Evacuating from Hurricane Matthew: A Mom’s Experience of Being Prepared

Let’s see if I can tell my hurricane evacuation story without being too dramatic about it. I was prepared, so leaving my home wasn’t a big deal.

It was 4am the day after my husband deployed and I was up with a crying 2-month old baby reading all of the news reports of the hurricane coming towards us. I knew that I should book a hotel ASAP in case I would need to evacuate, but I couldn’t calm my baby long enough to look up hotels. Thankfully one text to my awesome father-in-law and he was up booking it for me. At 4 am!  With the hotel booked I was able to focus on my calming my baby and then we both went back to sleep until around 8am. I woke up, read the news reports, and decided not to evacuate. I was prepared at home for loss of power and water. I’m not one to make a big deal out of things, so I thought we could be fine.

I’m not sure if it was the raw emotions of my husband just deploying, or the new mom hormones coursing through me, but around 9 am I looked at my little son and decided that I would do anything to protect him. 15 minutes later we were on the road to our evacuation destination.

When evacuating your home due to a natural disaster you won’t know if you’ll have a home to come back to.  Would you be able to gather essentials, and prized possessions in 15 minutes? Would you be able to jump in the car and drive straight to your destination without having to stop first for gas and groceries?  I could, and I did.

Once I decided to leave I jumped into action. I knew exactly what to do because we, as a family, had practiced what to do in an evacuation situation before. My husband was deployed so I had to take on his evacuation responsibilities, but I knew what they were so it didn’t slow me down much.

1st: the cat went in his kennel so that he wouldn’t run out the front door while loading the car. Animals seem to have a sixth sense about disastrous weather, my pets were acting super weird! The cat wouldn’t stop meowing and the dog paced around and randomly growled. Be prepared to help keep them calm.

2nd: the baby’s, pets, and my 72-hr. kit went in the car.

3rd: water cases, portable crib, purse, and the binder of important documents went in the car.

4th: breakers where flipped and water valves were turned off.

5th: Front door locked then pets (I have a 20lb cat and a 65lb border collie), baby, and myself were loaded up in the car.

That’s it! 3 hours later we were safely at our hotel watching the news. On the drive out of town I passed by gas stations that were out of gas, and grocery stores with people fighting over food in the parking lot. I was able to beat the traffic out of town because I was quick and didn’t need to stop.

The next day, while going stir-crazy in the hotel, I watched the news reporters beg people to evacuate their home, and even warn that your children would die if you stayed behind.

My husband was deployed on a submarine so I couldn’t talk to him, and he didn’t even know that we had to evacuate until after the hurricane passed and we were back home. I lived 2,500 miles from family so I was completely alone in evacuating, but it was okay…because I was prepared.

Thankfully the hurricane wasn’t as big of a deal in the US that the news portrayed it to be. When we first moved to the Jacksonville, FL area and we were going over evacuation routes I honestly didn’t think that I would ever have to use it. Preparing isn’t fun. It takes a lot of work, time, and can be costly. Do it anyways! Once the disaster does hit, it will be too late to prepare and it can cause you your life.

In the hotel I was reading Facebook posts in groups of the town where we lived, and many people were talking about their distress of not being able to leave because they couldn’t get gas (the stations were out) or they didn’t have any money to leave.  I feared for them and their safety. Preparedness is the difference between being able to leave to protect yourself and your family, or being left behind hoping that you’ll make it out alive.

While I was loading the car to leave I made sure to take a few moments and text my neighbors to see if they needed any help. It’s important to be serviceable and help out others in your community during times of crisis.

I wanted to share my evacuation story to give you an idea of the importance of being prepared, but I also wrote posts that are more detailed on creating 72 hour kits, and evacuation preparedness. Read them to learn how I was able to be ready in 15 minutes to evacuate.  I understand that not everyone lives near the coast, but do you live in a fire-prone area? Do you live where earthquakes can occur? Can you leave your home in 15 minutes if you are being evacuated because of a bomb threat nearby?  Are you prepared to be snowed in for a few days? The preparedness section of my blog can be useful for preparing for any kind of disaster, whether it’s weather, or financially related.

One thought on “Evacuating from Hurricane Matthew: A Mom’s Experience of Being Prepared

  1. Oyinkan

    June 11, 2017 at 3:49am

    OMG dealing with any hurricane must be pretty tough! I’m glad you were able to escape.

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  2. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    June 7, 2017 at 9:40pm

    I haven’t experienced any hurricane yet as it is not common here in our country but flooding! Oh, that’s what we need to prepare for in most areas. It really is important to have an emergency kit and be prepared for any emergency that might come our way.

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  3. Celerhina Aubrey

    June 7, 2017 at 5:31am

    I’m glad you and your family is safe! We have really strong typhoons here in Manila too so always being prepared is really the key.

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  4. Elizabeth

    June 6, 2017 at 5:28am

    Oh gosh that sounds so stressful! I don’t think anyone could even pay me to live in an area under threat like that all the time!

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  5. Louise

    June 6, 2017 at 12:30am

    This is so scary! I’m so glad I don’t live anywhere where there’s much of a chance of a hurricane arriving. And I definitely wouldn’t be prepared for one!

    Louise x

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  6. Josselyn

    June 5, 2017 at 3:59pm

    Wow. That was quite a story. so good that you could handle all by yourself !! great post

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  7. Heather @ US Japan Fam

    June 5, 2017 at 2:56pm

    Oh wow, thanks for sharing!! I always drag my feet and postpone postpone postpone. I need to go ahead and get a go-bag done for our family!

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  8. Elizabeth O.

    June 5, 2017 at 7:39am

    Wow. That was quite a story. It’s amazing that you were able to manage alone and it was so much easier to have everything you need organized and piled up. I’m glad you were able to get everyone, yourself included, to safety. God bless you.

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  9. David Elliott

    June 5, 2017 at 7:09am

    We don’t have to prepare for hurricanes up here. But there is plenty to worry about when it comes to Earthquakes. We regularly have to get ready for them. And they can be scary as they occur without warning.

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  10. Agnes Dela Cruz

    June 5, 2017 at 5:25am

    Good thing you had everything and was prepared. You never know when you’ll have that and early preparation is a must.

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  11. Lauren

    June 5, 2017 at 3:49am

    Wow, I gotta tell you, just reading this I can feel courage off this post. You so have the gift of courage and are imparting it to your readers. Also, this is such an amazing reminder to always be prepared.

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  12. Ali Rost

    June 5, 2017 at 3:24am

    I remember watching the news when everyone was evacuating, and wondered how in the world they managed it all. I can’t imagine doing it all by myself with the cat, dog, and little one. Good for you!

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  13. Dana

    June 5, 2017 at 1:59am

    I don’t live close enough to the coast to really be effected by hurricanes, but after Matthew my husband was gone for weeks to help clean up the mess. I was stuck at home with a baby too.

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  14. Melanie

    June 5, 2017 at 12:04am

    Good thing you were so prepared. It’s so important to make sure you know what to do in the event of an evacuation. My hubby has a “bug-out” box for things like this, but we definitely need to add more supplies to it. Your post was really helpful!

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  15. Nancy

    June 4, 2017 at 11:40pm

    Such a helpful post. Great reminder to always be prepared when nature does the unexpected,

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  16. Jona

    June 4, 2017 at 2:28pm

    We seldom experience hurricane but we experienced earthquake attacks recently. I totally agree that we should always be prepared as we will never know when this scenario will happen.

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  17. Corinne & Kirsty

    June 4, 2017 at 7:41am

    This much be such an intense and stressful experience. We don’t have much natural disaster in Europe and we probably aren’t prepared nor trained in case such a disaster would happen either! This is really informative post! xx corinne

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