Hey, and welcome back. As I sit here at my computer, people in the Florida Keys are even now feeling the onset of Hurricane Irma, which has once again reached category 4 status. According to some sources, they are already feeling gusts of wind up to 50 miles an hours near the Florida/Georgia State line, and gusts up to 70 miles an hour at the Miami airport. It's also one of the largest hurricanes on record with a diameter of over 350 miles; which means that it will hit the entire state of Florida, not just one coast or the other. Even here in Greenville, SC, an easy 300 miles north of Florida and just over 3 hours from the nearest coast, we're looking at the probability of 6 inches of rain and winds up to 45 miles an hour come Monday. And on top of all this, Hurricane Jose is rambling through the Caribbean and has recently been upgraded to a category 4 as well!
So what to do? Well, to honest, if you live in Florida and you haven't already prepared, you're pretty much screwed. Those in northern Florida may still have time to get the hell out of Dodge, but those in southern Florida who haven't evacuated yet may as well just hunker down and hope for the best. Still, those who live in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina still have time to do something.
First thing is to get anything that might become flying debris when the winds top 30 miles an hour needs to be brought inside or secured. You certainly don't want your lawn furniture, garbage cans, or grill to come through your windows; and this advice should probably be followed by people as far north and as far inland as Asheville, NC. If you can't get them inside, or at lest to a sheltered area (say, under a deck for instance), then chain them down. One of my friends lived through Andrew and he's got a picture of his neighbor's 14 foot fishing boat hanging in mid air, trailer and all, as the winds peaked. The only thing that kept it from flying away is that it had been chained to a 3 inch metal pipe set in concrete to keep it from being stolen.
Next thing I'd look to are the windows. Just because you got everything in your yard cleaned up doesn't mean all your neighbors did, and what about broken branches and uprooted plants? If I still lived in Charleston, I'd be putting 3/4 inch plywood over all of my windows (and yes, I did keep plywood precut to fit over each window and numbered so that I knew which piece went over which window in the garage. Keep in mind people that I've lived through 4 hurricanes during my years in Charleston, so I had things down pat). After all, once winds reach 120 to 130 miles an hour, it doesn't always need debris to break a window. If a window is even the slightest bit loose in it's casing, the wind alone can break it at those speeds! If I lived in Orangeburg, or even Columbia (a good hour and a half from the coast), I'd consider placing a modified St. George's cross of duct tape on my windows, especially if the storm was hitting the east coast. That's 6 pieces, from corner to corner and then down the middle from top to bottom and again from side to side. This won't keep your windows from breaking, but the odds are a lot smaller that your windows will break that far inland; and if they do break the duct tape will keep the pieces of glass from flying all over the house.
Next to look at is power outages. We can take it for granted that most, if not all, of Florida will lose power today; but what about Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina? I think Atlanta will lose power for at least a bit, and Alabama could be in serious trouble that way. As for South Carolina, the jury's still out; but it's probably safe to assume that at least parts of South Carolina will lose power as well. When I lived in Charleston I had a small generator, just large enough to keep my freezer and the fridge going; but I sold it when I moved to Greenville. After all, the chances of loosing power for long periods of time here are some what small. What I do do is I have a jar I filled with water and placed in the freezer. Once the water froze, I then placed a coin on top of the ice. If I should loose power, once the power comes back on I can check the position of the coin. If it's still sitting on top of the ice, then the power wasn't out long enough for anything to thaw out. If it's sunk a bit, then I know to replace sensitive items (like ice cream and chicken), but most of the food will still be good. If it's sitting on the bottom however, then it's time to toss everything and start over. Still, I can replace everything in my freezer for maybe $350.00, while a generator like what I had in Charleston would run $600.00 or more. Considering that in the decade I've been in Greenville I've never experienced a power outage long enough to cause the coin to drop more than 1/4 of the way down, that's pretty good odds.
Ok, I had to make a run to get some meds for my wife, and now they're saying that Irma may not die out completely until it hits Kentucky. People, this is one serious storm here! The eye is going to stay in the gulf, yet they're predicting 6 feet of storm surge for parts of Charleston on the Atlantic Ocean.
So I've covered the biggest things for those who are well away from the coast, but what else might be needed? Well if you don't have a good first aid kit, I'd run to the nearest drug store or Walmart before I even finished reading this ramble! Seriously folks. Winds of the type we're looking at even this far north coupled with 6 inches of rain or more makes for a lot of opportunities for accidents. If you're reading this after the fact, I still urge you to get a good first aid kit. Maybe even one like this one. One I hope to add to my web site soon is Elite First Aid's Rapid Response Bag, which is the one I personally keep in my truck.
Finally, since once again I'm going well past where I meant for this to end; it's too late for Irma, or even Jose, but if you live any where near water you really need to have flood insurance. No, your home owner's insurance will not cover all the damage from these storms. Any damage caused by the wind and rain will be covered, but any damage the insurance company determines to be caused by flooding, specifically water that comes in under the doors rather than from a hole in the roof, is not going to be covered. Believe me people. I found this out the hard way. You do not want to find yourself trying to cover half the damage to your home out of pocket because the damage was caused by flooding, not unless you're rich enough to buy another home with out a mortgage; and precious few of you can do that I'd think.
So take care the next few days. My prayers go with all of you about to be effected by Irma or being effected by her, and I hope to see you back after things have calmed down somewhat. Take care, and as always, remember. If it's worth doing, do it with Attitude! See ya.