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.
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.