As of this writing, Hurricane Matthew is headed back out into the Atlantic to vent its energy at sea as it moves up the eastern seaboard. News accounts have the death toll at 17 on U.S. soil and somewhere between 300-900 in Haiti. Damage reports are still being tallied as the post-hurricane flood waters are still rising.
Millions were evacuated from their homes and businesses were closed as the winds and rain bore down on the region. Some of the video showed people stocking up on supplies, groceries and one shopper had a cart full of gasoline cans, obviously for stocking up. Other pictures showed bare shelves in stores indicating that last minute preppers were making a run on necessities. We see similar pictures every time a hurricane or major storm threatens the populace.
I’m a bit puzzled by a couple of things. First, for several days ahead of a major storm making landfall, the news media is all over it. Meteorologists are experts at gauging estimated wind speeds, the intensity (Category 4 or whatever) and if and where the monster is expected to make landfall. With all of this prediction, and fairly accurate prediction I might add, why do people wait? Wouldn’t a reasonable person hear the news and call home? “Honey, the newsman just said we’re going to get hit by a hurricane in two days. Round up the kids and I’ll be home in a half hour, we’ll get our kit and head for your mother’s in Ohio.” Seems like most folks would rather than wait until the last minute and be forced to compete for gasoline and groceries then fight gridlock as everyone else is leaving town with you. During Hurricane Katrina, the officials actually reversed the traffic flow so that all lanes led out of town. Still there were so many things wrong on so many levels during the Katrina that over 2000 lives were lost, mostly due to procrastination.
Secondly, why are the store shelves bare? If everyone would stock up, even just a little bit, it would save on that last minute “hopefully they still have some peanut butter” shopping rush that we see on all the news channels. It’s really not expensive to put some extra groceries aside. Shop the sales or try the warehouse stores for the best deals. Get in on the “buy one, get one” offers and learn to use coupons.
Prior planning can save your life. At the very least it can get you ahead of the crowd when everyone else is scrambling for their supplies and trying to get out of town.
Winter weather is coming. There will be blizzards throughout the land, and for those of us in the Pacific Northwest we will see wind storms come in off the ocean with accompanying heavy rain. This is the season for which we prepare. Gasoline for the generator. Extra groceries when the road to town is flooded. And for those in blizzard country, an extra blanket or two in the car, some water and even a couple of cans of Spam for that time when you slide off the road and have to spend the night in your car. Remember it is just as expensive to run your car on the upper half of the gas tank as it is on the bottom half.
As always, send your questions and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.