This is my dad’s neighborhood. No one got hurt, but it took me a couple of days to finally reach him to hear this firsthand. The cell towers near their home were damaged, and without power and only cordless phones, I couldn’t reach them via their landline.
They are able to stay in their home despite most of the roof being gone and all of the upstairs windows. They have a generator, so the contents of their refrigerator and freezer are safe. It’ll be an uncomfortable few days until power is restored, but the damage wasn’t widespread, so they can easily buy more water if needed. They are lucky.
Now they are dealing with the unpleasant task of dealing with their insurance company and trying to find people to hire to help with the cleanup and repair.
Emergency preparedness isn’t just for hardcore survivalist types.
Sit down with your family and create a plan.
Make sure every family member knows where they should be or go in case of severe weather.
Does everyone in the house know where to go if there is a fire? Pick a nearby rally or rendezvous point that everyone knows so you can quickly get an accurate headcount.
Create an emergency pantry with at least 72 hours’ worth of food, more if you live in a rural area, if you’re not on the same power substation as a critical community service, your power restoration is low priority.
The Home-Ec 101 Annual Hurricane Season Reminder is a good place to start if you’ve never thought about what to have on hand for emergencies.
Remember, there are many kinds of minor emergencies that can snowball quickly.
Do you have school-age children that ride a bus or walk home?
Talk to them about what to do if you are ever not home when they arrive. Talk to your neighbors, figure out who they can talk to and who will just call child protective services. Carefully teach your children who they can trust.
Flat tires and dead cellphone batteries happen at the worst of times. Kids leave backpacks at school and on the bus. (Heck, my kids have left their sleeping siblings on the bus. That was a fun afternoon. . .)
Do you have teens who can drive? Do they know where to go if you’re not together and they can’t get home? Keep an actual, paper map with directions and alternate routes in the glove box.
Aside: When I was trying to get ready to get to Seattle after I received news about my sister, I got lost in a neighborhood I’ve driven through for many years. Shock can make thinking clearly very difficult. Keep the plans simple.
Getting everyone safely through an emergency should be your number one priority. It would also be nice if, once everything has calmed down, you didn’t have to pay for all of the damage out of pocket. Make sure your insurance is in order. Check your insurance plans, even if you rent. Remember, a property owner’s insurance covers their property –the structure– not yours –the contents.