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  • Writer's pictureKL Forslund

A Storm is Beryling Down

We might see a hurricane here in Houston. Per the latest news, Hurricane Beryl could take a right and curve up toward Houston. My sources tell me panic buying has begun at the local grocery stores.  Shelves were full enough this morning, but it’ll get sparse as we get closer and the storm’s course becomes surer.


So what do we do?


Well, here’s where I make my appeal to authority. I’ve lived here for twenty-eight years, and haven’t died in or after a storm. Of course, I’m seventy miles inland, and only lost a back fence, and power for two days once. What I do have is a decent bag of tricks for being modestly prepared. Let’s get started while there’s time to stock up.


Shop Smart

Before you head to the store, do a quick inventory. What do you have for non-perishable foods and water?


Early on, I realized as we had no power, but still had running water, that I couldn’t wash dishes (or pots and pans). So I figured out that all those cans of beans and soup were creating a new problem. It also became obvious when I went to the store that panic shoppers really love brisket and cereal. Do you know what they didn’t love?


Breakfast and granola bars.


Grab the big box of those.  You need one of each per meal per person for about a week. Don’t over do it, other folks need stuff, too.


Same thing with water. I know some yahoo said you need eight cups of water a day, but he made it up. A case of water is probably good for two people over a week.


Why a week? Because after the storm, if things don’t get better in five days to restock, you need to be making a new plan to relocate.


Now a prepper would say you need six months of supplies or some other turn-your-living-room-into-a-warehouse extreme. I’m just saying that if you had no supplies in your house, let’s get a week’s worth, and if the store’s don’t re-open and restock by day four, you need to go to Dallas or something.


Now, while you’re out, get gas. FIll them cars up. If you need multiple trips, take a different car.


Everything we’re buying in the days before the storm isn’t for the storm, it’s for the outages afterwards during the recovery.




Hours Before It Hits

The big day is here (or if it’s due during the night, before you go to bed), Pick up all the small stuff and put it in the shed or garage. Tuck things up along the side of the house (assuming your neighbor is ten feet away and there’s a fence in between. This is a wind dead-zone.


If you have plywood to cover your windows, do that. Or spend twenty thousand on good double-pane windows from Andersen. They didn’t pay me to say that.


Fill all the plastic containers with water that you can fit into your freezer. These puppies will help save your ice cream. Trust me, I know the loss of a full gallon of ice cream due to a power-outage.


Also plug all your chargeable things in. Nobody likes a dead battery.


The Stormy Bit

I probably should have said that if the storm was heading right for you, get on out of there. But folks who ain’t that bright, don’t listen and try to ride it out anyway. You’re smart. After all, you’re reading this super advice article like this is your first storm.


It’s gonna get windy. Your roof might tear off. Try not to scream. Nobody can hear you over the wind. Smart people listen to the radio to hear if the storm is worse in their area. But if you can’t hear the radio or see super strong winds out the window, then get away from the window. Hide in the bathroom or hallway. A place that’s not near outside walls.


You also want to keep an eye on water levels. If your yard looks more like a pond, you have some problems coming. Pick up all your valuable stuff off the floor. Dog. Important papers. Homework. Now’s a good time to pack up those important papers into a waterproof container.


Jokes aside, flooding is dangerous. Be ready to move as it’s better to get out sooner than later. Side note: pool noodles and life vests from that time you went on the lake would be handy to have nearby.


It’s Over But It Ain’t

The storm might last two to six hours. I’ve never put a stopwatch on it. Now what?


After Rita, it was nice and cool that first day. We had power. We ordered pizza. It was great. Then it got. I should have cleaned up the yard that first day.


The usual thing is that it gets hot, the water might be tainted, and there’s no power.


Let’s assume, that’s what we’ve got. If it’s worse than that, consult a real expert.


First, resist the urge to work really hard. You’ll sweat more, eat more, and frankly it’s too hot for that nonsense. Stay in the shade. Stay on your ration schedule. Read a book or play cards. Now you may actually need to do things, try to get to it in the morning or evening. Pace yourself. 


Also, check on your neighbors. See if they need anything. Don’t be a selfish asshole. Plus, odds are good, somebody is cooking brisket.


Assess the damage to your house, car, area. How far out is the power outage? Just your neighborhood or beyond? You might not be able to use this information right away.


Whether you keep your cool or not, the power might come back in one to twenty days. If you paid attention to prior storms (or asked your neighbors while eating their brisket), you’ll get a sense of if you’re in the pokey repair zone or not. Typically, my house gets power back sooner than other parts of my sub-division. Not to brag, but if I was in the pokey part, I could expect this time would also be the last to come back. That information is part of the equation for deciding to leave town to wait it out.


Waiting

It will be tempting to try to clear debris, and clean up, but here in Texas, we’re in a second year of near constant high heat warnings. Spending a day in that sun, without a cool house to take breaks in, is asking for trouble. Plus, assuming the water is out, you can’t shower. You’re going to get stinky, but sitting calmly for three days is a lot less smelly than full on worked hard grime.


So wait. Do the minimum to get your driveway clear. Make things safe, and basic repairs. But don’t do things that can literally wait a week.


The Restoration

After most storms, power comes back to nearby places. Order a pizza or go sit down in their AC. You earned it. When milk and gas stay in stock at the store, you can tell normality has just about returned. Until then, don’t buy more than what you need. Save some for others. You will always find some asshole buying all of something like there’s never going to be another shipment tomorrow.


Another shipment will come tomorrow. HEB in particular, has an excellent supply chain and disaster plan. So once the roads are clear, and the power is on at the store, those trucks are coming, every day. You can get your fair share of what you need and save some for others.


Normality Restored

For some folks, these storms are life changing. Do not even joke about that. I’ve had friends wading with their belongings floating in bins or carrying their kid on their head while hoping a boat can rescue them.


For the rest of us, this can be a stressful time, and still risky if we don’t keep prepared and keep our wits about us. This article is aimed for those folks, but the fact is, our life can turn into the worst scenario pretty quick.


Through it all, try to make smart moves that keep what you need nearby, conserve your resources, move you to the next step of keeping safe. And, keep an eye out for your neighbors in case they need a hand.


That’s how we get through these things.  Maybe there will be brisket.


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