This article is a guest post by Crazy Prepper Lady. Her story of how she and her husband endured Hurricane Ivan, and learned the need to be prepared, can be found on The Daily Prepper News. This post is their response to living through a hurricane with nearly no prepping prior to the event. ~Josh~
The Crazy Prepper Lady
By Sherry Churchill
My “Come to Jesus” moment occurred during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. My husband and I evacuated our Bayside home, but we only went 30 miles inland because we wanted to return home quickly. It wasn’t enough. Ivan was a borderline Category 4 and Pensacola had a target on its back. We thought we were going to die that night when the hotel roof caved in. We didn’t die, but it changed us forever.
In 2005, we moved to the outskirts of Tampa to be closer to my mom, who is a widow. This area is known for sinkholes, as we all recently learned when a young man sleeping in his bed was suddenly sucked under the earth, never to be found. Meanwhile, the economy took a nosedive, terrorists were going berserk, solar flares were occurring, nuclear disasters were happening, oil spills were increasing, the Mayans prophesied doom, the Egyptians prophesied doom, the Bible prophesies the Tribulation, and all I could think was “Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!!!!”
My head was spinning as I began to research everything I could on disaster preparation. What disaster should we prepare for? How could we afford it? On a retiree’s income, I couldn’t simply buy a ready-kit of food for a year. My husband was on board with my preps, but not THAT on board. He is always thinking about money, silly man. So, rather than buy large kits and expensive items, I had to spend a little bit per month and buy in small quantities.
The first decision I had to make was what disaster to focus on. Hurricanes were number one, given our location of about one or two miles inland on the west coast of Florida. Besides the obvious evacuation plans and supplies needed, even minor hurricanes can bring additional problems if a family were to stay in their home. Power outage, water supply, food and fuel shortages. If we do evacuate, we will want to return home quickly to assess damage and protect our belongings. So, it appeared we had two main preps to gather: Evacuation supplies and long term in-home survival supplies. Long term could mean weeks or months under hardship and without assistance.
At first, I concentrated on evacuation. Large back packs containing mini-versions of what we would need in truly primitive circumstances, such as a hiking and camping scenario. Once the evacuation bags were complete, I prepared two cardboard file boxes (that I could lift by myself). One box was medical supplies and the other was additional tools. These boxes supplement the back-pack supplies. For instance, my hiking bag contains a 5-in-1 tool, but the box contains a larger version of each of the five tools. My hiking bag contains a small first aid kit, and the medical box contains a large kit and other medical supplies. These would be packed into the car for a long ride and hotel or camping situation. As a FEMA rep said during a workshop, “If you are evacuating and stuck on a highway with backed up traffic, you can’t simply run your car and A/C for hours at a time. Be prepared to turn off the engine, open your windows, or even sit outside under a canopy. Be prepared to eat and drink in your car because you won’t be able to pull off the highway to a restaurant.”
Next, I made a list of exactly what needed to be loaded in case of evacuation and where the items were located. Our camping equipment is kept in a cabinet in the garage. When you are in a hurry and stressed, it is easy to forget even important items. So the first thing I will grab is my checklist. I also keep detailed inventories of our food, supplies and locations. All spreadsheets, along with important scanned documents, are on my computer, as well as copies on a flash drive in my back-pack. Walkie-Talkies, emergency radios and a mini-Laptop are ready to go. My motto is: everything has a backup, and every backup has a backup.
Once the evacuation preps were complete, I began to concentrate on at-home survival supplies. A generator is essential to every household. By June 1 of every year (the start of hurricane season), we have at least ten gallons of gas on hand, which my husband uses for our cars in December. I also bought some converters that run off the car battery to power small appliances. Besides our grill, we have a camping stove and a supply of propane canisters.
Next, I beefed up our water sources. We have a pool, so I concentrated on inexpensive ways to filter the water. I bought four five-gallon long-term water storage containers, and a small home distiller that could be plugged into our generator in case I needed to use salt-water from the Gulf. Several bottles of water purification tabs and some other types of filters completed my water preps.
As for food, I began to coupon like a crazy woman. Every soup coupon or BOGO sale was an opportunity to buy hearty soups and canned meats that could be eaten cold if necessary. I date each can and keep a supply of around sixty. Now I buy two cans per month, rotate the cans and then donate the one-year old cans. After that, I also started to pad my other foods, paper goods and ingredients supply. If I normally would keep two of an item on hand, I now keep six or eight. Meanwhile, I order two or so #10 cans per month of freeze dried foods, which have a shelf-life of 20-30 years. I converted our largest walk-in closet to an emergency food and supply pantry. We now have enough for approximately six months, including some to give away to help others.
Last, but definitely not least, we keep carriers and supplies for our cats. They are our children and where we go, they go. We have a list of pet-friendly hotels and always keep extra food on hand. I also have a supply of home-made cat food nutrients for long-term survival.
Every few months, my husband will declare, “Okay, you can stop now”. I nod and then ignore him. Among our friends, none of whom have actually been through a disaster, I’m becoming affectionately known as the “Crazy Prepper Lady”. However, we know exactly who they’ll turn to if something happens, don’t we?