As The Flo Turns
Hey, and welcome back. I admit I've been doing a lot more video this year than blogging, but what's going on with Hurricane Florence right now needs at least some time spent on it.
For those of you watching, you know that Florence has been downgraded to a level 2 from a level 4, which is a huge relieve; but it's still a very dangerous Strom. For one thing, it's one of the biggest in history in terms of shear size. Hell, the things is almost as big as South Carolina and parts of North Carolina combined! For another, lets face it. 105 mile an hour winds are not to be sneezed at, and there's still time for it to grow in intensity before hitting land yet.
So what should you do if you're in the path? Well obviously much of that depends on where you are.
If you're on the coast, then by now you should have boarded up your house by placing plywood over the windows. You should have tested your generator or purchased a new one if one was in your budget, and, of course, you're planning on staying put. Gas is probably running out at many gas stations as well; so if you haven't bought it yet, why are you wasting time reading this?
If you're "bugging out", then you should already be on the road for someplace far inland. The governor opened I26 out of Charleston up so that all lanes were leading out, unlike the fiasco with Floyd when the lanes were not reversed and some people found in taking them over 6 hours just to get to Columbia; a trip that would normally take and hour and a half. You should also have an idea of where you're going. If you have no plans, well sorry, but most of the hotels are going to be booked solid so good luck getting a room at the last minute. There are a lot of emergency shelters that have opened up, including the fair grounds in Aiken. But be prepared. At a lot of those emergency shelters, you'll be sleeping on the floor because cots are in damned short supply; and so are blankets, sheets, pillows, and every other type of linen you can name. There are also some good Samaritans who are making space available in their own homes. Facebook is a good place to look for them.
But what if you're inland? I'm seeing a lot of things that are blowing my mind here in the Upstate of South Carolina, so let's take a look at some of them.
First, yes, the storm can cause damage a long ways inland from the coast. Hugo saw horrific damage to both Charlotte and Gastonia, both of whom are a fair piece from the coast. But if you look at a topographical map, you'll notice that there's not a lot of rolling hills, or anything other than fairly flat ground between them and the coast. In other words, nothing to break the storm's teeth and take some of the energy out of the wind and rain. By the time you get to Greenville, the winds will be knocked back to 40 or 50 miles an hour or so. Admittedly, that's still some pretty nasty wind. In fact trees will get knocked down, and houses will loose some roofs. There will be power outages, and enough rain (5 - 10 inches) to cause some serious flooding. But that's not enough to warrant some of the panic buying I've been seeing! Stores will be getting supplies in by Saturday at the latest; and if things were bad enough that they weren't, do you really think buying things that need to be refrigerated (like milk, lunch meats, and cheese) are going to be that great an idea?
So what do I think is good planning? First, look at what is around you. For an example, I've been doing a lot of work around my house lately, and there's a "Bagster" style soft sided dumpster in my front yard. I tried to get it picked up earlier this week, but I'm told that with Florence causing so many problems the earliest they can get it will be the 25th. So I've got 3 cubic yards of trash in my front yard just waiting for those winds to pick up and fling around the neighborhood, and trying to get it all moved back into the garage until after the storm is just not going to work. So I',m using big ass tent stakes to tie a tarp over top of it to hold it in place. Any yard furniture I can is being moved into the garage, and that that cannot be is being chained down.
I've got 2 battery powered inverters that are plugged in and charging. Between the 2 of them, I can keep any important electrical items in my house running for up to 8 hours, and if it looks like that will not be enough, I've got a generator I can fall back on. It's not a big one that can poser the whole house like the one I had in Charleston, but it'll do. I've got both cars filled up, and I've got gas for the generator; so if power is lost for more than a day, it's no big deal for me. Plus, as I always do, I've got enough. can goods and freeze dried things to keep me and my family feed for a month. So even if my generator can't keep both my refrigerator and my freezer going, I still will have enough to eat that is also safe to eat. I always keep a spare propane tank around, so again, if we do for some reason loose power for more than a day or 2, I can still fire up my grill to cook a hot meal.
I've got flash lights in most rooms in the house, and I've got both battery powered lanterns and kerosene lanterns; so light is no problem no matter what happens. And I've also still got a an old battery powered radio that works, so keeping up with the weather and news will be no problem. Add on a couple of power sticks to recharge the phones from, and I've got it covered.
But what if you're not prepared? Well, it might be tight, but you can still get most of what you'll need if you're reasonably far inland. Gas stations have been busy around here, but not swamped; so you can still get gas. Grocery stores are reasonably well stocked (most of them got trucks in today after all), and even if they aren't, you don't need two gallons of milk and 5 loafs of bread unless you've got a really large family. 3 cases of beer on the other hand ... Nah, being drunk just makes you careless. And as for things like batteries, lights, generators, those sorts of things; the. guy who runs the Ace hardware right around the corner from me tells me he'll be getting struck in tomorrow morning, and the worst of the winds aren't expected to hit until sometime around 9:00 or 10:00. And if Ace is getting a truck in tomorrow, I'd be willing to bet Home Depot and Lower Hardware are too.. So yeah, it would have been nice to have been prepared well a head of time, but it's not too late.
So take a deep breath. Then take a minute to think. Are you really in that much danger? And what kind of danger are you likely to face? Once you've answered those two questions, then it's time to head to the store. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels.
In the meantime, I've got the finish tying down that tarp; and I've got a blog to shoot to post tomorrow. So take care of yourself, and remember! If you're going to do something, even if it's buying a flashlight, do it with attitude!