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.
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.