Wording With Purpose

Hurricane Preparedness for Daughters

Raleigh the morning after Fran 1996

My darling Amanda and Michelle,

As you are no doubt aware we are expecting the arrival of some part of Hurricane Irma in the coming days. I thought I would share some ideas to preserve you safely through the storm and any inconveniences she may bring us. You no doubt recall Hurricane Fran from 1996, a monster storm we rode out together.

First, ignore the media and the constant hype which will no doubt be blasted at high volume in coming days. They love to generate a panic then post videos of the empty bread and milk shelves at the local store to reinforce the panic. Now they’ve added the empty generator bays from the home centers.

Relax. Storms happen. Here are the best pointers I can give you.

What to buy

  • Stock up on canned goods (such as soup and beans) which can be heated on a grill or camp stove.
  • Make sure you have matches, charcoal, lighter fluid and propane tanks. Never use any of these inside the house. Never ever.
  • Dry foods like cereal, chips, and crackers do not go bad as long as they don’t get wet and they require no preparation. Just munch away.
  • Buy a case of bottled water. Bottled juices are a great idea also.
  • An adequate toilet paper supply is preferable to a rapidly disappearing last roll with no way to replenish. Stock up. In my expert opinion this staple item is vastly more important than milk and bread.
  • Make sure any prescriptions you need are refilled.
  • Gas up your car. If the power is interrupted for an extended period of time gas stations will not be able to pump fuel and lines will be long at any station that can sell gas.
  • Drop by your bank or ATM and get some cash. Credit cards cannot be scanned when the stores lose power.
  • Check your flashlights and verify spare batteries are at hand. Keep them close when the blowing starts.
  • We use oil lamps for emergency lighting so that means checking the oil supply.

Ornamental trees fall to Fran 1996

What to prepare

  • Organize the fridge beforehand so you can quickly retrieve items. If the power is interrupted you will want to leave the freezer closed and only open the fridge for a couple of seconds at a time. Your freezer should be fine for a day or two before anything starts to thaw, if it remains closed.
  • Secure outside objects that might blow in heavy winds like grills, trash cans, chairs and umbrellas. Flower pots, especially the plastic ones, fly easily in high winds. Bungee cords or rope can be used to secure items to fences or deck railings.
  • Disconnect hoses from outside faucets just to be safe.
  • Be smart about parking the cars. We separate the cars as much as possible in the driveway. Neighbors on our street lost both cars from a single tree falling across them during Fran.
  • City water will usually continue to flow (we never had any interruptions with Fran) but a bucket or two filled up and left in the tub can give an emergency flush for a toilet just in case. If your water is supplied by a pump, fill up the tub before the storm.
  • Charge up cell phones and other important gadgets. It is possible to recharge a cellphone via the car’s accessory outlet so locate any special adapters and cords you might need.
  • Find your raincoat and suitable shoes. Flip-flops and bare feet are a bad idea when there is debris and sharp wood chunks scattered about.
  • Locate and install your sink strainer. If the power is out your garbage disposal will not work. Cramming debris down there will result in a stopped up sink.

Fran toppled fences 1996

During/after the storm

  • Stay inside.
  • In the case of very high winds and snapping trees please sleep downstairs and away from windows.
  • If the unthinkable happens and a tree compromises your roof please move to a dry area of the house and wait for the blowing to stop before inspecting, repairing, or whatever. Your house and stuff can be replaced. You cannot be replaced.
  • Once the storm passes and you can get out safely make sure your neighbors are OK. Be prepared to share your resources as needed. And text Dad to let him know he does not need to worry.

Neighbors working together after Fran 1996

The storm may pass us without incident but it is always better to be prepared than sorry.

All my love,



  1. Ann
    September 7, 2017    

    Make ice to fill space in your freezers while you have water and electricity.

    • September 7, 2017    

      Great suggestion, Ann. Thanks for sharing.

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