Hurricane Florence is getting closer and is expected to hit land later today. If you are in the path or even within the cone of possibility, get prepared or get out now. And if they tell you to go, go.
Some words of advice from someone who went through Hurricane Irma a year ago: take pictures of every room in the house from as many angles as possible, including the kitchen cabinets, the dining room breakfront where your grandmother’s wedding china is stored, the closets, the bathrooms; everywhere.
If you evacuate, let your friends and family outside the area know where you are, and stay away until the authorities say it’s safe to return. They can arrest you if you violate their orders, and they’ll be doing you a favor if they keep you away.
If you hunker down and stay, have enough supplies for at least a week of living without power or water. Canned goods, bottled water, medicines, pet supplies, emergency goods such as first aid, and toilet paper are on the top of the list, but so are spare batteries and reading material.
If you have hurricane shutters, make sure they’re securely fastened; they can come loose and become dangerous missiles in the wind. Don’t waste battery time on your radio or phone by keeping it on when the power goes out. Turn them on to catch regular bulletins — most radio or TV stations will update on the hour or half-hour, but unless there’s a bulletin, they’ll be just nattering to fill the time. As for your cell phone, if you still have service, turn it to low-power if you have the setting to save the battery. If you have a generator, use it to power essentials such as a refrigerator, battery charger, or medical devices; you can live without A/C.
Once the storm passes, check your house and your area, but wear shoes and long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. The debris can be very dangerous, and above all, stay the hell away from any power lines, even phone lines. Take pictures of the damage; you’ll need them to file insurance claims if you have coverage. And for dog’s sake, don’t go out and “explore” just to see what’s happened; keep off the road so emergency and recovery crews can get around.
Finally, and this is most important: you’ve been through a natural disaster and it will take a toll on you mentally as well as physically. If there’s a lot of damage and loss to your property or personal effects, it will cause anguish. Don’t be afraid or act too butch to reach out for help from friends and even professionals to cope with the loss. And if you’re lucky enough to get by with minimal damage, as I was with Irma, remember that you’ll still need time to recover.