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Hurricane Irma Preparedness Guide

September 7, 2017

 

We have would like to share some of the best tips for preparedness that were compiled by our friends at the Urban Paradise Guild of South Florida:

 

Hurricane Prep & Planning – Please SHARE
(Be sure to share the original post from the UPG page or you lose these tips.)

I’ve collected some tips based on harsh experiences for your convenience, and added more from others, but they are not comprehensive.

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The County links are great: evacuation zones, shelters, disabled info & help, pet info, tips of many kinds.
http://www.miamidade.gov/hurricane/
http://www.broward.org/hurricane/Pages/Default.aspx

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Note: This is not comprehensive, and YOU are responsible for your family’s safety and welfare.

I may update from time to time, and others may post their tips on comments. Please only use this as a starting point.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
When in doubt: get out.

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Neighbors for Resilience

Wherever you are sheltered, check in on your neighbors.
Elderly and special needs populations may need more help.
Get to know them, and be prepared to render assistance.
Exchange phone numbers.

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This info is provide as a public service of Urban Paradise Guild.
“Protecting South Florida from Climate Change since 2008.”
We do this through Volunteer-Powered projects including Habitat Restoration, Nursery and Agriculture for low-income families, and Seeds for Haiti.

You are invited to join us!
FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/urbanparadiseguild/
Volunteer Opportunities 6x per week: http://urbanparadiseguild.org/calendar/

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Should you EVACUATE for a Hurricane? Inform Yourself NOW.
Storm-Surge kills far more people than winds do.
To be Safe, be Informed. Feel free to SHARE.

It doesn’t matter how tough your house is, if it is under-water, you will drown. Don’t think being personally resilient or macho will save you. Waves will wash away cars – humans have very little chance.

If you are in an Evacuation Area, and the County says your zone should Evacuate, then: *** Head for High Ground! ***
Don’t wait for the day of the storm, you do NOT want to be caught on the road in a Hurricane!

More on shelters below.

See the Miami-Dade Flood Zone maps now so you can make informed decisions NOW. Plan Accordingly.
http://gisweb.miamidade.gov/floodzone/
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If you are in a HIGH-rise and depend on elevators, you may need to evacuate.
Being above the storm surge doesn’t mean you are safe.

Older buildings may not have impact-resistant glass, and may have old shutters. Windspeeds get stronger the higher up you are.

If you lose power, you lose elevators, air conditioning, your stove, all the stuff you need to survive.
Your apartment could become an oven.
Being trapped in a tall building is no joke.
It is 10x worse for elderly and special needs populations.

This article has much more.
http://amp.miamiherald.com/real-estate/article168905202.html

More on shelters below.

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Not all Hurricanes are equal. Windspeed, direction, tidal state, and many other variables will determine your risk. Hurricanes can change course at the last minute.

Should you Evacuate? Evaluation Steps:
1. Check the official map. Are you in an evacuation area?
If YES: Find a shelter (a friend or an official Hurricane Shelter).
If NO: Lucky You! See #2.

2. If you are on high ground, is your house Hurricane Ready? Does it meet modern codes for Hurricane Straps, Shutters, Windows, etc.
If your house was built pre-1975 or post-1992, it is probably solid.
If YES: Stay put. Consider inviting friends who need shelter over.
If NO: Find a shelter (a friend or an official Hurricane Shelter).

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IMPORTANT TIDE NOTE For Irma
Tides will be about 12″ higher when Irma comes to visit, which might be near High Tide. This will BOOST the Hurricane Storm-Surge by up to 12″.
* Lunar High Tides are happening, about 6″ higher than usual.
* The “El Nino Bulge” caused by low pressure is causing tides to be around 6″ higher than forecast.
This impacts both Storm-Tide (and Surge) flooding in coastal areas, as well as drainage inland. This means YOU could face more severe flooding before dawn.

Take this into account as you plan, especially regarding evacuation.

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Planning & Shelter Considerations – if you have to Evacuate…

Evacuation is chaotic and stressful, so the more you prepare the easier it will be.
What do you absolutely have to save? Personal records, birth certificates, family heirlooms, pets… make a list, and be prepared to pack everything. Consider putting items in a safety deposit box or storage unit (on high ground).

What do you need after the storm, if your house is gone? Car, bedding, money, clean clothes, toiletries, food, flashlights, identification, a tent, camping gear, pet food, water, kids toys, computer and charger, phone and charger, medicines.

Bring a paper utility bill or other official correspondence which has your name and address on it. This may be requested to re-enter your neighborhood after the storm (if police are on looter alert).

Fill your car with gas, since some stations close…. this is just a starting point.

Make a list, and be prepared to pack. If it won’t fit into your vehicle, you have too much.

Got children? Make a kid plan, and if they are old enough, ask them to help (it is better than them just being stressed). School materials, games, activities, magazines, Art supplies, medications, diapers, formula, clothing, etc…

Got pets? Make a pet plan. Your shelter must accept them. Make sure you have food, medicines, leash, pet carrier or mobile cage, and basically anything they will need. If you have an outdoor cat, have a plan for grabbing them at feeding time, before the storm arrives (or they may hide or go under the house).
Animals can get stressed, so if yours is high-strung, some doggie downers may be advisable.

Humane Society Pet Shelter & Planning:
http://www.humanesocietymiami.org/…/Hurricane-Preparedness-…
“For a list of pet-friendly hotels and boarding kennels in Greater Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Naples and other surrounding areas that may accept your pet in the event of a hurricane, go to www.officialpethotels.com.

Got special needs or health problems? You may need a special shelter. Plan accordingly. If your health depends on electricity, make sure you have a shelter with power.

Do laundry to ensure you have enough clean clothing…
Run the dish washer (so you won’t have a stanky house when you return).

House Prep:
If you have to prep your home, know what needs to be done. Know how to put up shutters. Leave a lot of extra time to do it. If you need power tools like cordless drills to put in screws and nuts, charge your batteries now.

In case water gets into your home:
Flooding might happen, so if it is inches or feet, stuff on the floor will be immersed.
Prioritize placement at high elevations based on value (personal or financial).
Put valuables on top of closet shelves, dressers, beds, up in the attick space.

Yard Prep:
Remove lawn furniture and other stuff from the yard that will blow away.
Tie other stuff down. This includes stuff that could float away.
Fill up your canoes with water and tie them up.

Before you leave:
Check your lists. Get everything packed.

****
Take a shower, it may be the last one for days.
****

Do a walk-through.
Close interior doors (in case a window/shutter is lost).

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IF YOU EVACUATE NORTH – DRIVING

There are reports of localized traffic jams. It could get worse.
Don’t get stuck in some silly jam, burning gas you can’t easily replace.

Use Google Maps or a similar traffic app to see where it is bad.

This is the link from my Google…
https://www.google.com/…/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x88d9b0a20ec8c111…

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INSURANCE: Prep for the CANE!
(Doing this could avoid massive hassles if you have to file a claim.)

Block out an hour of your schedule – during daylight is best – maybe a Saturday morning.
1. On a blank sheet of paper, make a rough diagram of the rooms in your home or business.
2. Number them #1, #2, #3 and so on until all rooms and hallways have an number.
Don’t forget to number outside spaces where you store things, attics, basements, etc.
3. Make sure that whatever you use to record video (camera, phone) is well-charged.
4. Enter Room #1, and before filming, open all drawers, closets and remove items from under beds, etc.
Starting with Room #1, record a video of the entire room from left to right, top to bottom, 360 degrees.
Record slowly so that all items can be seen clearly.
5. Take jewelry, electronics, artwork and other valuable items out and make sure they are filmed as well.
6. Take an extra moment to film the serial numbers of all electronic and computer equipment.
7. As you finish a room, mark it off your paper diagram until all have been filmed.
8. Upload the video(s) to Google Drive, Dropbox or other cloud storage.
9. You’re done.
God forbid you ever suffer a loss, you will be ready to make sure that everything is replaced.
No headache.
Pass this along to a friend or business associate. Or share it on your favorite Social Media. It can make ALL the difference.
Remember, Risk Management is Everyone’s Business.

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Water for Your Home

Remember your water heater holds 40+ gal water good to drink. Just turn off the incoming valve to the tank when the storm is eminent, there’s a drain on the bottom of the tank. No need to panic over water. (Jeff Dorian suggestion)

For flushing the toilet (if water goes out):
Fill your tub, and be sure that the drain is really plugged.

Drinking Water:
If you have empty jugs, you have probably already filled them.
Water coolers, ice chests and other food-quality containers can be cleaned and filled.

For non-food containers, wash first, then use a new trash bag secured around the top. Trash cans, recycle bins, buckets… be creative.

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What is a good Shelter for YOU?

Government shelters are safe. They are on high ground. Don’t expect comfort, you will probably end up sleeping on the floor of a classroom, gym or cafeteria.

Expect minimal privacy. They may not have showers. They don’t usually welcome pets (check first).

Be kind to everyone.
When you are stuck with others (friends, relatives, total strangers), always try to be friendly. Remember that EVERYONE is under stress, and some are probably have an even tougher time than you are. Some may be dealing with PTSD, anxiety, and other conditions.

Hospitals may offer shelter if you have special needs. Make arrangements in advance.

Friends are best, if you get along well. If you hang out, you will quickly discover just how compatible you are! Always remember, you are a guest, and be very thankful for the shelter. Offer to help out with prep and chores. Be a team player. Follow house rules. Wash the dishes.

Going “out of town” may not work. If the Cane follows you to your shelter, you may have done a lot of driving for nada, and even exposed yourself to risk (car breakdown in a Cane would be bad).

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Driving in flooded areas

Don’t do it.
At least, exercise extreme caution.

The thing that looks like a puddle could be a 10′ deep canal.
People die this way.

Even if it is a road, it doesn’t have to be very deep to flood and stall your car.

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Parking your vehicles

Do choose higher ground if in an area that can flood.
Do park close to a strong building, since it can provide shelter.
Do park in a parking lot full of cars, providing mutual shelter.

Don’t park under large trees, which can fall or drop large branches.
Don’t park near salt water, even blown spray can rust your vehicle.
Don’t park where it floods.
Don’t park in underground garages (which will flood), even on high ground.
Don’t park on the exposed top floor of a garage (which will get higher windspeeds).

City of Miami Residents:
There is a program to shelter one car per household in a City garage.
Pre-registration is required. Info here:
https://www.miamiparking.com/miami-vehicular-protection/

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IF you are TRAPPED in your home during flooding…
(You should have evacuated, but didn’t do so.)

Call 911 and tell them your situation and address.
Put your cell phone in a ziplock bag, and place it in a secure pocket.

Don’t go into your attic: rising water could trap you without an exit and drown you.
(If you have an axe and know how to use it… maybe.)

Get rope, or make it from torn up bed sheets.
Exit from the down-wind side of your house (if possible).
Tie yourself to the vent fittings on top of your home.
Tie yourself into a strong tree.

60 people have died in Houston & Harvey impact areas, most due to drowning.
All of those who stayed thought that they could survive.
Think about that.

Please protect yourself and your family. Be proactive.
Your property is not worth your life.

The REAL solution is to EVACUATE when you are told to do so. .
When in doubt: get out.

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GENERATORS & Candles

Never run a generator inside. They create Carbon Monoxide, which will kill you before you know it. Don’t use an enclosed garage or utility room, since you could die if you enter it.

If you don’t have a professional generator shed/cabinet outside…
* Keep your genny inside and safe during the storm (but don’t run it).
* After the storm, use your covered porch, carport or large overhang to protect it from rain.
* You can create an easy lean-to out of a sheet of plywood…
* Don’t run your genny next to an open window!
* Lock up your genny with a bike cable to keep the honest people honest.

Take care with candles and open flames.
The last thing you want is to have a fire that forces you out into the storm!
Using candles enclosed inside glass tubes is good (and many come with saints and religious figures).
Placing candles on a safe spot away from flamable stuff where they won’t get bumped is wise.

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Reading Materials & Entertainment…

Be prepared for hours of boredom.
Expect to lose power and the internet and maybe cell service…
OMG…

Download the stuff you want before you lose power and internet.
Create a stash of reading or movies or shows to watch…

Of course there is the low-tech paper based approach, board games…

Adult interpersonal entertainment is a traditional standby.
No power or light needed.

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LOST POWER & Refrigerated Food

If you don’t have a dedicated generator, you may lose power.
If your power goes out, it could take DAYS or WEEKS for it to be restored.

Then what?

1. Freeze a lot of water before the storm to buffer the fridge.
2. Pack a chest cooler with ice and perishables (it is better insulated than the fridge).
3. Freeze Jugs don’t fill your cooler with water when they melt (but the water can contain dioxins, so best not to drink it).
4. Cook several meals before you lose power. Fill up your tupperware or ziplocks.
5. Freeze more food to fill up your freezer and fridge with cold stuff. Move from Freezer to Fridge.
6. DON’T open your fridge or leave it open – keep it shut to hold cold in.
7. After the storm: COOKOUT time! Use it or lose it.
Your frozen meats mean a party!
8, You CAN cook a recently frozen pizza on a BBQ grill.

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DARKNESS after the Storm

If we lose power, we loose light (and air conditioning, refrigeration, stove, etc.)

Many American city dwellers have never experienced “full darkness”. We take the glow of City Lights for granted…

When that is gone, everything changes. Deep velvet blackness changes everything. The familiar becomes strange, and the unknown can become scary.

Expect this and plan for it. Personal flashlights for everyone, lanterns for the group, charge all batteries or have spares…

The moon is full on 9/6… bad for tides (see above) but good for visibility… once it rises.

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COMMUNICATIONS
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Apps:
There are several apps being shared. I don’t know enough about them yet to make any recommendations. I will add info when I can.

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Comcast / XFINITY WiFi, Hacking & Secure Login

XFINITY is opening up all their WiFi hotspots for free public use… BUT… I am not sure if your public login would be secure from hacking. If your life is stored on your phone – banking, purchasing, logins… getting hacked could be really bad for you.

TIP: If you are a Comcast / XFINITY customer:
1. Confirm your login, or create a new one. Go to their website: https://login.comcast.net/login and start the process.
2. Store the info on your phone or computer.
3. To login, look for “xfinitywifi” and login using your account info.
4. Before you lose internet, find hotspots near your hurricane hideout so you will know where to go (below).

Hotspot Locations:
Find them at http://wifi.xfinity.com/
The tend to be clustered in retail areas along major roads.
Note that if the location loses power and has no generator, there is probably no functional hotspot.
Exceptions: business with generators.
Find them by driving down the road slowly (but safely). A passenger monitors the hotspots detection until you find a live one.

Article about this service.
http://www.miamiherald.com/…/hurricane/article171585397.html
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Prep Tips (credited to NWS). These are good common-sense tips.

Attached is an excellent list from the National Weather Service in Miami, but @Alicia Zuckerman (WLRN) has a few suggested changes and additions:

1. For a big storm like Irma, you need enough water to drink for 7 days. The water does NOT have to be bottled. You can simply buy water containers and fill them with tap water.
2. Get a plastic sheet to line the tub. Then you can fill your tub with water without it leaking out. You’ll use this to flush the toilet and for basic cleaning if the water goes out.
3. Have enough food on hand to eat for 7 days – food bars and other packaged food is good.
4. Buy a large number of Ziploc-like plastic bags – large and small. You’ll use them to protect papers and other valuables AND you’ll fill them 3/4 full of water and stuff the freezer full. Do that by midweek to be sure they are frozen when/if the power goes out over the weekend. It will keep the refrigerator colder. Do NOT set your fridge on the lowest setting.
5. Get a portable radio that receives AM and FM. NOAA radio is good, but doesn’t get you information on evacuations and other instructions. Get batteries.
6. Get LED flashlights and/or lanterns. They run forever on fewer batteries. But you still need plenty of extra batteries.
7. Get large plastic bags. They are invaluable for keeping valuable things dry if you have a leak.
8. Get large plastic boxes. If you put your valuables, photos, and papers in plastic bags inside the boxes, they will likely be okay.
9. Get plastic sheeting and plenty of duct tape.
10. Do your laundry this week!
Now is the time to review these lists and THINK. What are you going to do if the storm comes? I would take action on getting supplies now. There is nothing on the lists that you can’t keep and use.
Hurricane Irma is strengthening and on an ominous path. Full preparation should be underway in the northern Leeward Islands and will be needed very soon in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the northern D.R./Haiti, and the Bahamas.
In Florida, due to the large number of people that may have to prepare, good sense says to do it early. It is impossible to know how bad the hit will be, but all of the evidence points to a significant threat. TODAY is the day to begin the preparation process.
Review your plan and take the first steps.

http://www.miamidade.gov/hurricane/

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