What I Learned Living Through Harvey, by M.S.

from Survival Blog:

I’ve lived through several disasters and learned some thing. The worst events, in my experience, were the World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Sandy in New York City, and then most recently Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas. South East Texas was hit with life threatening, devastating rain fall, which put entire cities under water, turned towns into islands, and crippled the municipal water system of Beaumont. The following is a list of lessons I learned during this experience.

1. I’m not overly paranoid.

I’ve been freedom oriented and interested in prepping for a while, and many of my family and friends think I’m just being overly paranoid. I was hoping this was the case, but unfortunately it’s not.

2. Every disaster, natural or otherwise, presents its own challenges and obstacles.

One common issue is self defense as well as defense of one’s family and belongings. This was a continual struggle while I lived in NYC, since although I managed to obtain a pistol license (which was an incredible challenge), my NYC Pistol License did not allow for carry outside of my residence. Once I moved to Texas, I immediately obtained my concealed carry license. Although I’m guilty of not carrying 24/7, it was certainly comforting knowing I have the ability to carry a gun for defense in instances such as a disaster or crisis. Everyone in Beaumont couldn’t have been nicer, perhaps because no one got to the point of desperation. However, I still carried, and I’m glad I did, just in case it got worse.

 

My petite, disabled wife is a strong believer in carrying concealed. If you ask her why, she’d tell you because there’s no other way she could fend off a 200lb man. I understand there are many people who don’t like guns. My response is to ask them if they dislike guns so much they’d refuse the ability to protect their family.

3. Keeping between one and three month’s worth of shelf stable food in your house is not ridiculous.

Beaumont was only cutoff from deliveries for a few days. Some of the outlying smaller towns were cut off for longer and didn’t benefit from all the MREs being distributed around Beaumont. Having enough food to stay home and not having to venture out into the chaos was priceless.

4. Minimizing injuries became an obvious priority, once the hospitals evacuated and shut down.

Being self-sufficient at home to not only protect my family and dwelling but to reduce the possibility of a car wreck or other accident became a priority.

5. Keep a water storage device on hand and fill it before a storm.

On day three of the hurricane, I finally decided to open my bathtub water bladder. I almost felt stupid filling it up but figured if now wasn’t the time, then when? And, of course, in the back of my mind I figured I was again being overly paranoid. My wife even made a joke while I was filing it. I texted my friends that lived in the area, reminding them to fill their tubs with water in case the water shut off. Only one of my friends actually did it, and ironically she was one of the few that didn’t lose running water. We lost city water the day after the hurricane.

Many people figured the worst was passed and started to relax. I usually keep enough bottled water to last a month, but having that extra amount in the tub that I could use to drink or wash my hands or face with, was priceless. Again, it kept me from having to go to water distribution sites or under-stocked stores.

6. A somewhat eye opener was that I didn’t have enough buckets of water for flushing toilets.

Five-gallon buckets are inexpensive and take up very little room in a shed or garage. In hind sight, if I had had a few, I could have filled them and left them outside. Instead, I had to make alternate arrangements, which was harder than I had anticipated, being that I live in a suburban neighborhood. (I, of course, wasn’t going to waste any of my precious drinking water.) One of the first things I bought after the storm were more buckets and a camp potty. I won’t be caught in that situation again. Many people took buckets or whatever vessels they had and filled them in the river or drainage canals to flush with. This just seemed like an unnecessarily dangerous task for multiple reasons.

7. If you have unscented regular bleach, it can be used for water purification in a pinch.

Luckily, it didn’t get to the point in my situation I needed bleach, but I was ready in case the water in the tub got stale, or I had to improvise water from another source. As a rule, I don’t buy scented or any other type of bleach other than ***regular***amazon.com/Clorox-Bleach-Regular-64-oz/dp/B0014D2BKY/ref= for that reason.

8. Fill the freezer with ice, just in case.

I miraculously didn’t lose power through the whole ordeal but plenty of others did and were without functioning freezers, for days if not weeks. It was nice and important, as with the water and food, to have enough to be able to share with those less prepared or less fortunate.

9. Fill up your gas cans.

I usually keep five gallons of ethanol-free gas. This is enough for my tools and to keep in the truck during a road trip, but it definitely wouldn’t have been enough to evacuate. In Beaumont, the roads opened up quick enough to get deliveries of gas, but some of the smaller, more isolated towns were running out and couldn’t get deliveries. I recently bought a 14-gallon container just to have. I don’t plan on keeping gas in it all the time, but if the time comes to evacuate, with that additional container, I’ve almost doubled the fuel capacity in my truck.

Not having to stop as frequently to gas up during an evacuation is safer and provides more of a possibility that I actually will make it out. During Hurricane Irma, Florida had a gas shortage with bumper to bumper traffic throughout the state. Having enough gas to get out of the danger zone could mean the difference of getting out or getting stranded.

10. Having a generator can make riding out the storm much more pleasant.

I was holding off on getting a generator installed, because of cost. I just called an electrician, and he is coming next month (since there is such a backlog). Suck it up and spend the money, especially if you have babies or children in your household. Just the comfort of being able to turn the lights on or run an A/C does wonders for morale, even when everything else outside is a mess.

11. Try not to accumulate dirty laundry.

I learned about dirty laundry the hard way. We had way too many dirty clothes and no way of washing them, because there was no running water. Luckily we didn’t run out of clean clothes, but it was getting close.

12. Have a garbage bag full of clothes and supplies ready to give out or donate when a storm hits.

We had donated clothes a week before the storm and hadn’t gone through our wardrobes since. During the storm we just went into our drawers and gave away clothes we would have otherwise still worn just to be able to offer something to those who lost everything and were displaced in the shelters. It would have been nice to have been more organized in that respect.

13. You can never have enough garbage bags and zip lock bags.

Garbage bags and zip lock bags were needed at evacuation and shelter sites. That’s something I usually have lots of, and I keep a whole roll of garbage bags in my bug-out bag.

14. Be ready to bug out when the time comes.

Have your vehicle packed with bags, food, water, gas, et cetera and ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Also, when things get bad, be dressed with everything you need to evacuate on you. In other words, 100% essentials must be on your person, such as important documents and medication. You can’t rely on your bag making it. Some shelters were requiring ID to get in. Some shelters also weren’t allowing firearms. Have all that information written down or memorized so you have a plan of where you will go if you have to.

Have a list of people’s phone numbers/addresses, in case you don’t have your phone or it’s not working. Those in shelters that couldn’t get picked up by friends or family had to be flown by military cargo plane to San Antonio and Dallas. The bizarre thing is there have been no reports on the news or otherwise as to where these people are or if and when they’re coming back. It wouldn’t take much to be one of those people.

15. Email all important documents to yourself so that you can access it from any computer.

16. Keep $1,000 cash.

We were late doing a lot of these things, and in a bigger city, such as NYC, such resources would have been unavailable. Monday (during the storm) we were able to get more supplies, gas, and money.

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