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Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma

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posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 02:23 PM
Hello All,

Like most of Florida, we were affected by Hurricane Irma. The eye rolled right over us in Plant City, FL, at Cat 2 strength. I've been here many years, and through more than a few hurricanes, but this was certainly the only time I was right in the thick of such a powerful storm. I have a new respect for a Cat 2 storm....that's for sure.

Anyhow, I like to consider myself somewhat of a prepper. I mean, we had plenty of food, plenty of water (even caring for nearly 50 animals, as we opened up empty stalls for emergency boarding of horses, dogs, even a pig and a monkey, lol.) And we are on a well, so if we lose power, we lose running water.

Well, we were out of power for about 5 full days. While I don't (yet) have a generator, it's mostly because I considered it a luxury. Anyhow, below, I'll detail some things that worked, and then some things that didn't, in the interest of helping others, so more folks get through such events even better.

Before the storm, we bought a lot of bottled water...but not for why you think. We have a fridge/freezer, but also a separate standing freezer. We consolidated all food items into the fridge/freezer. In the standing freezer, we filled it with the bought water bottles (plenty of time before the storm would hit). They were frozen solid when the power went out. Once it did, we stuffed any open spots in the fridge/freezer with the frozen water bottles to help keep things cold. We then limited to opening the fridge/freezer only 3 times a day (for meals). And when doing so, keep feeding the more frozen bottles in.

We had a large cooler, that we had our usual drinks in, before we lost power. We filled this with our drinks and ice, as the storm beared down. Once the power went, we also took some frozen water bottles from the freezer, and put these in the cooler, this, we could access as often as we needed for drinks.

The storm hit mostly at night. Normally, I'd recommend sleeping during this, rather than being bored, but really, we were all too keyed up for it anyhow. Luckily, we were set on lights. We have candles on wall mounted candle holders all over the house. We also have oil lanterns, flashlights, electric lanterns, etc. This made it pretty easy to move about the house and provided plenty of light. We used the electric lantern to provide enough light to play some boardgames while the storm raged.

Scary as it was, (hearing things hit the boards over the windows, etc.), it was really the following days that were challenging. But, we had prepared.

We had plenty of charcoal for the grill. Only had a little bit of propane (one of my mistakes, as even 3 days before the storm, this was impossible to find...rural folks prep before city ones it seems). But, we grilled some meals, etc. Using my little water bottle trick, I still had to THAW some chicken breasts to grill, on day 3! Having enough food was definitely a good thing.

Watering so many animals was fun. We had some large water troughs near each stable, so could just dip buckets in and get needed water. Still harder than just using a hose, but doable. We still had some emergency water barrels for both humans and animals if needed, but never needed to go into them, even after day 5. This was one of the things we did right.

Most of the first couple of days was just picking up mess, lots of yard debris, etc. Had also destroyed my gazebo and above-ground pool. So that sucked. Even took off the roof of a piece of the back porch. Fun.

The one thing I didn't count on...the necessity of A/C in Florida in Sept. I mean, I figured, OK, it'll be hot, but we can do heat. No. No, we can't. It was nearly impossible to sleep in that heat. Hence why I am now getting a window A/C unit in one room, and a generator. That was really our big mistake.

One other mistake...we kept using my truck to charge our cell phones. Well, we should have kept starting it, to do this. We killed the battery at one point. And worse, we had plenty of gas, even spare gas cans, so we could have used them. Fixed this now by getting a solar cell phone charger.


1. Using frozen bottles of water can keep your food in your fridge/freezer good for about 4 to 5 days. That's about 3 more days than I would have guessed, so I was impressed.

2. Definitely gas up and have gas in gas cans, at least 4 days before a storm may hit. About 3 days prior, gas stations run out, and then close.

3. To get high demand items, go to the grocery store the MOMENT they open. Each day before (and after the storm, when power came back), if you were there when they opened, could get water, bread, etc.

4. Get charcoal, propane, and bread (for pb&j) days before the storm.

5. A/C isn't a luxury in FL, it's a NEED. Get a generator if you want to have A/C.

6. For us, and all those animals, having a LOT of emergency water on hand was a must. We used a lot of large troughs to store this, and brought these typically outdoor troughs, INTO the stable area, etc. (so they wouldn't get debris in them).

7. For those with wells, as things come back on in town, pays to have a gym membership (my kids and I went there to get some hot showers, LOL)

8. Also, when things come back on in town (and not for you, if you are rural, as they try and get more back on first), treat yourself to a restaurant meal (and A/C) when they reopen! Man, that was nice.

9. Having a lot of wall mounted emergency lighting was a HUGE help for our well being, and just making us feel more civilized. (and provided light to keep the house clean, etc.)

10. The eye of a storm can move fast. I went out when the calm part was over us (to check on the animals). On my way back from the stables, I caught the approach of the other side of the eyewall, for just a few moments. Luckily, I made it in before it was too bad. Stay inside.

11. Boarding up windows, when you expect a direct hit, is essential. If we didn't board up, we would have had at least two windows smashed in (along with wind and rain getting in the house). There's a good reason you see people do this before a storm.

12. Cell phones are GREAT for keeping up with the storm. Being able to see a satellite image and radar of the storm, even hours after it knocked out power, was awesome and helpful (it's when I knew the eye was over us). They are also great for letting loved ones know you are OK (my wife was in Dallas at the time, for business), and for keeping tabs on their status as well...for example, we invited some family who lived in evacuation areas to come stay with us. They had gone elsewhere, but good to know they were safe (and a good move, as they were out of the really bad stuff after all, lol)....while we got socked. (though not near as bad as Puerto Rico or the Keys, etc. of course).

Anyhow, just wanted to share this stuff, and hope some of it helps others. All in all, we fared really well through a rather horrific thing. Wouldn't want to do it again, but I do feel we are even better prepared for the next one, if there is one. If anyone has any questions, just fire away. I'm not on all that often, but will gladly reply.

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 02:39 PM
That frozen bottled water idea is pure brilliance. Thank you. We had no power for five days as well. Lots of people just kept hanging out at the malls and retailers and the fast food joint. I think it gave enough people a good impression of what could happen with a prolonged power grid failure. The lines at the drive thrus for the fast foods that opened the following couple of days were quite comical too.

Not having A/C only really bothered the wife. She has become spoiled by A/C . It hardly registers for me and the kids. I cut the A/C until she is getting ready to come home. Even then it is a nice 78 F.

Everyone on the block was using their vehicles to charge the phone lol. I intend on buying some the next time a storm is predicted to hit. I want to try and resell them on the corners for some extra cash, HA! After the power failures of this last storm, I am bettign it is a lesson most Floridians have learned now.

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 02:57 PM

originally posted by: Gazrok
The one thing I didn't count on...the necessity of A/C in Florida in Sept.

5. A/C isn't a luxury in FL, it's a NEED. Get a generator if you want to have A/C.

I'm originally from PA, where I was used to shoveling snow in shorts and a tshirt. Long story short, I moved here to Florida to go to this one college. Our power went out for a few days after Irma. I'm leaving soon and will die before I step foot back in this hell of a state. I'm not being sarcastic either, I'd literally rather die.
If you're too cold, you can do any number of things to warm up, like simply putting on proper cold-weather clothing. If you're too hot, well, you're *ed...

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 03:06 PM
a reply to: trollz
oh stop being a wuss and enjoy the humidity! It never snowed in the Garden of Eden. So therefore, God's ideal land is going to be at least 85 F with over 70% humidity. Well, my ideal land anyways

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 04:39 PM
Ok well good .
I lived in Monticello fl when Janice cat 2 hit was a nice few days .
yea had a deep freezer my self ( six boys makes for grocery shopping massive amounts lol )
Now being I did not have a farm i had two bathrooms closed one ( no one use- filled tub now more water for the animals we did have and any general cleaning ( after food prep dishes and such .

Deep frezz yep you guess it filled plastic bottles ( always kept empty milk gallons and 2 liter soda bottles so already had quite a few filled with water and froze ( kept some froze anyway as used in ice chest ) why spend 2.25$ for ice ?

Candles sure solar chargers sure had them long before any storm ( worked out in the sticks it helped )
solar powered driveway lighting O yes they work inside and out and you can buy them for 1 $ at any dollar tree .
I like the solar charging part so had lord knows how many lol really candles were over kill .

My home well built 1950 all hard pine ALL no dry wall even > Loved it .
so inside quiet had a nice relaxing 3 days before power was restored as for ac ??
well maybe south Florida is worse ?? maybe I just dont keep it as cold ? 80 % is what i set in summer so hardly noticed any more hot maybe the mugg part some but was never uncomfortable .

really cant say I could do any thing different as the only thing i even did was fill tub and frezz more water anyway the rest I already had and used .
as for how long the frig stayed froze ?/ it never even started getting warmer stayed cold throug out ( kept a maniacal thermostat in it .
my best guess would be a week before it even started to unfreeze and two before things started going bad .
anyway the only damage was a screen door ( well it needed replaced anyway lol )
cat 2 hu was not impressed but being Monticello is NOT coastal and even has hills the storm just could not effect a well built home ( trailer parks were destroyed .)
The Police chiefs son was darn near killed in a trailer as a tree fell on it wile he was in bed .

But all the old homes on my street not one had damage .

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 05:03 PM
Ps would hardly call it off the grid lol
now what happen before it hit fl that place was off teh grid off the well every thing

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 05:15 PM
If you are on a well, you might see about whether or not you can get an antique hand pump put on it that you can fall back on just in case you are ever in a position where you need water and need to conserve your generator for other uses.

posted on Jan, 8 2018 @ 07:27 PM
One thing you may consider next time ...

You need some power tools. Obviously battery operated.

Most good ones run on 18V and all brands have car charges available.

You can recharge these batteries via the generator, whenever you have it on. You can also charge from your car. Have the car running when you do this.

Now you have power tools available for emergency repairs.

But wait ... there is more!

You can get a radio that works on these batteries. You can get all sorts of torches and area lighting ... it all runs on the same batteries. You can recharge your phones and any other equipment on these batteries as well.

Lastly, if you turn on the generator, then make sure it will run the air-con and at least one freezer at the same time.

An hour or two a day is all you need to run a freezer in an emergency.

What you need to consider is a layered defense. What you must have ... have two ways to get there, three if you can manage it.


posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 12:55 PM
Yep, we have some rechargeable power tools. And with lithium ion batteries, they stay charged for a long time.

If you are on a well, you might see about whether or not you can get an antique hand pump put on it that you can fall back on just in case you are ever in a position where you need water and need to conserve your generator for other uses.

Not exactly cheap though, but I do plan on getting one. We do have an emergency bullet bucket, though while slow, it would at least allow us access to the well if truly needed for survival. Would be a total pain in the ass of course, but works.

I also want to get a solar powered well pump, but that's even more expensive, but really, just a necessity for my prepping. Kind of the basic need, especially with all the animals. Luckily, we have a LOT of water storage though. (as you can imagine, for nearly 50 animals we had here for the storm, for 5 days). Trying to remember, but we had 8 horses, 6 dogs, a bird, a monkey, a pig, 3 bunnies, 6 chickens, and a ton of cats, etc. Was pretty crazy.

Oddly, we're at 10 horses now (our 2 plus 8 boarder horses). Loving that boarder income, but man it's a lot of work each morning before work, and each night when I get home.

posted on Jan, 9 2018 @ 01:00 PM
a reply to: worldstarcountry

Yep, and you don't have to buy bottled water to do it. Just fill up empty 2 liter soft drink bottles and freeze those beforehand. You can also fill zip lock bags with water and freeze them before the power goes out to stick in other little nooks and crannies you need to keep cold.

posted on Jan, 11 2018 @ 09:38 AM
Oh no, you don't want to do ziploc bags. I thought that too...until dealing with bags of water afterwards....leaking!!!

I like the bought bottled water because they are:

1. small, so you can really have options as far as placement (and won't crush food)
2. great for then drinking as they thaw
3. easily used after the storm
4. don't have that wonky bottom 2 liter bottles have

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