Lessons Learned from Katrina
We learned alot from this experience. If any of what we have learned can help others, so much the better. Lessons Learned is divided into the following sections:
Riding Out The Storm
Hurricane Season Preparedness
Preparing to Evacuate
Riding Out The Storm
- Don't. A lifetime of memories and cherished possessions cannot be enjoyed if you are dead. Your heirs will most likely not want them (assuming they can find them, along with your lifeless body in the rubble), since they would be too painful a reminder of how they lost you. Hurricanes are unpredictable and indiscriminate. If you don't care about your own safety, think about those around you. If you don't care about their safety either, think about family and friends who either evacuated or already live out of town. You will be missed. If you don't believe so, come over to my house and watch It's A Wonderful Life a few dozen times. Stuff can get replaced. You never used most of it, and you were tiring of a considerable portion of that what you did use anyway. Think about it you know its true.
- Riding out the storm is selfish. Not only do you unecessarily worry others, but, after the storm passes, you may complicate the lives of the people who are trying to deal with all those who could not get out. If you had transportation before the storm, it may not survive which means you now add to the burden of emergency response teams who have to rescue you. If you stayed for Katrina and did not learn this lesson, you need a serious talkin' to. I am happy to do the talking if you bring the beer and pizza. A good education is never free.
- If you must stay… There may be good reasons why you must stay. Or maybe you just insist on being a selfish [insert your choice of descriptive expletive here]. So be it. Here's a list of what you will need:
- A place to stay away from windows - even those that have been boarded up.
- A radio that can use both batteries and has a crank (for when you run out of batteries)
- Plenty of batteries
- Plenty of water. You need 1/2 gallon for each person per day. A family of 4 would need 14 gallons to last a week. Find out more about where to locate safe drinking water on the FEMA site.
- A tarp to cover holes in the roof.
- An axe and a ladder. The ladder to get you to the roof (inside) and the axe to chop a hole in it should the flood waters rise. You can then use the tarp to shade yourself from the sun during the day while awaiting rescue on the roof.
- "Dry" food. If the electricty and gas go out, you won't be able to cook. Get one of those Turkey deep frying kits and keep it in a safe place. Also keep a couple of tanks of propane in a safe place, but away from people during the storm. That way you can at least cook the food in the fridge and freezer, and boil water, if necessary.
- This is just the beginning. Take a look at this site for complete preparedness instructions.
Hurricane Season Preparedness
Why not take the time to put together your supplies ahead of time? Do it when you are thinking rationally instead of waiting until the storm has already started to terrorize you and your family. Sometime in May, put the following stuff together and store it all in one place, for easy access should you need to evacuate:
- Buy some spacebags. Take a couple of pillows and blankets and store them in them. If you can afford it, also put a bunch of clothes in spacebags and store them in your "evacuation" area as well. This way, when it is time to leave, you just throw the bags in a suitcase (or even just into the car) and leave. You will also be able to take more stuff with you.
- Have plenty of Duct tape on hand.
- Put all your valuables that you will want to take with in close proximity, and already have them in containers you can grab. Airtight and waterproof containers are preferred. A "Dry box," used by boaters, works great.
Remember to gather:
- car titles and registrations
- insurance policies
- utility bills (to help provide ID for getting back into the city)
- all credit cards (in case you don't carry them with you all the time)
- social security cards
- birth certificates
- any professional licenses or deeds
- print a document containing all your passwords for web sites on which you depend (banking and credit card sites, etc.)
- Extra car and house keys
- $200 to $1000 in cash
- When you empty a juice or milk carton, fill it with water (remember to leave some room for the water to expand), and put it in the freezer. Do this until your freezer is full. You can use the jugs of ice to keep stuff cool in the coolers, and when it melts you will have more drinking water. This will also cut down on how hard your freezer has to work to keep stuff cold, saving you money.
Each May, review the above list and make sure you are ready for Hurricane Season.
Preparing to Evacuate
- Take the time to empty anything that will spoil or rot from your fridge. Fill up your coolers, using at least one of the ice jugs mentioned above in each. Once the cooler is full, pour ice cubes in to fill the empty spaces. BTW, you can do this several days before the storm is even predicted to come by you, i.e. as soon as you are inside the cone of possibility. You can always put more ice in to keep it cold, and just live out of coolers for a couple of days until you know where the storm is going to go. This is another real time (and stress) saver!
If the storm does head your way, tape the openings really good with Duct tape, including the drain. Hopefully, you will be back in a day or two and will be able to start using the food. If not, just put the cooler on the curb with the rest of the garbage.
If you don't have room for all the food in coolers, make a trash bag that is 4 bags thick and put the rest in there. That way you will have less to clean up when you return (and hopefully, less to smell, too). Pour some bleach on the food once it is in the bag to help keep the animals away, seal it up tight, and put it in a garbage can with a lid on it.
Another option for perishables is to give it all to someone who isn't leaving. Then it will be their problem. Of course, then you are out all of the food if you come back in a day or two.
- Fill the car up with gas. If possible, do this several days in advance, and fill up a couple of 5 gallon containers as well. That way, when it is time to evacuate, you can just top of the tank from your reserve rather than having to wait in line.
- Put shutters or plywood over the windows and doors, if you have them. If not, make sure drapes and blinds are shut to slow down any projectiles and minimize damage.
- Move valuable equipment, such as TVs or computers away from windows and doors. If it is extremely valuable, put some garbage bags around it to protect it from moisture, then wrap it in blankets to protect it from debris.
- Pack up your favorite DVDs. It may be awhile before you can return, and you will appreciate having the entertainment.
If you are at all able to do so, do yourself a favor and take a mini-vacation starting 48-72 hours from anticipated landfall. Make sure you go far enough away that no matter which way the storm goes you will be out of harm's way, or at least in an area where it will dissipate to a tropical storm by the time it reaches you. This means at least 200 miles inland for a Category 3 or higher, btw.
Evacuating early will mean less stress on you and your family, not to mention less hours on the road and less money spent on fuel for the car.
GALLERIES | PEOPLE | STORIES | LESSONS | LINKS