 or 100 that was the suggested gratuity.
Beachy, I have to laugh a little, because when in Oklahoma I did the same thing for the crews. After a huge ice and snow storm my business was without power for three days. I begged and pleaded. Promised free gift cards etc. But, it didn't help me there. lol I'm just going to cross my fingers and my toes and say a prayer that nothing big comes this year. It will give me just one more year to get my solar done and I won't have so much to think about.
umm Trade,adelbert was stealing from the great white satan with his brother farakhan and nephew usie
Well, I told you he was speshul. 😀
I don't live in the USVi, but I HAVE been through hurricane Lenny there, and I was flooded at home so I have a few ideas that I don't think I've seen here (yet). Most were shared with me by island locals during Lenny, a few are my own observations
Unplug everything and put the plugs up high. Get bed covers, quilts up off the floor so they don't wick water. Get ice - lots of it. Get rum - lots of it. Remember that toilets won't flush without a bucket of water being poured in.
Baby diapers are apparently wonderful at wicking up large amounts of water by doors and windows.
Lock 'n Lock products really and truly work http://www.organize.com/lolofostco.html I had teabags and crackers in some of them - they floated for three days in six feet of water in my muck filled basement and the contents were COMPLETELY dry - not even damp and still usable.