Common sense and tropical storms

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

By Susan and Biff Andrews

As we wrote this column, a low-pressure system was forming along the coast of South Carolina and North Carolina. It was a minimal storm, nothing approaching what Harvey has been doing to Texas. Harvey will put 2017 in the record books for rainfall.

But the lessons of the little storms should be pursued in triplicate for the big ones. Herewith, some commonsense preparations for any storm from the tropics.

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If you live in a low-lying area, plan in advance how you will evacuate and do so if requested or ordered. Surely you have a relative on high ground somewhere that you can arrange with in advance for an emergency visit. Or maybe you have a favorite hotel in Raleigh or Lynchburg.

Whatever the case, call ahead and work it out before the wind starts blowing.

Don’t wait until all the gas stations run out of gas on Routes 58 and 460 or along I-64. Gas up days early. Gas up even if you don’t have to leave — gas pumps don’t work when the power is out.

Prepare an emergency kit for the trunk of your car with non-perishable snacks, a 12-pack of water bottles, a flashlight, a blanket and your first aid kit.

None of this stuff “goes bad,” and you ought to have it in the trunk just in case, anyway. You may have to spend the night in the car.

If you plan to stay, check your resources. Canned food supplies for a week taste better if you have a gas grill, gas stove or camp stove, so check propane tanks and have a spare tank or charcoal ready (they won’t go bad either).

Perishables perish, so load up on ice or make your own. Put your water jugs in the freezer and let them serve double duty.

Plan to feed the neighborhood on stuff from your freezer after it’s thawed — right away, while you are absolutely sure it is still good. Don’t take any chances. When in doubt, throw it out!

After Hurricane Isabel, we cooked three dozen softshell crabs and a dozen steaks and enjoyed them with the neighbors.

Help your neighbors, especially the elderly or infirm, who may be blocked by a big fallen branch or who may need medicine. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Run to the drugstore for them if you can. Offer your guest room if their house has damage.

Be a good neighbor. It’s easier if you know them before the wind starts to blow, but there is no time like the present.

To review: if you’re going to go, go early. Gas up and go with supplies. If you’re going to stay, be sure you have supplies and a way to cook them. Check on the elderly and take them in if need be.

A few random notes:

Cash talks; ATMs with no power don’t. Have cash on hand, whether you stay or go.

Toilets flush, even with no power or city water. Put a bucketful of water from the rain, the fish pond or the swimming pool in the toilet tank and flush.

Know where your insurance documents are and be able to assemble them if you get flooded. You’ll need to get them in a plastic bag and get them up high along with other important papers and albums.

Keep your medicines with you. And don’t forget to make plans if you have pets.

In short, think of what could happen. It’s common sense.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at