Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness...

In light of the theme of this post, I wanted to add this quote, sent to me today by a young man here in Puerto Rico.  It says:

"Mas valen las tormentas con Dios a bordo, que las aguas mansas sin tu presencia.  Dios nunca nos prometio un viaje facil, pero si un puerto seguro." 

Translation:  "More valuable are storms with God on board than calm waters without His presence.  God never promised us an easy journey, but He did promise a safe harbor."

Another 'previously written' blog post...all about Hurricane Irene!

See the island that you can't actually see because it is covered entirely by Hurricane Irene?  
That's Puerto Rico.

8/22/2011 - Hurricane Preparedness
We knew hurricanes were a reality of living in Puerto Rico.  Remember our first trip to PR in August 2010?  We got an extra two days of adventure because of a little guy called Hurricane Earl.  That one wasn’t a direct hit, but pretty darn close!  We felt the effects of that through long power outages, water outages, no cell phone coverage and in that occasion, being stuck for an extra two days on a small island called Vieques, 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  We figured this was God’s way of giving us the full ‘Puerto Rico Experience’ before we actually moved!
Another thing we’ve known is that prime hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from typically late August through mid-October.  
That said, with our lack of Internet access and any TV access, we haven’t exactly been checking`the weather regularly.  To date, every day has been sunny and in the mid-80’s, minus an occasional passing afternoon rainstorm.  
Sunday afternoon (8/21/2011) we went over to our favorite beach in the area, Playa Sardinera (aka “Sam’s Club Beach”) for a much needed Family Day.  The sky was just lightly overcast, enough to keep from feeling like we were being scorched.  The beach had several other families there enjoying the day and the waves were just robust enough to make for some fun bodysurfing and boogie boarding.  This particular beach creates a natural sea swimming pool area because an above water reef buffer the dangerous waves and currents from the ocean.  Because of that there are some awesome tidepools to explore.  We spent much of the afternoon exploring the tidepools, trying to catch some sea creatures and learning by doing (love it when that happens!).  
As we left the beach, we noticed that there were cars lining up at the gas stations to get gas.  The lines of cars were overflowing the gas station lots and onto the streets.  The only other time we’ve seen this was just before Hurricane Earl, the summer before in Vieques.  Robert did a quick check of the news and sure enough, a tropical storm (Miss Irene) was on the way...destined to pass RIGHT OVER the entire island of Puerto Rico...and possibly turn into a hurricane level storm in the process.  
Before the move we had talked briefly about putting together a “Hurricane Survival Pack” once we got settled.  But given that we aren’t yet settled, we hadn’t yet put together the pack!  So here we were with a few hours before the storm was scheduled to hit our area.  Where to start?  We decided to start by jumping in line with all the other cars at the gas station.  We remembered that on Vieques the gas had run out entirely, and it took several days before the gas stations were filled again after the storm.  
After getting gas, we drove home to change out of our wet swimsuits and take stock of what we had in the temporary rental home (aka-The Sea Turtle House).  After talking with the neighbors on both sides, I got a good idea of some things to do to prepare for the coming storm.  I decided to write them down so that I would remember once we DO eventually put together that “Hurricane Survival Pack”!  Here they are:
**Make sure all outdoor items are secure - put inside a shed, inside the house or somehow secured outdoors.  This even includes the small things like clothespins!
We pulled in the green hammock, the porch chairs and all of our shoes from the porch.  We secured the trash bin under the outdoor table, which we put in the corner of the carport, behind our car.  We also put PJ’s doggie crate into the area in the carport where the hot water heater is enclosed and then pulled the car all the way into the carport too, in order to keep it safe from falling/flying debris.
**Have plenty of flashlights and batteries on hand.  Candles and/or a hurricane lamp and lighters are good to have too.  
The Sea Turtle House was equipped with a couple of working flashlights and a hurricane lamp with a little bit of oil.  There were lighters too.  Yay!  We did pick up a couple more flashlights so we could keep them stocked throughout the house as needed.  (Postscript:  I recommend having a few of the long-necked lighters on hand (the kind you use for the grill).  Just tried to light the candles with a small cigarette lighter b/c the other one had run out of juice...and just about burned my thumb off!  ;)
**Wash any dirty dishes while there is still water.  
With the ant problem we have in the house, I didn’t want to end up having dirty dishes languishing in the sink if the water were to go out.  I washed everything up and continued keeping everything washed up while we still had water.
**Have all family members take showers while still water.  
Since we were stinky and salty from our day at the beach, we needed a shower anyway.  The prospect of losing water and not getting it back for potentially a few days caused us to get everyone in and out of the shower with haste so we could at least start the storm squeaky clean!
**Fill up the bathtub and sink with water to use for flushing toilets if the water goes out for an extended period.  
Some houses in the area have a very large ‘reserve tank’ of water on their roof or in a storage shed in their yard for times where the water may be out for a prolonged period of time.  The Sea Turtle House doesn’t have a reserve tank though, and the owner of the home suggested this!  The only downside was that I couldn’t find the plug to the bathtub and my attempts to MacGyver something to plug up the tub didn’t work.  I did fill up the sink though.  Good thing the water didn’t go out though!
**Have plenty of drinking water and non-perishable food on hand that needs no refrigeration or cooking to eat.
We went to Sam’s Club and got MORE than enough!  However I am quite sick of carbs by the end of this day with no power.  Even though it is still raining, we are going to try and get charcoal lit for the grill tonight so we can grill up the chicken that has been defrosting in the freezer all day!  
**Make sure all phones and computers and any other ‘chargeable’ electronics that will be needed are indeed charged.  
We realized that power would probably not last for long.  So we plugged in laptops and phones so that they’d keep their battery power as long as possible.  As I type, we’ve gone nearly 24 hours now with no power and the kids have still been able to watch a couple Redbox movies on one of the laptops, and here I am typing up a blog post to eventually put up the next time we have wi-fi!
**Eat up anything for meals that would otherwise go bad quickly in a fridge or freezer with no power.  
We ate chicken for dinner last night with some salad remnants and some fruits that would go bad with the power going out.  We all ate two things of yogurt for breakfast this AM, whether or not we liked the flavor.  For lunch it was turkey sandwiches with turkey that I thought was already a bit ‘off’, but the kids insisted it was fine.  So the kids got turkey sandwiches and I ate PB&J.  Actually just PB, b/c we have no ‘J’.  
Okay, the other laptop just died at the tail-end of ‘Nanny McPhee Returns’, so my laptop is needed to see the end of it.  Plus the dog is begging to go out, so away I go.  But at least I have the beginnings of our “Hurricane Survival Kit” information all ready to go!


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