Having just gone through Gustav (and it was a wiiiiild ride) I am glad to have had the opportunity to tweak our preps a little bit.
What we did right: Prior to approach, we froze six gallon jugs (cranberry juice containers) of water. Leave a little headspace of air for water
expansion. After the power went out, we left three in the freezer, and put three in the fridge part. 16 hours without power, and everything was
still frozen; everything still preserved in the chilled part.
We filled a cooler with six bags of ice, and only used that ice for chilled drinks, which made us open the fridge and freezer less. We still have ice
in the cooler, and that was three days ago.
We have battery-powered fans, DC-powered fans, and an inverter/deep cycle battery to run a/c fans. Comfort won't save your life, but makes sleeping
without power much easier, and sleep becomes a necessary commodity.
L.E.D. lighting. I can't say enough about this. LED's require very little battery power, keep lighting for a LONG time, and the bulbs (lamps)
rarely, if ever, burn out. We had headlamps, solar-powered yard lights, lantern types. Plenty of lighting and they run just fine on rechargeable
batteries (add a solar-powered recharger for $16.00)
All other systems worked as planned. We elected to stay in the house, figuring that our worst case was a CAT 3. As it turned out, Gustav turned
CAT 2 as it passed over/by us, and shortly went to CAT 3. As it moved away, the windfield expanded, and winds of 124 were recorded at our airport.
We were very lucky.
Buckets: There is always a need for them. Get several. If you have high groundwater, your toilets may not flush. We screwed a toilet seat to a
5-gallon bucket lid with a hole in the lid. yah. You get the idea. Have an extra lid handy to cap it off. Have several buckets. You REALLY don't
want to open them again.
My Bride has a Blackberry, and service to it remained up during the whole event. This was a Godsend, to know the coordinates and shape of the storm.
It really made a difference, plus we were able to email family and friends.
What we did wrong: I boarded up others, mostly our elderly, and since our shutters hang in place, I waited far too long to close them up. I never
want to be that poor [expletive] you see on the news trying to nail up plywood in the wind. Well, I was almost that person, because even though
we've been through several hurricanes, I didn't take into account the forward motion of the storm. It came on us as I was closing and locking down
One of our DC fans made a very disconcerting noise. We've since called it "yum-yum" as it made a noise that sounded like monks chanting. Didn't
bother my Bride, but it creeped me out, especially when I'd wake up in the middle of the night, hearing that sound.
I brought hand tools, lumber and hardware inside, and we have two Xantrex portable power units that can drive drills and a Sawzall. I had plenty of
nails, screws, etc. but no caulking or caulking gun. When the wind-driven rain started pouring through the weep holes in our east windows, I had to
carve plugs out of wood to stop them. Butyl rubber caulking would've been SO much easier, or even epoxy putty in the tube.
I didn't have matches handy for lighting our gas stove (it has electronic ignition). I had waterproof matches in our bugout kit, but it was under
mounds of stacked boxes. My Bride produced a Zippo, which she had found, filled and replaced the flint, saving the day. Both of us quit smoking
last year, so I was surprised she came up with this.
Lastly, I left far too early after the storm passed to assist people with taking off their shutters/plywood. At one point I became part of the
problem, and had to wait an hour while POwer and Light blocked the road to effect a repair. I tried to mitigate this by directing traffic, but I
really shouldn't have been there. I should have been at home, staying out of the way, until summoned to help.
Hope this helps. I don't mind so much making mistakes in the response to a hurricane. I'd hate like hell to not learn anything from it. I will
be too seasoned for my own good just about the time I'm ready to pass on