Hurricane Sandy is glancing off Florida, and heading toward the east coast of the U.S., aiming straight for a rare collision with the Northeast U.S. Sitting here, as a Floridian, watching the satellite photos and watching the projected path, I am reminded that many, many part-time residents of Florida live in the Northeast. Even though most Northeast homes and properties are not fitted for hurricane protection, many residents know the drill. The only good news about this event is you have a lot of time to prepare, because tracking software has become so sophisticated.
So, if you only have a couple of days and a couple of bucks, and a couple of helpers or contractors to make you hurricane-ready, what to do? What are the priorities?
First, identify which hazard would affect you most — rising water (flood), wind, or even wet snow. Your property location and type should make this easy. High-rises should take cover, because wind speeds increase every few floors you are up.
Check for trees that overhang roofs, and if they are weak, old, or show signs of age, have them trimmed.
Walk the yard, and exterior, and secure or store anything that could become a missile or flying object. When in doubt, just store it.
If you are likely to have to evacuate, secure your home, not just from the severe weather, but also from vandals and thieves. Years ago, the day after a hurricane ripped through my neck of the woods, I was able to slip through the National Guard troops to get to a few of my properties, which were on the beach. After my inspection, during which I took pictures, noted damages, and called the property owners with my report, getting back in my vehicle I noticed many soldiers with machine guns walking the streets, Guard vehicles, and equipment. They were not messing around, and frankly, it was shocking to me to actually see martial law imposed, more or less, in my town. I managed to leave, also unnoticed, and wondered to myself if I was getting paid enough to have done something out of duty that could have gotten me in a lot of trouble. The point is, it can get that bad, and you could be delayed access to your property for some time if a storm does that type of devastation. Prepare for this, and count your blessings if it doesn’t happen that way.
Gather a bag, suitcase, or boxes with your important papers, CDs, thumb drives, et cetera, including any digital records that are on your desktop computer (and not on your laptop or mobile device). Make this light, compact, and weatherproof, so you can grab it and go in an instant and in very bad weather.
Prepare for power losses, earlier than you think. Make sure you can function if it is pitch black, because storms hit when they want to, not when it is convenient. Gather a mobile power bag also, with flashlights, extra batteries, and consumables, much like you would prepare for a winter storm. Traffic can become gridlocked, especially with people who are not used to this sort of thing, wait until the last minute, and so forth. When storms like this hit, and are rare, there are many more people who are rookies at this on the road.
Property damage is actually the last priority. Life safety, personal and property security, records, and survival kits should be the priorities. We know the drill in Florida. But a northern hurricane is rare, and many people have never experienced anything like it. Northern storms have the wet snow or ice possibility. Not only do you get the same factors that a southern hurricane can bring, but wet snow and ice can down power lines and cause property damage even more than the other factors.
I hope that the storm is not as bad as they are predicting, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Sandy’s path. Do all you can do to prepare, and then hope and pray the effects are minimal. Take care.Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
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