Military families rarely get hometown orders — or even orders to familiar regions of the country. Along with learning the lay of the land — whether iced tea equals sweet tea, or if that thing we’re drinking is soda or pop — we also need to prepare for the local weather patterns, such as hurricanes.
Without a doubt, severe weather will head your way before you can get the boxes unpacked. Or, if you’re really unlucky, it may surprise you the day your household goods are delivered. Throughout a military career, you may unpack in weather that seems normal — a snowstorm, ice storm, rain, or desert heat. But, eventually, something will throw you because it’s foreign. Maybe it will be an earthquake, a wildfire, a tornado, or a looming hurricane. When something is unknown, it’s scary.
So, if you see something coastal printed on your spouse’s orders, and you’re not from around there, you might be wondering how in the world to prepare for a hurricane. Let’s get you ready with three things you need to know about moving to hurricane territory.
Hide From Wind, Run From Water
Despite being the scariest part of a hurricane, the winds are rarely the most dangerous. Yes, they can cause trees to fall and loose items to swirl about, but they aren’t a reason to evacuate. (Tornados, which can spawn from hurricanes, are different. But that’s another piece.)
The water is the threat about which you need to be concerned. Storm surge is the problem — the wall of water that is pushed ashore from the hurricanes. Water is what destroys whole communities. Water is what you want to be far away from.
Learn Basic Terms
In order to make the best decisions, you’ve got to understand the terms. Here’s a quick rundown in order of severity — tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane. Hurricanes go from category 1 to category 5, based on wind speed. If you’re really interested, you could learn a little about sea surface temperatures, projected paths, and wind shear. But really, you need to know more about your evacuation plan — when you are going to leave and where you’re going to go when you do.
Trust Your Gut
Thanks to technology, you always have time to prepare for a hurricane. The cone of uncertainty covers the most likely track of the storm center. The storm can shift though, and hurricane-force winds and rains can extend far outside the cone. Keep a close eye on the projected track as the hurricane moves closer to landfall. We have an advantage as military spouses, because we know when that recall is ordered or the pilots start flying planes out, it might be time to move.
Above all, if your gut is telling you to get out, load up the kids and the family dog and evacuate. Even if the storm never shifts and your neighborhood is intact when you return, you’ll never regret evacuating — if nothing else, you might avoid those dreaded storm-associated power outages.
By doing a few things before a storm is even mentioned, you’ll find yourself relaxing instead of braving the hordes at Walmart. Here’s what you should do:
- Buy or locate existing boards for the windows.
- Keep enough bottled water on hand for your family for three days.
And, when you find out a storm is approaching, take the time to do these few things:
- Fill up on gas, in all vehicles.
- Grab some cash so you can still make purchases if the electricity or internet is out.
- Make a hotel reservation safely outside of the area, just in case you need to evacuate.
Don’t let moving to a new area scare you away from exploring. Hurricanes can be scary, but they also bring some great storms and some beautiful days before and after. Enjoy your new hometown, crazy weather and all!
Photo Credits: Unsplash