Lessons Learned From Hurricane Harvey: Preparedness

Based on my experiences during Hurricane Harvey I have identified a good bit of stuff (gear) that I wish I had, had more of, or lost. I thought I would share it with you to help you in your preparedness planning.

Good Raingear – I do believe I was wet for about five days straight. Most of that time I wasn’t just wet, I was soaked. Being wet all the time really drained me. I had a cheap set of raingear in my emergency supplies and I did end up pulling it out only to find that it really didn’t fit and wasn’t durable. It was coming apart by day two. I did (finally) drag out my rain boots and they helped a lot but they were a little snug. They survived the flood but I will be replacing them with a pair that fit a little better. Of course, even the best raingear is useless in water up to your chest…

Electric Pump – I borrowed one from a friend after my pool pump failed at the most inopportune time. Now, I want my own. It can be used for the pool but could also be used for siphoning fuel or other drainage needs.

Wet/Dry Vac – These were essential in both the early stages of cleanup as well as later in the process as well. Initially they were used to help remove water from the house. Later for cleaning up drywall dust and debris. I have already purchased one but my need to replace it before this is all over. I am also thinking about having a spare. If you buy one or have one you might want to think about an extra filter and extra bags. I went though the one bag that came with the unit on day one and we’re waiting on spares to arrive. The filter has been cleaned several times already and is looking a little worse for wear. A spare for that is on order as well.

Shop Broom(s) – Another item that is essential for initial cleanup as well as clean up of the demolition. I had one at the start of this but it has been “donated” to someone else in need. I’ll buy a couple when I get around to replacing it.

Prybars – I had two but one’s gone. They are essential items for tearing out what need to be torn out. I have one in my get home bag that is narrower and better designed to get into things. The ones we found useful are wider and much better suited to this kind of work. I have already ordered a replacement for the one that walked away.

Utility (or drywall) Knives – I had several of these around the house before the flood hit. Couldn’t find but one afterwards. They weren’t swept away they were in boxes and drawers that were moved to the garage or another part of the house and can’t be found. I have bought a couple more and an extra pack of blades. I’ll add a few more when I can as there never seemed to be enough to go around.

Headlamps -Yes, they look goofy but those little headlamps on elastic bands were one of the most useful items I had on hand. Just, please, remember to turn them off when talking to someone. Nothing worse that staring into an “interrogation lamp” when having a chat about what needs to be done next.

Storage Locations

All of our emergency gear and many of our emergency supplies were stored downstairs. Partly this was because I was more concerned about wind damage or a tree falling than flooding and this was also partly due to available storage locations. Regardless this was a bad idea.

All of it was downstairs and at risk of flooding and loss. Although much of it was in waterproof containers, those containers floated around making it hard to locate them. The tubs are black making them difficult to find in the dark or low light. Folks helping us out moved them and re-approprated the tubs for other uses.

The bottom line is that these items should probably be staged in multiple locations and in more visible containers. A lot of what we needed couldn’t be found until days later so really think through where and how you store your gear and supplies.

Although I prepared a get home bag for Wonderful Wife she wasn’t familiar with it or what was in it. She took it with her on her stay at work but didn’t open it. There was a lot that could have made her stay away from home more pleasant and comfortable.

Want To Have Items

Disaster Capable Vehicle – I have a Honda Civic be cause it is cost effective transportation. It it not terribly well suited for getting around during a disaster. I would really like to have a vehicle that is better equipped for high water and rough terrain. Based on what we are currently facing in terms of rebuilding that will NOT be added to the short list of things to buy in the near future.

Better Communications -My cell was soaked on several occasions and started having some serious issues communicating. The cellular network was overloaded and in many cases close to failure. It would be nice to have another communications mechanism for a disaster. I have been meaning to invest in some shortwave walkie talkies but haven’t done so. These would be a very good idea.

A Drone – It would have been nice to be able to scout the level of flooding nearby without risking my vehicle or safety. While the wind and rain were too strong for drones to fly during most of the time. It would still be cool. This is another time that I would like to have but is not high on the old priority list.

I hope my experiences and observations help a little with you preparedness efforts.

God Bless!

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Lessons Learned From Hurricane Harvey: The Cost Of Arrogance

The most important takeaway (for me) from Hurricane Harvey is the cost of arrogance. Just a hint, it can be very high.

I did not take Hurricane Harvey seriously. It was initially expected to make landfall as a tropical storm, I have driven to and from work during tropical storms. It was projected to hit well south of us (it did but not as far south as predicted). What’s to worry about?

We have weathered hurricanes in my home with no issue before (Rita and Ike). We have been fine in the worst flooding on record; Tropical Storm Allison and the big flood back in the 1990’s that wasn’t related to any named storm.

On top of all that we are far better prepared than I was for any of those. Food, water, generator, fuel, supplies, equipment that I didn’t have for any of the previous threats. My daughter and son-in-law were “freaking out” about the possibility of their house flooding. “Calm down,” I said, “my house will flood long before yours and we have never flooded…”

Famous last words, eh?

My arrogance has cost me, big time.

Had I taken this seriously I could have moved more stuff up and out of harm’s way. I would have been less likely to overlook important things like shoes, clothes, or irreplaceable photos and mementos. Had I taken the threat of a flood seriously, we could have purchased flood insurance…

When it comes to preparedness, we all have our assumptions and little areas of arrogance. What are yours? It might be a good time to reexamine those.

God Bless!

Live-ish Tropical Storm Harvey Updates

It’s been another long day….

It started off looking pretty good. The skies were overcast but there hadn’t been nearly as much rain overnight and there had been no new tornado alerts through the night. I took advantage of the lull to check for damage around the house. When I walked to the front of the house I noticed a car parked if front of the house and that’s when my heart sank…

Folks down the street had moved their cars in front of our house because the water was rising. We have never seen water in our street even during Tropical Storm Allison but there it was. I walked down to check it out and was shocked.

The view down my street this morning…even before coffee
This drainage area usually only holds a trickle of water, it’s not overflowing.

I spent the morning packing what I could into the car and taking the rest up to the second floor. My son in law and I both made a trip to bring what we could to his house and then I rested for a bit and then went back in for whatever else I could get. The water was higher but just low enough that I could get through but that will be the last trip in until the water recedes.

It was incredibly emotional driving away from your home of 18 years and having no idea what, if anything would be left when you are able to get back to it.

Wonderful Wife is on the other side of the river and no way for me to get to her or vice versa. She will stay with her “old folks” until the water recedes or they are evacuated to someplace else. They are not at risk of flooding but the wind and water have caused a number of roof leaks. They have enough food on hand for two or three more days. Hopefully, the roads will be clear and they will be able to resupply before that happens.

The National Hurricane Service models show the storm backing off the coast, probably strengthening and then heading almost directly for us on this part of the coast. Not the best of news.

There are still a lot of folks affected by this storm that are in far worse shape than we are, please keep them in your prayers.

God bless

What Did You Prep This Week?

Note: I write these posts on Fridays and schedule them to be published on Monday morning. So, a lot has happened with the hurricane and already posted since this piece was written.

Walk With God

Made it to Church and Sunday School this week. There is still a lot of room for improvement in my walk with God.

Self Defense/Hunting

I decided to pick up some ammo this week, 40 rounds of 300 BLK and 40 rounds of 5.56, to replace what I have been using at the range.

I also picked up a shell holder to use for 300 Blackout. Yes, I already have at least one that is the right size but I’m kind of weird in that I put the appropriate shell holder in the box with the die set it is used for so I never run the risk of getting them mixed up, even if it means spending an  extra $5 for a duplicate shell holder. I don’t have the die set for 400 yet but I will start decapping and cleaning the brass I have so it is ready when I do buy the die set.

Supplies/Gear

With the threat of a hurricane my son in law picked up a bunch of water for his house. Since he was getting it pretty cheap I went ahead and had him pick me up a couple extra cases as well. I don’t think I will need them but might was well. We ended giving one away to someone what needed it more than we did.

Finances

We were able to put some more money in savings this week from Wonderful Wife’s last paycheck. Based on that deposit we reached the savings goal we set for ourselves about a year ago for the amount money we wanted to have as a ready reserve. We have decided we are not going to set another goal immediately. We have some home repairs and improvements we want to make, we want to purchase some land for retirement, and we also want to spend some money on a nice vacation next year so we will still continue to try and set as much as possible aside each paycheck just allocate it for these items.

Fitness/Health

Nothing, I really need to focus on getting more exercise.

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this week. How about you? What did you Prep this week?

God Bless

Live-ish Tropical Storm Harvey Updates

It was a pretty busy day or so. As the rains started yesterday so did the alerts and warnings. So did the panic level of some in my family. My middle daughter (normally the most logical and level-headed of the bunch) became convinced at about 1:30 AM that if the went to sleep they would be drowned by the rising flood waters and wanted everyone to begin preparations to be rescued by helicopter or boat…

Of all our houses hers is the least likely to flood and none of us are in a flood zone.

Since she woke us up anyway and to settle Wonderful Wife’s new found concerns (if middle daughter was that upset there must be something to it after all) we headed out into the darkness to check the level of the waters near our home. Once we checked those and saw nothing to worry about we went on to check the river level (over four miles away), her work, and then my mother in law’s place. Water levels were high and it was obvious that some areas that normally flood were at risk but there was nothing that would pose a risk to our homes.

While we were out another rain band moved in and it was time to start the makeshift pool pump and drain the water again. So, there was not much sleep to be had. Finally, Wonderful Wife went ahead and packed a bag and headed into work. When other people’s lives are your responsibility sometimes you just have to do what you need to do and she left me to keep watch on the house. Which consisted of checking the weather, checking the water level in the pool and draining it as needed.

It also meant finding someone with a truck to help me run some errands for her through the high water. With the massive amount of rainfall the roof of the facility she manages began to leak and she needed buckets and some other supplies to help catch and clean up the water. Then we lost contact with her mom and had to go check on her. She was fine, she forgot to charge her phone…

Apparently the flooding drove at least one unicorn out of hiding…
View from a local shopping area, the river is about 12 feet above normal

All told it was a stressful and tiring day but nowhere near as tiring or stressful as those flooded out of their homes, trapped in cars and seriously affected by the flooding from (now) Tropical Storm Harvey. We may have lost some sleep but others have lost everything. Some have even lost their lives. From that perspective we are incredibly blessed.

Thank you Lord.

Please say a quick prayer for the thousands of people in and around Texas who have lost and suffered so much already. Keep us all in your prayers as the weather reports are saying this could go on for several more days…

Goodnight and God bless.