My Hurricane Preparations

When I worked at the National Hurricane Center, I was often asked if such and such a community was ready for a hurricane.  I would usually turn the question around and ask the person posing the question if they had a hurricane plan and if they had made preparations.  Amazingly, many people responded that they had done nothing to get ready.  Recently, someone asked me what preparations I had made for this hurricane season.  I thought it might be worth sharing a few of the things that I have done or am in the process of doing.

One of the most important things that can be done to protect your house is to make every effort to keep the wind out.  Many people who have lost their roofs in hurricanes say that the first thing to go was a garage door, a window, or an entry door.  Once the wind gets inside a home through one of these openings, bad things can happen including losing your roof. 

Today, after living in South Florida for 36 years, I am finally getting accordion shutters on the windows of my home.  I previously had a variety of metal shutters.  Some of these old shutters met the current building code, but some did not.  In fact, some of them were from the pre-Andrew era.  Given that I am usually not around during a hurricane threat, that means that my wife gets stuck putting up our heavy storm panels.  It was time to upgrade to accordions.

I did my homework on getting a good company to do the installation and the work started today.  I also applied to the My Safe Florida Home program (see http://www.mysafefloridahome.com/).  This is a terrific program whose mission is to help Floridians learn how to harden their homes to better protect themselves and their families from windstorm damage.  And the state will match up to $5000 spent on mitigation efforts if you qualify.

I’ll let you know how the accordion shutter project goes.

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5 thoughts on “My Hurricane Preparations

  1. Max,

    I just found your blog today. I wanted you to know that I am prepared!! I have lived in South Florida since 1968. I live in Sunrise, now.

    Every year in the month of May, I start buying my “survival food”. I buy one or two items each time I go to the grocery store. I have a list I use every year. In mid-May, my husband and I take the shutters out, and make sure they are in good condition, and we have all the hardware we need. When June 1 arrives, we trim our coconut palms, and the other trees in our yard. We have a big freezer in the garage, so we start buying a couple bags of ice whenever we go to the grocery store. Then we stay in tune with the tropics, and see what happens.

    When I first moved to Sunrise, in 1984, I was SHOCKED that no one had shutters. I grew up in Miami Beach, and we always had them. I thought everyone did. After Andrew, we got plywood for the windows. So did a lot of our neighbors. Then we started buying steel shutters, one or two at a time. We couldn’t afford to buy them all at once. By the time Wilma arrived, we still didn’t have all our steel shutters, so we used plywood with what we had. Wilma tore up our roof, mowed down our fence, and ripped our screened porch apart. Suddenly we got very serious about the steel shutters, and we have them all, now. We will use the plywood for the outside of the screened porch, with hopes that we’ll never have to re-install screening again. 🙂 We managed quite well after Wilma. We do a lot of camping, so those supplies came in quite handy. Despite having no electricity, we had hot showers, and no spoiled food.

    I use my 3 lists every year: “Pre-Season”, “Hurricane Watch” and “Hurricane Warning”. My lists really help me stay organized when there is a lot going on. I made the lists when my kids were little. They all had jobs to do on those lists, and it helped them learn to be prepared. Now my kids are ages 29, 25 and 21, and they all have lists and their very own “Hurricane Boxes”. I made copies of my lists for friends and relatives. They had to edit them a little, but they also use them every year.

    I’m a little irritated with the people who DO NOT bother making any preparations. There’s no reason we can’t be prepared. It’s not like a tornado or an earth quake. We have ALL THIS TIME to get ready!! We’re LUCKY to live in such a beautiful place, and be able to PREPARE for a season that may or may not bring hurricanes.

    So, I just wanted you to know that I am prepared!!

    Kerry

  2. Pre-Andrew shutters, eh? One of the reasons I bought my home was the Rolladens, which are vintage if not quite as venerable as the house itself. I’ve always felt quite secure and happy rolling them down, but perhaps I should investigate an upgrade — and the state matching funds. Thanks, Max. It’s great to have you still around.

  3. Hi Max,

    Thank you for the information on the safe-home program. I was looking at the information at the link you posted, but it cuts off the right half of the page when viewing. I could not see when the cut-off date for applying is. Could you let me know if there is still time to apply for mitigation efforts, and if there are still funds left?

    Thanks,
    Peter

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