“Oh Heaven forbid we don’t go to the World Series without Stillwell’s Toys!” From A League of Their Own

This is exactly the sentiment Susan felt last night when I came home wanting to update the hurricane/survival kit. I have to admit, my plans weren’t just to update it, but rather to stockpile it with an entire list of items I researched at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php .

One would think my hurricane preparedness would be just to update batteries and water. I mean, I’m a Floridian–born and raised–and even lived from 2001-early 2004 on the 110×40 mile island of Puerto Rico (and yes, that means I was here for Charley and Co. in 2004). As a Floridian, I KNOW Hurricane parties, flash flood warnings, random twisters, annihilated trailer parks, ponds turned to lakes, low rivers cresting, Pine trees bowing to 74+ mph winds, and referring storms by their first names (Andrew is not a good friend, it’s a terrible 1992 memory for most South Floridians). The importance of redneck neighbors with chainsaw, generators, and being aware of the abundance of snakes and lost pets after the storms is not lost on me. It can very well be a typical summer in Gainesville, Fl. and our plastic box hasn’t been updated since Francis.

But this is different. My son, Mason, is 15 months and Debby just barreled down on us leaving two gaping sinkholes in Tioga, one larger one next to Turnberry, and about 14 inches of rain in Gainesville, Fl and Alachua County. I won’t even mention the videos and pictures posted of Live Oak and Tampa and other areas of the state. Shoot, and we were worried the area Aquifers were low just 2 weeks ago. My newly ambitious packing standards are really more about the fact that Mason is my first child and I’m honestly scared. It’s the first time I have to take care of someone else other than me.

Luckily, I realize I’m in good hands with Susan. She’s a consummate camper and a mother of 18 years. This is not her first time in this rodeo. Her large plastic box is mentioned on the NOAA site for proper storage of disaster items (shore a point for Susan). She has about 14, albeit cheap, flashlights, a battery powered radio, half-used packages of batteries, a box of plastic sandwich bags, walkie-talkies, lighters, napkins, pliers, about 4 bottle openers (for beer, I presume), a Phillips screwdriver, and enormous bag of  tea light candles, hand sanitizer, and an assortment of first aid supplies. Other than the roach carcasses and expired aspirin, this box doesn’t look so bad.

I begin to think maybe I’m just over-reacting. It is kind of true that we really haven’t needed this since Ivan and Gainesville was spared by Katrina; but that was 7 years ago and we are just itching for another big one…or four. It’s the end of June so let’s just clean out and reload the old box. Some essentials I notice we don’t have or need to replace:

  • Throw out broken flashlights and buy a few cheapies for the box. We noticed half were rotted. Also, don’t leave batteries in all of them (ie., the rot), just the ones you actually use–we keep 2-3 around the house and garage.
  • Battery powered radio (with batteries left out so as not to rust like the current one in our box) and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert–apparently missing from this box.
  • Moist towelettes and plastic bags. Now we know where to store extra Publix bags and the towelettes from Sonnys!
  • Extra batteries that are up-to-date!
  • Stock up on water—suggested amount is 3 gallons per person (this will help for 3 days, at least). My plan is to buy a gallon or two with each grocery visit and to leave them in the garage until storm season is over. I also assume you want to eventually use the water even if the storms don’t force their usage. 7 year old water really is 7 year old water. Gross.
  • Emergency plan with a list of important numbers you may not know now that you Google the yellow pages and store all your numbers on a phone. Yea, I may know my mom’s house from 25 years of living there but I don’t know much else!
  • Updated First Aid Kit with NEW Ibuprofen/acetaminophen and bandages.

The list can actually get extensive and you don’t have to have everything in the plastic box. It is advised to have a plan and readily available supplies with a list of ‘don’t forgets’ regardless of Mother Nature’s furious ways or Zombie attacks.

After a good cleanout and some updating, I realized we are way more prepared than I previously considered and no matter what, there will always be something we will still have to get (like gas–and we luckily have enough gas buckets to fill) when the time comes. It doesn’t hurt to be aware and prepared even if you don’t have everything already stockpiled for the impending disaster, whatever that may be.