That is the question I have been asked quite often by both people near and far regarding the impending doom that is Hurricane Irma. It’s been 12 years since we had our hit from Wilma but I still remember how surreal and dangerous it felt.
So what am I going to do? Well first of all, not panic. The hysterical/mob type mentality that these sort of events bring to the surface so easily in many people bothers me. I absolutely hate it. It demonstrates to me just how quickly people can devolve when faced with a crisis.
There have been a surprising amount of people that have chosen to pack their shit and get out. I think the images of widespread destruction in Texas from Harvey being so fresh in people’s minds has ratcheted up the panic level here. When you hear numbers like 185mph sustained winds and things like “most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean”, any person would have to be concerned, which I am, but packing up and leaving never entered my mind as a remote possibility.
I did have some concerns with gas. I wanted to make sure the Tacoma was fully gassed up since it would likely be the primary post storm vehicle due to it’s ground clearance. During the day every gas station you passed was mobbed by cars, like fire ants converging on a victim. I told Cindy I wanted to try to go out later at night and to head east instead of west. During previous hurricane episodes I actually had luck finding gas in Immokalee, I figured I would try again.
At first it looked like my plan was going to be a bust. The first four or five gas stations we passed were out of gas. We then spotted a convenience store with cars lined up for the pumps, normally not something I would be excited about. I swung a U turn and got in the line which was probably around 10 cars deep. We waited in line for around a half hour, both of us hoping they would not run out of gas before we reached the pumps.
Luckily we were able to get some gas. Even though I had three empty 5 gallon gas jugs in the back of the Tacoma I only filled one of them in addition to topping off the truck. I already had one full 5 gallon container at home so I didn’t want to partake in hoarding mentality. There will still be gas deliveries this week that will allow me to fill the other cans if I want to.
As far as other prep at home, if the the forecast path remains in a direction that could hit us with major weather I still have my plywood I cut to size for the various openings on the house. Affixing them is a long, difficult, and tedious process. We also would have to try to get EVERYTHING that is not in the ground outside, inside using a combo of both sheds for storage while crossing our fingers that the hurricane straps that hold them to the ground do their job. Our new RO system has a 300 gallon water tank that should be able to provide us water as long as I can provide the system power via generator.
I have two generators, a big one that is 12 years old that does not want to run continuously for long periods of time and a smaller Honda that is less powerful but very reliable. I would use the big generator to power the water system in spurts the keep water flowing. The little one would be used to power a few key things inside like the fridge, maybe a fan, and hopefully my window AC unit at night if it still works. We have some rechargeable lights and battery banks to charge things like phones as needed.
To be honest my biggest concern of all is the safety of the chickens. The shed we converted into a coop is wind rated to something like 75mph. I am hoping it being braced against the attached run gives it some additional strength. However if the forecast is for winds approaching triple digits I think we will use the old chicken tractor and relocate the chickens temporarily into the garage. If they were hurt/killed from us rolling the dice with the coop staying intact I would feel absolutely awful. For this plan to take place I would need to pull my Tacoma out of the garage and park both it and the Prius sideways in front of the garage door to offer additional wind protection buffering.
So as I said, I won’t be panicking but I will be watching the updates carefully and acting accordingly. There is nothing in my lifetime that matched the sights and sounds of the absolute fury of a hurricane ripping down my pool cage in 2005. I am hoping we manage to not reach that magnitude of intensity this time around.