June 1st, the first day of hurricane season. You can’t listen to the radio or read/watch the news without hearing about the kick-off of the season, the sales tax holiday this weekend, or the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew (one of the most costly and destructive hurricanes ever), and how to get prepared.
I’m on it!
Because last September when we landed in our new home in the midst of the season (which lasts through November 30th), we were decidedly not ready for what transpired just four weeks later… Hurricane Matthew.
Our POD of worldly belongings had recently arrived from California, our rooms still stacked with unpacked boxes, our cupboards still bare save some basics.
Did I know where a battery powered lantern was? No.
Did we have water and food to last for days? No.
Were all our important documents gathered in case of evacuation? No.
So I got to work quick.
Here is a picture of Matthew from Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 (its outer reaches obscuring most of the state of Florida). We expected the worst of it to hit us at midnight on Thursday.
I have to admit, despite all my years in California and the ever-present threat of earthquakes, this was the first disaster I actually took concrete steps to prepare for: freezing water, gathering important documents & medicines in plastic bags, stockpiling food, reinforcing garage doors, clearing patio furniture & planters, draining the pool, etc.
It’s a strange thing to know with certainty that disaster approaches. Quite different from earthquakes which strike with no warning. Hurricanes move slowly, stealthily. You have days of waiting, preparing, biding time, studying flood charts, watching the weather channel. It’s all very unnerving.
In my journal from Thursday of that week, I wrote, “I’m having trouble sleeping, tossing & turning and fretting about Matthew. Today I woke with a sick feeling in my stomach.”
In the end, we were sufficiently prepared. But more than that, lucky. Though Matthew ratcheted up to Category 5, we missed the worst of it as the storm tracked farther north, blasting North Florida and the Carolinas.
In the days that followed, that word “luck” was on everyone’s tongues. “We got really lucky there.” “Yeah, we really dodged a bullet.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words, feeling grateful, but also thinking about the others who weren’t so lucky.
They say this season is going to be “busier than usual,” so it’s a good idea to get prepared now. This weekend offers a sales tax holiday on all hurricane preparedness supplies (with some limits). The sales tax rate in most Florida counties is between 6-7%, which may not seem like a lot, but if you’re really stocking up on everything (ice packs, lights, batteries, fuel, coolers, tarps/tie-downs/anchor kits, radios, even generators), you can save quite a bit. See link under MORE READING below for details.
Here’s a great emergency supply kit list from Palm Beach County (click image for full size):
Palm Beach County Hurricane Survival Guide – This document is amazing. Everything you need to know about everything hurricane related. I found it super helpful.
Three-day hurricane supply sales tax holiday starts Friday in Florida – background info and list of qualifying items. Stock up this weekend!
Atlantic hurricane season is here. Be glad it’s not 1992. – interesting article on Hurricane Andrew and the improved science of forecasting since. Yay for science!
Palm Beach County Emergency Management – Has quick links to: Emergency Supply Shopping List, Food & Water in an Emergency, Gas Stations, Home Depot Stores Powered by Generator, Hurricane Guide, La Guia de Huracán, Lowe’s Stores Powered by Generator, Publix Stores Powered by Generator, Shelters, Special Needs Application, and more
Palm Beach County Hurricane Evacuation Zones – Know your zone!