(Editor’s Note: We’re glad to have David Pease writing for us again. He will be writing on different subjects and adventures. He was missed.)
In 2016 we were hit by Hurricane Matthew. I missed the deployment on that storm because our team was training the firefighters and rescue folks in Guatemala. I have been on 14 deployments since 1990, the first being Hurricane Fran in 1996. This past year, before a lot of folks could get fully recovered from Matthew, we were hit by Florence. This was another devastating storm, and it will be years before recovery will be complete. My guess is, we may get hit again before that happens.
Having a portable generator is a good plus, but be careful how you hook it into the house. If you want to run the house with it, you need a special transfer system that will not allow the power to back feed.
Thousands of years ago a fellow by the name of Noah, was told by the Lord that it was going to rain for 40 days and nights, and the world would be flooded. The Lord also told Noah what preparations had to be made for this upcoming event. Noah made these preparations and he and his family survived. For many years we did not get much heads-up notice when hurricanes were going to slam our coast, so preparation time was limited. Most of these storms only affected the coastal regions as well. With all the growth in our state and with an ever-changing world and environment, we are seeing these storms create flooding not only on the coast, but inland as well. Now these storms can have effect from the coast to the mountains, and we are seeing more of them.
The good news is we now have the technology to see these storms form across the ocean and track them to landfall. We now have the time for preparation that the Lord gave Noah. We need to use that time to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.
First thing you should be looking at is your family and home. Consider where your home is located in relation to the path of the storm and remember that the path can change. The meteorologists are good at predicting storms, but they are not perfect. Look at how the storm would affect your residence with wind and rain. Let’s look at the wind first and the rain second.
Preparing Your Family
Do you have trees that would or could fall and damage vehicles or the house? You want to make sure that things are moved and also make sure your family avoids any rooms that a large tree could fall into. Unfortunately, people have died in their homes by trees falling on them. If this means the family needs to go somewhere else to ride out the storm, so be it. You need to also look at what flooding could occur at your home as well. If you are on high ground, then you have no worries. If you are in a questionable area, then you need to make preparations to move important things, like your family, to higher ground. Remember, if you are deployed, you may not be able to get back to help them move, or they may have to be rescued and evacuated as well.
Another consideration is being without electricity for a period of time. The problem here is, you may not be able to help them if you are out helping others. You want to make sure they are good to go before you leave out. If you are worrying about family, you put your own life in jeopardy because you are not thinking clearly. Make sure they are safe and taken care of before you head to the station.
With no electricity, there will be no lights or AC/heat, or powering up the stove for cooking. Fortunately, heat and AC are not critical when most hurricanes strike. You need to make sure there are lights, candles or lanterns for light, and provisions for keeping things in the refrigerator cold for a bit. You need to make sure you have that extra-large cooler and it’s full of ice. Things will stay cold and frozen for a while. If you know the storm may be coming, you might want to eat what you can from the refrigerator and freezer, and stock up on a few dry goods and soups that need no cooling. Having a portable generator is a good plus, but be careful how you hook it into the house. If you want to run the house with it, you need a special transfer system that will not allow the power to back feed. You may just want to connect the refrigerator and a few lights to it. If the family is not comfortable being in a somewhat of a survival situation, then send them out until it is safe to have them back home again. They are your number one concern before the storm. Remember, the Lord made sure Noah looked after his family first.
Water is another concern you need to be aware of. There needs to be plenty of drinking water on hand. If you keep extra buckets or containers of water on hand, the toilets can be flushed, but only when needed, if you know my drift. This can just be plastic five gallon buckets. I did this during Hurricane Fran and that aspect never became an issue.
Preparing the Station
Once the home front is taken care of, it’s time to look at the same considerations for the station. The station can be in as much danger as your home from the wind and rain. Make sure you assess the trees around the station as well as any water that could rise and flood you out. Stations were flooded from the past two storms and equipment was damaged. Even if your station has a back-up generator like ours, they don’t perform well underwater.
If you have to consider moving all the trucks to higher ground, do it prior to the storm, not when you are being pounded and needing to respond to help others. You can always come back if things don’t happen. You will also need supplies for the station, as you did for home. You may be there for a while, and once things get nasty, it is going to be hard to get supplies. As a matter of fact, if you don’t get supplies early, you will have difficulty. Everyone else is going to be stocking up as well, and things run out quick. Just think about snow and the “bread and milk” fiasco. As soon as folks think it is going to snow, there goes all the bread and milk. I just don’t see how folks want to live off bread and milk. I was thinking maybe hotdogs and rum. Just kidding.
Next article, we will look at the preparations and training that may be needed to handle the response calls that will come next. Until then, stay dry, stay safe and train hard.