Oct 062016

matthewSo, I’m pretty sure everyone knows Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida, and then on to Georgia and South Carolina. The current forecast track kind of lets North Carolina off the hook. It’s been, and remains, a pretty devastating storm, having already wiped out Haiti, and now battering the Bahama’s. In case you missed it, a christian activist has already blamed Matthew on Orlando Pride, which is this weekend (Oops, postponed due to the storm). Just thought you should know.

Note too that this plot has it becoming a tropical storm and circling back towards Florida next week. Hence the designation of “round 1.”

The last little storm we had come through Tampa knocked out power in the neighborhood about 4am that morning. Fortunately we were back on around Noon, so it wasn’t too bad. However, we realized that, for the first time, we were pretty unprepared. We found one working flashlight in the house, and couldn’t even find  a working lighter for candles. On top of that, the very nice generator I bought a few years back wouldn’t start.

I kept telling myself to get out and test it. I hadn’t run the thing in probably 18 months. I did run all the gas out of it last time it was used, but that wasn’t enough.

I decided to fall back to being better prepared, and executing the five tiered plan I kind of keep in my head. Tier 1 is when something in tropics seem to be getting organized, and I start to keep up with it, and do a kind of walk around inventory to decide what, if anything we might need from the grocery store, or anything else we might to take care of if the turns into a direct threat. Not a lot of action happens at this point, just starting to monitor the storm and readiness.

If it’s forming into something, and looks like it could be threat anywhere near us, I start what I guess is tier 2. This would be where I start filling water bottles if needed, maybe start making an actual grocery list, and checking out flashlights and batteries, the battery-powered radio, and test the generator. If the storm is now just a few days out, and still heading near or at us, tier 3 means hitting the grocery store, again checking water, and maybe getting gas for the generator.

Today, I hit tier 4. This means there’s enough of a chance of at least blustery winds, that I’ve put up the deck furniture, policed the area to be sure there’s nothing lose that can get blown through a window or something. If it’s a rain event, I may bet some sandbags for our back door. The water’s never come in, but during some really serious downpours, it has sure looked like it wouldn’t take a lot more. Another generator test, and I start topping off the cars with gas. We’ve never experienced a shortage of gas like they’ve had in South Florida, but if there is a major power outage, the pumps won’t work. I also start charging up and keeping the electronics topped off…phones, laptops. I also check the lock-box, and be sure important papers are all in there, and not in the desk…it’s one of the things we’d try to grab and go with.

We are not looking at a significant hit based on the current track, but hurricanes can do strange things. I’ll always remember hurricane Charley. back in 2004. We were ordered to evacuate, as it was headed straight up the west coast right to Tampa. We went with friends to stay at Parliament House in Orlando. We got there, and had some lunch. One of the guys had to take his dogs to be boarded. He came back, and we were just standing around in the parking lot. He’d just heard on the radio it had taken a hard right turn, and was headed straight for Orlando. At that point, we just decided to tough it out over there.

By the way, tier five is when a direct hit is expected, but we haven’t been told to evacuate. For this, I’d board up some windows, preposition the generator, and have the cord ready. I’ll also get a go bag and some clothes packed just in case.

Right around 3pm, we had a bit of a drizzle come through, and it has been off an on drizzling for the last couple of hours. Looking at the radar, and I’d say this is part of an outer band, so I guess it is here. Let’s say a bit of a prayer for those folks on and closer to the East Coast. It is not going to be pretty over there.

By the way, after the fiasco with the flashlights, I went to Amazon and shopped around. I saw this little light, and ordered one to see how it was. I wanted to find a really good, durable light, and standardize on that. This was small enough to fit in the glove box in the cars, the reviews said it was very bright, and I liked the concept of pulling up the top to reveal a frosted cone that makes is like a lantern. To be frank, I didn’t have great expectations, but here I sit putting batteries in the other four I ordered after testing the first one. It’s tough, it is bright, and by golly, that lantern mode works really good.


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