I did a search on this site for information about what residents do when a hurricane is planned to hit the island, but did not find answers to the following questions....
At what category storm do residents tend to evacuate the island?
Are there emergency shelters that are set up on the island when storms hit, and if so, do they allow pets (dogs and a mini-pig)?
I just want to know how to financially prepare in the event a storm hits. I know about the need for extensive insurance, but am wondering if I need to have enough emergency funds set aside to fly my family and all my animals off the island or if there are emergency procedures already in place for residents and their pets. I am a bit of a planner and want to have this figured out before I move there.
These are good questions! Most residents would not evacuate the island BEFORE a hurricane unless they were moving a boat down island or to Puerto Rico to get away from the storm. I've lived here for over 10 years and have seen several near misses. Most would want to be on island so they can assess and clean up any damage. Cat 1-2-3 hurricanes are not really that scary...my kids slept through all of them.
Regarding shelters, they do set up shelters at schools and other public buildings when a hurricane is expected. I'm not 100% certain about pets but maybe another reader can answer that one.
The local radio station company runs a simulcast over all their AM and FM stations right through the storm and does a super job of keeping everyone informed of important info. We have always had a battery operated radio so we can listen when the power goes out. But there are checklists that cover all aspects of hurricane preparedness.
I hope this helps.
We haven't had a major hurricane since 1995 and there is no "evacuation". Some buildings are set up on all islands as shelters if necessary but otherwise everyone hunkers down, protects their home as much as possible or, if their home isn't built well, moves in with friends with sturdier homes until the hurricane passes over.
It's really not something you can plan for. At the beginning of hurricane season the local newspapers provide hurricane tracking maps and lists of things to have on hand in event of one, along with numerous hints on how to prepare. Those of us who've lived here for a long time always have our hurricane preparedness kits on hand so we don't have to make a mad rush at the last minute to strip the store shelves of bottled water, batteries, etc.
Even with all the latest technology, hurricanes can move away very quickly, particularly when we're such tiny little spots. The last several years have seen hurricanes regularly stream off way to the east of us, leaving us with a tail end of torrential rain for a day.
The Flying off island isn't practical unless you have a ton of money and/or a private plane as hurricane tracking isn't an exact science and by the time one can confirm that the island will get hit and the severity of the storm, its probably too late to get off island via commercial means
Buy/Have on hand - Generator, Batteries, Food, Bleach, Radio, Water and a way to prepare your food, Chainsaw and fuel for all the above. Partial list you can google for a more comprehensive list
Develop - Good relationships with your neighbors (You may become Housemates), A sense of humor/adventure
Pets have not been allowed in shelters in the past.
Whether this will ever change is unknown.
Finding a rental that will allow a mini pig may prove problematic let alone a shelter.
It's always good to have emergency funds on hand as in the event of a catastrophic hurricane, power will be down for months. No ATMs.
After Huuricanes Hugo and Marilyn banks were not cashing checks for over $200 as they had no way to process them and only cashed them if you had an account. Have enough cash to purchase a ticket home, if necessary. No internet, either.
Residents hunker down and stay put to deal with the aftermath which is difficult, gruelling and challenging.
Many people that did not have ties to the islands, homes, businesses, etc., either left or sent their families stateside until basic services could be restored. It took many months to restore power after Hugo and Marilyn. Longer for phones (almost a year in many cases) and cable TV - well over 2 years.
Hopefully, we won't be faced with another such storm but it's best to be prepared for that eventually.
If a hurricane is pending, tourists will sometimes evacuate (bail out of their vacation early), or just cancel. The snowbirds evacuate every year. Does that count? 🙂
But seriously, we only get about 24 hours advance notice of a direct enough hit, and evacuating 50,000 people from either STX or STT in 24 hours would be virtually impossible. And most such storms turn out to be non-events (they miss us or they weaken), so an evacuation would be a huge waste. It's far more practical to shelter in place, or at a neighbor's place if yours is not up to it.
Most residents would not evacuate the island BEFORE a hurricane unless they were moving a boat down island or to Puerto Rico to get away from the storm. I've lived here for over 10 years and have seen several near misses. Most would want to be on island so they can assess and clean up any damage.
Agree. So here's what I tell friends and new residents:
1. It would be hard to imagine a hurricane as bad as Hugo ever hitting the VI again. Hugo was a CAT5 and it was SLOW. It leveled a lot of stuff. BUT (and this is the important thing) while it was noisy and scary as all get out while it was happening, very few people were killed, badly injured or even injured a little -- and besides a propane tank problem, I think all of the worst happened to people who stayed on boats. Even the very worst of these things are NOT at all like tornados in the mid-West.
2. Rising water kills many more people than wind in stateside hurricanes. Not a huge problem here since mostly everything drains pretty well, but stay out of a non-draining basement and off the roads.
3. 99.99999 percent of the misery is the aftermath. Snapped power poles and downed lines are all over the place so no power for a few days (Omar) to several months (Hugo).
Trees and nails in the road -- so limited travel at first and you have gotta have food, water and batteries. Make friends with someone that has a generator or battery operated shower that pulls water from the cistern for cleaning purposes. Stores, restaurants and movies closed and no cable for a while -- so it gets really, really boring--and being bored while hot and humid is no fun. Try a solar charger for your iPad or phone and have some good books or movies on hand.
So, as mentioned, evacuating doesn't avoid the misery if you have to come back and take care of your stuff. And other than the loud noise, windows popping out and driving water getting in (which seems awful as it is happening), you and the small pig are probably OK if you can find someone with a concrete house to hunker down in for overnight -- and for some reason the worst always seems to be at 1 am.
My only other advice is to make sure you have a small, battery-powered radio. Because that is not to be missed....it is the absolute best.
OT: I haven't used a paper chart is donkey years!
There is so much information on the internet- satellite, radar, forecasting, etc. In the past few years the weather service folks have gotten extremely accurate in their forecasts on direction (3 days out), but they are still working determining the strength of the storm. I personally love an app called, "Hurricane"- they worked hard on that name, huh? 😉 It gives the forecasts, weather maps, sea surface, radar and satellite info all in one place. It also gives the Saharan air layer info. (tu)(tu)
Well, still good to have a paper chart if there's no power and no internet and a next storm is on the way.
Well said and which was my whole point - and probably why those tracking maps are still printed out. There's a lot to be said for old school methodology. If and when a major hurricane like Hugo or Marilyn hits again (and by the way Carl, my guess is that you were on STX which was devastated by that one while STT got off a lot more lightly - vice versa with Marilyn) I'm the last one who'll be running round bleating because the power's out and the cell towers are down. My landline made it through both and, without power for 6 months after Marilyn and a house half gone, we did a lot of innovative rigging to stay comfortable! I don't bother tracking any more, neither do I panic every time a hurricane rolls off the coast of Africa in hurricane season as it's followed by non-stop yattering TV forecasters watching every move and creating panic for days on end. 😀
Thank you all so much. This eases my mind quite a bit. We are having to buy a house instead of rent because we are aware of how impossible it is to find someone who will rent to us with dogs and a little piggy. We are working with a great realtor and are definitely paying attention to the construction. Thanks again!!
Wheathering through a hurricane is a huge deal especially a cat 2 or bigger. They can last 8-10-12 hours and seem to go on for ever. Marilyn was one of the scariest storms my family had been through in many years, Hugo was another that was pretty bad. But the storm is only a portion of a hurricane. It's that time afterwards that most people really remember because there is usually nothing around but destruction and damage like you may have never seen before. Boulders the size of houses can be uprooted and roll down the sides of mountains crushing anything in it's path. Stores will be closed for days and longer and when they are open the stock usually is very limited. You may be without power for days, weeks and even months afterward.
the last hurricane, cant remember her name, was a cat 3. i slept through it very well. best sleep ever. did not have power until the next night at around 6ish. some places still did not have power for months. also keep in mind that different places on island get power back before others.
No, you won't evacuate the island if a hurricane is imminent, unless as stated above, you have lots of cash to charter a private plane off the island.
On another topic, you might want to check with the airlines regarding flying a "mini-pig" as a pet. Not sure if any airlines will allow this type of animal. They normally only approve cats and dogs for air travel. Had a friend recently move to STX who could not bring their hedgehog. Airlines wouldn't allow it.
Check with Delta Pet first, they may allow the pig, BUT, you will have to check with the Virgin Islands Agriculture Center to make sure there are no stipulations or permits required. They require vet check report to be filled out on most all pets brought onto the Island. Also, you may also check with the USDA to make sure there will be no issues bringing your pig back into the US if and when you decide to return home. They could require a lengthy quarantine stay in Miami.
Check with the Agriculture Dept. Veterinarian, Dr. Bethany Bradford,
regarding what permit you may need if importing your pet pig and if airlines allow.
340-778-0998 x241 or main #340-778-0997
She travels to STT/STJ during week and she's got her hands full with the severe drought the islands are having and the impact it's having on the livestock and horses.
I have made calls and have done on-line research about bringing a pig over. Delta will allow me to fly him out but there are restrictions on carrier type and temperature. He will need a permit from the Ag Dept. to enter VI. The only thing I need to do is check on zoning. There are no zoning restrictions that I can find on-line but I want to call to double check.
I need to make sure we buy a well built house because I don't want Hammy, yes that is his name, to be the brunt of "when pigs fly jokes" if a hurricane blows him across the island :).
Actually livestock is only allowed in A-1 and A-2 (agriculture) zones.
You may be the first pet pig owner in VI.
But have to say that zoning codes are not well enforced here, if at all.
However, your neighbors could report you to DPNR if they have objections if in R1, R2 zones, etc.
May be wise not to let Hammy wander in any case. Lots of roaming dogs as well so if the property you buy doesn't have a fenced yard, it's worth expense to keep pets on property and safe or he might end up as someone's pork chop.
Getting back to hurricanes, this is an informative link:
See top left link, "are you ready".