This page last edited on

01 August, 2008

Hurricanes

 

  Hurricanes are a real force of nature not to be reckoned with! I HATE hurricanes! You can see how Hurricane Wilma trashed my lattice and fence in the photo to the left. I had lived here in south Florida for 10 years before we had an actual hurricane at my house. We had tropical storms before but they didn't affect us too much. The first hurricane was Frances in early September 2004. It was a Category 2 but I had only Category 1 gusts here at my house. Further north of me they got the brunt of it. Then exactly two weeks later Hurricane Jeanne came ashore within two miles of the same location further north of me. She finished off what Frances started. We were without electricity for a week after Frances but only three days after Jeanne.  In late August 2005 Hurricane Katrina came to call on south Florida but I only had tropical storm force winds at my house. I had just completed the front pond a few days before the storm. Katrina, although a complete monster in the gulf coast region, was not too bad here. Further south of me they were hit harder though.  Then in late October 2005 we bore the brunt of Hurricane Wilma which was the most frightening thing I've ever been through! She did extensive damage and we were without electricity for two full weeks. As my neighbor says, its "indoor camping!"

 

  Thank the GOOD LORD 2006 didn't have any hurricanes in the United States!! Mexico and Asia seemed to have bad luck though. I think hurricanes, like life itself, are cyclical and that we will have years where we get slammed again.

 

  Hurricanes are EXHAUSTING AND EXPENSIVE because you have a lot to do and buy to prepare for the storms and you have a lot of clean up after the storms. I am grateful that I now have hurricane shutters for all of my patio doors and windows. I actually put them up for a tropical storm in the summer of 2006 just to see how hard it was to do and how long it took. Putting in aluminum shutters isn't fun but it isn't too awful either. It took me a few hours to do by myself. The thing I hate about them is once they are up you can't see outside until you take them off. They make clear panels now but they are twice the price! In preparing for a hurricane you must SECURE EVERYTHING outside. I take my outdoor ceiling fan blades off when the first storm comes for the season and then I keep them off until the season ends. Some things can be stored in the garage but if you put your vehicle in it you don't have much room. I put my vehicle in the garage because I don't want it damaged. Hurricane Wilma did a lot of damage to my van but now I have a new vehichle. Depending on when the hurricane hits you it can be miserable to be without air conditioning. We were lucky that after Wilma we got a cold front which made nights tolerable.

 

  I leave my animals outside in the ponds and the tortoise pen during storms. I took them in for tropical storms over the years but they were miserable inside and made a huge mess. Now I simply have too many to take in. Besides, storms are a natural occurrence and animals instinctively know to hunker down. The reptiles in the tortoise pen just burrow down into the ground. I set up the houses so they wouldn't blow away in a hurricane (hopefully not anyway!). The pond critters just stay in the water so it doesn't really effect them unless a tornado came over the pond and sucked them up. That has always been my biggest fear in a hurricane - a tornado! They are the most destructive force on earth and will wipe out virtually anything in their path. Hurricanes do spawn tornados and they can appear out of nowhere.

 

  It is not at all pleasant to be without electricity, especially for two weeks but obviously its doable. In a way you enjoy the quietness of it and the slower lifestyle. Since businesses are not open life really slows down for most people. I think the major reason electricity goes out in a hurricane is to allow everyone the time to clean up the mess, otherwise if you had to go back to work right away you'd never get the mess out of your yard! I'm only partly kidding on that one!

 

  I'm often asked why I don't evacuate for a hurricane. The answers are 1) I have too many animals and 2) the traffic is already horrible in south Florida - how are you going to get out of the state?! I couldn't possibly pack up all my animals and drive off into the sunset with them. Where would I go with all of them? I couldn't even fit them all in my vehicle anyway. There are approximately 18 million people living in the state of Florida. The traffic here is a nightmare most of the time. About half live in south Florida so if you have 9 million people trying to flee a hurricane by road you wouldn't get very far. Remember how awful the traffic was when people tried to evacuate for Hurricane Rita in 2005 from the Houston, Texas area? Just 4 million tried to get out of town and the road was gridlocked. Florida would be much worse! Besides, these hurricanes go anyway they darn well please so if you move up, down, to the right or left in most cases it doesn't matter because storms move all over the state of Florida. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in traffic during a storm or go somewhere and get hit by it.  The lovely county commissioners who keep approving mass development here are insane if you ask me. They have NO insight into potential problems trying to evacuate millions of people in a hurricane, especially if a Category 4 or 5 storm comes ashore. If you ask me, if south Florida has a Category 4 or 5 storm there could be a lot of dead people here, including me! At least in the gulf states and the eastern seaboard people can flee into the continent to avoid a hurricane. In Florida you cannot do that easily or quickly. You would have to leave days before a storm approaches to avoid it and of course, days before no one knows where it will hit. The whole thing is a little unsettling. But aside from hurricanes I totally love the weather in south Florida. This website wouldn't exist without the relatively warm climate year round because my animals could not live outside so there would be no Dianes Zoo!

 

  After having gone through hurricanes and extended periods of power outages, I have some tips that might be helpful to you.

 

TIPS FOR RIDING OUT HURRICANES

  • Stock up on batteries, bottled water, canned goods, non-perishable foods, animal food, medications, etc. BEFORE your area has a hurricane watch declared. If you wait until you are in a hurricane watch you will more than likely NOT be able to buy everything that you need. Stores empty FAST on the news of an impending storm and there will be little or nothing left. Besides, the traffic is horrible as everyone tries to find all the goods they need. So stock up year round!

  • If you think your roof shingles will come off in the storm (you have an old roof or a damaged roof) you should have blue tarp and the supplies to secure it before the storm arrives. After the storm it will be difficult to find these supplies as everyone else will be looking for them as well.

  • Have hurricane shutters for your windows and patio doors and put them up! Most roofs come off a house because windows or patio doors were compromised and the wind tunneled through the house and lifted the roof off. You also will be petrified out of your skin if a window breaks and the storm is coming into the house. The wind and rain will damage your walls and possessions. Check with your insurance company to see what discount they give for having hurricane shutters.

  • Don't wait until the last minute to do your preparations. Everything takes longer than expected so give yourself plenty of time.

  • Order a hurricane kit! Kits usually consist of a battery operated TV/radio combination, battery operated hurricane lanterns, flashlights and batteries. There may be other goods in there as well. Be sure to have your kit BEFORE the start of hurricane season which runs June 1 - November 31 each year.  I love the kit that I got online and it was very reasonable. The TV/radio worked great during Hurricane Wilma and I was so glad I had it because I could see the radar on the TV which made going through the hurricane easier when I knew exactly where it was. I even use my hurricane lanterns all year round. They are better than flashlights because you don't have to hold them so you can read with them and do chores in a room with no lights because the power is out.

  • If you have an aquarium have a battery operated pump in the house in case the power goes out. Fish cannot sustain life in an aquarium with no oxygen being circulated for long. A friend of mine found his catfish dead on the floor after one of the hurricanes. The poor fish jumped out of the tank looking for oxygen!

  • If you have a pond unplug all pumps and other electrical units such as UV lights before the hurricane hits. Depending on your set up you may have to dismantle everything and store it in the garage. If you have an extended power outage your fish will begin to stress out from low oxygen. You can add hydrogen peroxide to the pond to induce oxygenation. This is not harmful to your fish and will actually prolong their life until your power is restored. Be sure to add it everyday because it evaporates quickly.

  • During hurricane season, if you live in an active area, keep your frozen and refrigerated foods to a minimum in case the power goes out. We all learned that lesson after Hurricane Frances. Then we stocked up again and Jeanne hit causing us to throw out food again!

  • Have some type of cooking unit available that you can use without electricity. If you have a grill that will be quite handy! You can also use camping stoves and the like as well.

  • Share food with your friends and neighbors before it spoils and you have to throw it out. Getting together with neighbors is one positive aspect of being without power. In our hectic society where you barely know the folks living next to you, its good to be helpful to one another.

  • In the same way, help the elderly and sick amongst you in their time of need. Have the kids in the neighborhood pitch in and clear debris for those who cannot do it themselves. Treat your neighbors the way you would want to be treated  if you needed help! Ask your neighbors to come and sit the storm out with you if they are afraid or can't ride it out themselves for whatever reason. Volunteer to put up hurricane shutters, secure their yard and whatever else they need done.

  • If you have any outdoor animals such as cats, dogs or birds in cages you need to bring them in. Depending on how your dog or cat handles the noise of the storm, you might have to put them in a crate.

  • Take fruit and coconuts off your trees so that they do not become projectiles in the storm and cause damage.

  • Have plenty of garbage bags on hand to put all the mess and debris in after the storm.

  • Have plenty of ice and an ice chest all ready before the storm arrives. You won't find anything open after the storm for a while. Don't open the ice chest too much as it tends to melt the ice faster. Put a lot of bags of ice in the freezer to keep it frozen until the power goes out.

  • Fill your bathtub up with water in case your water is declared unsafe after the storm. You will be grateful you did!

  • Turn your freezer and refrigerator temperature up as high as you can before the storm to make everything as cold as possible so it stays colder longer if your power goes out.

  • As the storm approaches turn your breakers off. Once the storm arrives and the winds kick in you will begin to hear transformers blow. This is not good for anything plugged into an outlet! If you have the breakers off you should not experience any power surges on your electrical equipment. Just in case though, I always UNPLUG everything from the outlet and then turn off the breakers. This is where the battery operated TV comes in handy! Just watch the local news station throughout the storm until it passes. Even if you don't turn the breakers off, unplug everything from the outlet because power surges can damage anything plugged into the outlet even if it is turned off. This has happened to me when the transformers blew.

  • Make sure your cell phone is fully powered before the electricity goes out so you can use it after the storm. Phone lines go down as easy as power lines in a storm. But don't expect the cell reception to be good after the storm. It can takes days to get a signal. Cell towers get trashed in storms like everything else.

  • Have a battery operated fan to use for night or if it is hot during the day.

  • Have plenty of cash because when stores do open they generally have no credit card or ATM connections and are taking cash only.

  • Have a full tank of gas. Again, if you wait until the last minute you might have to wait for hours and/or they might run out. Also fill up several gas cans for your vehicle and a chain saw.

  • Neighbors should take turns taking each others gas cans to the gas station and filling them up. That way it will reduce the amount of vehicles waiting in line.

  • Have a generator and gas powered chain saw on hand and have them in working order with gas and oil.

  • If you are ordered to evacuate PLEASE DO!!! I don't live in an evacuation zone so I don't leave. However, all of the problems in New Orleans with people getting trapped from the flooding could have been avoided had they fled before Hurricane Katrina hit. NEVER assume you will be OK in a hurricane when you are living near water, right on the ocean or inland like New Orleans. By staying in an unsafe place you jeopardize yourself and all the people who are forced to come and rescue you after the storm. If Katrina didn't teach people a lesson I don't know what will!

  • Last but not least - don't expect FEMA to come and bail you out of your situation!!! It is each individual's responsibility to ensure they have the proper amount of food, water and supplies.  Assume you will have a power outage, prepare for it, and you should be fine. Secure your yard, animals, cover your windows and be helpful to your neighbors. If you do all this you will ride out the storm with greater confidence that when it stops you will be OK no matter what FEMA does or does not do in your area. They are literally the last of the cavalry, NOT the first! You are the first cavalry in any disaster so always be prepared!!!

  I hope that my tips and information on hurricanes were helpful to you. I have a lot of video and some pictures of the hurricanes on their respective pages from the links on the top left.

Hurricane Page | Hurricanes Frances & Jeanne | Hurricane Katrina | Hurricane Wilma

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DISCLAIMER:  This website was set up to SHARE my OWN experience with my reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens and local wildlife and to post pictures and video of them. It was NOT SET UP to offer my opinion or expertise on ANY QUESTION that I am asked and what I post on this website should not be taken as "EXPERT ADVISE" or how to take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens or local wildlife. I AM NOT A REPTILE RESCUE GROUP, GUINEA PIG RESCUE GROUP, VETERINARIAN, REPTILE EXPERT, GUINEA PIG EXPERT, PONDS/FISH EXPERT, GARDEN EXPERT OR WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR! I have limited experience with reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens, therefore, I am NOT QUALIFIED to give out advise or answer questions and you, as a visitor to this website, should not take anything on this website as expert advise or accurate information.  I present this website for fun and fun only - NOT as a reference website to instruct anyone on how to properly take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish or gardens.  I share how I DO THINGS for my reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens and this is not intended for others to take as expert advise or to mimic. Furthermore, my political views are my own and not intended to offend, annoy, hurt or demean any person, entity or organization. I express my views as an American who has the right to free speech under the Constitution of the United States of America. Please feel free to set up your own website and express your views, post your pictures and video and share with the rest of us in cyberspace what your little corner of the world is like. Thank you very much for your kind understanding in appreciating the value and contents of this website.

 

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