Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene: 10 Lessons Learned

Now that the East Coast is mopping up after Hurricane Irene, we can quickly parse the lessons learned:
  1. Stay informed.  With some disasters, there is no warning, but hurricanes, wild fires, flooding, and other disasters usually provide for ample warning.  Pay attention to the news and plan accordingly.
  2. Always keep your home stocked with food, water and other necessary items.  It never fails, right as a disaster is scheduled to arrive, the news crews are out videotaping people trying to stock up at the grocery store, fill their cars up with gas, and buy plywood to board up their windows. Don't be one of these people.
  3. Use social media to get the latest info on what's happening.  FaceBook, Twitter, Reddit, text messaging, and emails were the most common way to get immediate information on what was happening.  The hurricane even got it's own Twitter handle here.
  4. Expect that parts (sometime many parts) of the infrastructure will break down. In this case, people were left without electricity, roads were closed, and emergency response was not as quick as usual.  Plan accordingly.
  5. Consider evacuation and have a plan to do so.  Mandatory evacuations are generally...well...mandatory, however there were plenty of people in mandatory evacuation areas who researched the risks and calculated worst case scenarios and decided to stay.  Which ever you decide to do, you of course should take full responsibility for your actions.  And again, plan accordingly.
  6. Be ready to evacuate, just in case.  This includes everything from having a full tank of gas, to having your BOB ready to go, to being able to grab critical items (cash, ID, prescriptions, food, water) and being ready to head out the door at a moment's notice. 
  7. Make a pre-event checklist for disasters that are likely to happen in your area.  Add to the checklist any items that are unique to your situation.  In the case of a hurricane, items on the list may include: tie down or bring in things that could fly away outside (garbage cans, outdoor furniture) and keep your yard free from items that could cause a problem (ie: cut down dying trees, route potential flood waters away from your home, etc).  Additionally if you are responsible for a sick or elderly relative, their needs should be on your list as well.
  8. Realize that disasters can strike anywhere.  An earthquake in Washington DC?  That's pretty rare but it just happened.  A hurricane in Connecticut? Again, rare but it happened last night.  A tornado in Maryland? Ditto.
  9. Work within the limits of technology.  Just a few decades ago, there would be a disaster and people would sit in their cold, unelectrified homes and read a book to pass the time.  These days, if people aren't online 24/7 they go into withdrawals.  Some hints: send text messages instead of making calls on your cell phone right before, during, and right after a disaster since text messages will go through but phone calls won't when the cell towers are overloaded, use the internet on your phone instead of internet at home (with no power your modem probably won't work anyway), and have a way to charge your electrical items in your car should your house be without power for a long time.
  10. Check your insurance coverages.  According to this article, many homeowners impacted by Hurricane Irene won't have the proper insurance coverages to pay for damage done during the disaster. Yikes.
I hope all of our readers who were impacted by the hurricane are safe now.  Clean up will no doubt take a bit of time, but if you were prepared ahead of time, the after effects should be much less than for those who were totally unprepared.


  1. Lessons given hundreds of times in recorded history, and lessons which the ignorant masses choose to ignore. I've lived on the Texas coast most of my life, and every time a storm enters the Gulf it's the same thing we just saw for Irene. A mad rush for plywood, bottled water, batteries, and canned/packaged food. Not to mention beer, ice, and gasoline (as an afterthought). It seems most people will never learn...

  2. For someone new to prepping building a Bug Out Bag can seem like a big task. Everybody you read about has been tweaking theirs for months or even years and has a pile of gear built up. It’s hard to know where to start, but if you cover just all of the basics in a survival situation you will still be much better off that 99% of the people.

    We started with one of the kits (Expedition Extreme from and added copies of important papers, extra clothing and an emergency radio too. It takes only a few minutes to pick out a kit that works for your family and have it shipped to you, instead of driving all over town trying to find all the items you need for a good bug out bag. Then spend a day reviewing the contents and adding your extras. Put it in the hallway closed by the door and it's ready whenever you need it. Total time spent probably 2 hours = Lifetime of Peace of Mind!