For the last week or so everyone on the Gulf Coast has had their eye on Tropical Storm Isaac. The predictions have been less than specific with freakouts everywhere from Panama City beach to now Eastern Texas. Regardless of where the actual eye of the storm makes landfall, it is no doubt that thousands of people will be affected by this storm in some way or another.
As a long-time Gulf Coast resident, I know a LOT about how to prepare for these storms. And of course, all of the major news stations have their "hurricane preparedness" lists. But there are a few things I wanted to add - from a true "been there, done that, this is what you will ACTUALLY need" perspective.
1. Bug spray. In the days following a storm like this, the mosquitoes will come back with a vengeance. If you are without power, often it is more comfortable outside in the shade than it is inside your stifling hot house. After Hurricane Erin we found it coolest to sleep outside in our Blazer where at least we could get a breeze... and 35 mosquito bites.
2. Sun Screen. Just like with the bug spray - you are probably going to be outside a lot. Trust me when I tell you hat you do NOT want to be suffering from sunburn while having no air conditioning. This is talking from experience people. After Hurricane Ivan, I spent days in the sun moving debris - one day sunburning so badly I could hardly move. There was no relief other than to wait it out.
3. Frozen towels. Ok, this sounds crazy - but hear me out here. In the days before the storm, take a few towels, wet them and squeeze out the excess, and then fold them up and put them in your freezer. They should freeze but still be "bendy" so you can use them as needed. These will come in handy to put on your face and neck after being out in the heat. They can also be used for cold compresses if you get a minor injury moving debris and such. Plus, trust me when I tell you that you realize just how much you take for granted being able to "just cool off" after a few days of no air conditioning.
4. Baby wipes. Baby wipes will come in handy for numerous things - from cleaning cuts to "bathing" when you can not shower. The water systems are sometimes contaminated with these storms plus having no power will make for a cold - and dark! - shower.
5. Propane. We all know to fill up our gas tanks in our cars, but make sure you have a full propane tank for your grill as well. All that stuff defrosting in your freezer? Cook it up and invite the neighbors over for a cookout! Sometimes in situations like these, we have to choose to make the best of it - so invite your neighbors to bring their defrosting meats as well and have a nice cookout and get to know one another.
6. Gardening gloves. Even Tropical Storms can cause fallen tree limbs and debris. Protect your hands with some nice strong gloves to help clean up your yard without looking like you tried to wrestle a kitten.
7. Board games, puzzles, playing cards. It is amazing how dependent we have become on electronics and how "go play outside" is almost a foreign concept. Especially when you have children, you will need to have things to do to keep them busy during the long, hot days of... well, nothing to do. Save your sanity and have a few things ready to keep the kids busy.
8. Snacks that do not require cooking. Go ahead and pop the popcorn, gather the healthy snacks, and be prepared to graze for a few days. When you combine "nothing to do" with no power or electronics and add in a side of picking up debris - you are going to need to make sure you eat plenty of food. Though I do recommend healthy snacks since they will have more lasting power than the junk, I recommend you snatch the batteries out of your scale to put in your flashlights because this is not the time to care what you weigh. Nourish your body and stay healthy during this time. Your body is as freaked out as you are - treat it well so it will serve you well.
9. Water. Not Coke. Not tea. Not beer. Not even wine. (well, not much wine) You must, must must stay hydrated and you absolutely should not drink tap water. Coke, tea, beer, and wine will dehydrate you big time. As much as I love a good "Hurricane Party" I am speaking from experience when I warn that a hangover is a thousand times worse when you can not get cooled off (no air conditioning) or cook any real food (like my Hangover Spaghetti) to help in your recovery.
10. A chill pill. Listen, people, we are all in this together. No one is any more entitled to the ice being handed out by the Red Cross than anyone else. I don't care what you drive, where you live, how much money you do or do not have - this sucks for all of us. Hang your sense of entitlement up at the door and act like a decent human being. Do not fight over food at the grocery store, show your ass at a gas station trying to jump in front of someone else, or take up 200 square feet with your unnecessary crap at a storm shelter. Act like adults and not children.
If you are in the path of Tropical Storm (Supposed to turn in to a Hurricane) Isaac I send all of my best wishes for minimal damage. Here in Pensacola we are still getting prepared - even if it means heading west to help our Gulf Coast neighbors with clean up. Hurricanes are a part of living in Paradise. Relax, remember that "This Too Shall Pass" and that we can not control the weather, but we can control how we react to it. Be prepared and make the best out of a not-so-paradise-like situation.
Can you think of anything else I left off the list that isn't on the "Official" lists?