Iam writing this a few days before Hurricane Irma impacts the United States. The track and strength of Irma as it passes Virginia will determine a rain event, a wind event, or both. A high, sustained wind could possibly bring down trees, power lines, or whatever else that wind can do. A heavy rain event could cause flash flooding as well as longer-term flooding of creeks and rivers. The point of this article is to address the aftermath of a weather event.
The emergent side of these events is when the wind is blowing and the water is still rising. You must do whatever is necessary to keep you and your family safe. If you are ordered to evacuate, then you need to do so, understanding that you may not be able to get back to your home for several days. Shelter living will be less than stellar, but at least you are safe. If you decide to disregard an evacuation order and choose to ride out the storm, there may come a point that you are on your own until the height of the storm passes. Even then, roads may be impassable, preventing first responders from being able to get to you.
Once the flood waters have receded, it is time to get in to assess the damage. The first order of business will be to notify your insurance company, realizing that there may be issues if you do not have flood insurance. Water damage will lead to mold. If your home floods, then the carpet, drywall and insulation will have to come out. The drying process could take days especially if there is no power.
We could be without power for hours, days or even weeks. Are you prepared for this? Portable or permanently-mounted generators are invaluable when needed. The problem is that people put generators in a confined area or space that leads to carbon monoxide issues. Families die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators must be kept outside in well ventilated areas. Be careful when fueling hot generators. It is best to let them cool, but most will fuel them when they are hot. You need to think through everything that is lost when there is no power and develop a plan of what you will do.
Trees, downed by the storm, must be addressed. Is your chain saw ready? Asking that, there will be some trees that you will have to hire a company to deal with. You also must be aware that live power lines could be entangled in downed trees. Incidentally, all downed power lines are LIVE! Cutting limbs and trees is a dangerous undertaking, especially if you do not do it on a regular basis. You must cut trees with an intentional mindset. In other words, you must think about every cut that you make. By the way, chaps, eye protection, and hearing protection are strongly recommended when you use a chain saw.
After Hurricane Isabel, one of my worst calls was to a person that was knocked out of a tree by a limb that he had just cut.
I remember, after Hurricane Isabel, that engine and truck companies were out giving bottled water to people whose water supply was interrupted, for whatever reason. We absolutely take for granted the water that flows through our pipes. At the end of September, I will travel to a place where the only water comes from a tank. When the tank is empty, there is no water. We do not deal with this, but we could have to deal with an interrupted or contaminated water supply. If that is the case, we must respond accordingly. What will you do if your water supply is interrupted?
The point of the aftermath of a weather event is that we must be patient. People will complain about anything that they lose due to a storm. Thankfully, whatever we lose will be restored at some point. Take care of each other. Check on your neighbors. You may have to do things for people that truly stretches you, but that is OK. Pray, stay safe, and make smart choices before, during, and after the storm.