The passage of Hurricane Matthew up the East Coast of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas last week provides a perfect example of what to do, and what not to do, prior to the onset of a potentially lethal storm. I say ’prior to’ because once it arrives there’s not a lot your can do but keep your head down and stay sheltered. And once it passes all you can do is fix what has been broken and try to remember what to do next time.
In South Florida, from Palm Beach County to the Keys, Matthew passed by closely—the eye only about 60 miles out from shore—but left residents relatively unscathed, as it did the West Coast and inland areas south of Orlando. But Central Florida’s East Coast, from St. Lucie up through St. Augustine and north through Georgia and the Carolinas was a different and devastating story that the television pictures documented well.
Never Too Late to Learn
Despite the many hurricanes and tropical storms experienced, there is still much to learn.
A newcomer to Florida—someone who has arrived here only within the past decade—would likely be surprised at the calmness and deliberateness of most long-time residents who go about preparing: no panic, just a plan, and though Matthew might pass by, they are prepared for the worst.
In preparation for a storm, you can:
1. Make sure storm shutters are operational, ensure your car is full of gas, stock up on water, non- perishable food items and ice (preferably in the largest cooler chests you can find). Ice is important because even if the storm is well out to sea, power outages can happen, perhaps for days. Without power, your refrigerator loses a lot of its value. But a properly-iced cooler chest can stay cold—even after the ice has melted, for days.
2. Clear your property of any excess or moveable plants, foliage, furniture, pots, and grills Even a 75-mile an hour wind can easily pick up and toss about items you couldn’t ordinarily lift off the ground. This is particularly important for snowbirds who leave their vacation properties untended for the summer and fall months.
3. If you’re a visitor or tourist to hurricane-prone areas in the summer and fall, listen to storm veterans and take their advice. Get to high ground and suppress your urge to go to the beach and get the “experience of a lifetime.”
Preparation is no Mystery
What to do in preparation for a hurricane or a tropical storm is no mystery. The precautionary lists are available everywhere, the weather forecasters recite them every hour, and grocery stores have the provisions you need well stocked, well ahead of time.
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