The excitement of moving to a new community can be both overwhelming and exciting! However, there are also other emotions that accompany a big move, especially when its to an area that is hurricane prone or an active weather place. Which leads me to where I begin to share with you how I survived 4 hurricanes in a 5 year span.
Making a local move is one thing, but packing a moving truck and driving across the country from California to Florida on your own is another. Hard to believe we’ve done this move twice now. We went from calm quiet days and evenings in California, to thunderstorms and rain everyday and possible hits of hurricanes flying by for 6 months of the year! I was indeed a little nervous! At the same time, I am also excited as well to live in tropical Florida!
Our first move, we spent approximately two years living near the Tampa area. These are the years when Florida experienced hits by several hurricanes. It seems as though a hurricane was coming our way every other weekend. The internal stress that is associated with these storms is indescribable. We would embrace, hold our breath, and be prepared to be uncomfortable and expecting damage to the house or property. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jean made their visit during this year.
Our First Home
It was 2004, approximately a month; mid August, after we arrived into our new Florida home, we focused on getting the house up to par and settled in. When suddenly, those thrilling happy feelings would be swooped away by the warnings of the first of 4 hurricanes to visit and impact our new home state during the year of 2004.
Hurricane Charley made its direct hit just south of us in Punta Gorda, Florida at its maximum strength as a Category 4 hurricane. Charley brought massive destruction through this area as well as central parts of the state and to some northeastern states also. We receive approximately 8.5 inches of rain in less than 12 hours as I recall. Our property is not located in a zone ordered to evacuate, so we hunker down and ride out the storm. We have no power approximately 3 days, whereas other areas have no power for several weeks. We are thankful we made it through unscathed and safe. Read more info on Hurricane Charley here:
The second hurricane we had the unlucky privilege of experiencing is hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest storm of 2004. We are visiting relatives in North Carolina and considering when we should return home to Florida at this time. Jeanne is making its way towards east and central Florida. Also including a path that would take it through the East part of the state and up the north east.
Driving Through A Hurricane
With the understanding that hurricane Jeanne is moving north, we thought we might get a head of it. We decide to head back home to Florida. Well, we end up finding ourselves smack dab in the middle of the storm as we approach northeastern Florida towards Orlando, and wind up driving through a major hurricane!
Jeanne is the fourth major named storm of the season to hit Florida in 2004. My husband did all the driving, and his intense grip on the steering wheel says it all. I think I saw imprints on the wheel by the time we arrived home. Finally, now at home safe and sound, we arrive to a community with downed huge oak trees, power lines, and much more damage. There is no damage to our property.
The Move #2
Fast forward about ten years, having moved back to California we decided once again to move back to Florida in 2014. This time to a new area about an hour south of Tampa. I am happy to learn this area has not been hit by a hurricane in nearly 20+ years or any if ever had hit this particular area in Manatee County.
Life is going great at this point and we are enjoying our home, our swimming pool, golfing, and the beautiful nature that surrounds us.
Well, I guess nature said it was time to throw in a little interesting drama. Hurricane Hermine (read more here: ) makes its visit in September of 2016. Hermine makes landfall as a Cat 1 in the Florida Panhandle and we do feel some of the outer band effects from it. Again, we are lucky and dodged the bullet this year, but we would not be so lucky during the year we made plans for another change in 2017.
Life Changing Event
After a life-changing event, we make the decision to travel more and have goals of visiting the national parks, and other gorgeous places in the US. As well, we decide to move back to California because of an opportunity we couldn’t refuse at the time. So, we put our house up for sale and shortly began packing up the house. All the while watching Hurricane Harvey destroy Houston, and learning about the next lurking storm festering up right behind it, named Hurricane Irma.
With only about a month to plan, pack, and prepare for a cross-country move (again), we learn quickly that we not only have little time to plan a move, but also preparing for a possible major hurricane as well. Watching carefully, being told this storm could be a direct hit, and its path would slowly crawl north throughout the entire state of Florida! Feeling as though we are in a bad dream, that internal stress has returned. We feel trapped, as we know the option to evacuate is off the table, because our home is in escrow at this time, and feel we need to stay.
Preparing For Home Inspection
We return home from a well deserved short vacation, of which we receive the offer on our house during this time. We immediately got to work cleaning up the property doing the normal trimming, lawn cutting, and sweeping the pool, with the home inspection scheduled for the next day upon return of our trip. Irma is about a week away, and we have about 3 weeks until closing. Wouldn’t you know it, the pool pump died the day of the inspection and we inform the inspector and home buyers we’ll take care of it. We order a pool pump out of Miami, the same path of Irma. Days pass and still no pump.
Hurricane and Closing Escrow
Hurricane Irma is more powerful than ever and picking up steam and heading for Florida, and with only 10 days until closing, I found myself running around to find available food (and specific food-Gluten, dairy, peanut Free) on the shelves at the grocery stores and Wal-Mart to only find many items were sold out and several empty shelves remained. I was able to get some items we needed but off name brands and higher prices.
Therefore, instead of packing for a move, we find ourselves gathering food, shoveling sand bags, and installing hurricane shutters on the windows. Which in itself is an exhausting task.
Hurricane Irma finally made landfall into Naples, FL and was projected to move directly in our path in Manatee County. It ended up a category 2 by the time it hit us with about 100 mile / hour winds of which I heard every one of them all night long. Sounding like a freight train was flying by our house all through the night.
Of course, my hubby is snoring and sawing logs all night long while I toss and turn. Finally, morning arrives and we awake to only one small tree toppled over and no other damage. Wow, we were so surprised and felt as though our home and pool birdcage (they call this the pool cage) were built pretty darn good.
The new pool pump finally arrives from Miami two days after the hurricane. We proceed to repair the pool, finished cleaning the house for move out inspection and are ready to hit the road. We end up packing everything we owned and rolling out of town right on time as scheduled. Now, read about how we prepared and planned to ride out these hurricanes with little damage and unscathed.
Preparing for a hurricane can be challenging and difficult if you allow it to be. Plan ahead and prepare. Here is a list of things I do to prepare for hurricanes if riding out the storm (without a generator); I start checking off this list several days or a week or prior to a storm arriving; (to prevent long lines at gas station and empty food shelves). Also, mentally prepare to be without power for long length of time: NOTE: The national media tend to be over dramatic which help cause even more panic and over reaction. We watch the local news for more accurate and toned down reporting on upcoming storms.
How I Survived Hurricanes
- Full tank of gas
- Have 1-2 gallons of water for each person in home. Fill the bathtub with water.
- Pick up extra light/lamps (or candles) used for camping
- Radio- AM/FM battery
- Get food; bread for sandwiches, crackers, cans of tuna,
A. I make sure to have extra food in refrigerator that can be eaten cold also (hard boiled eggs, cold tater tots, pizza, etc.)
- Manual can opener
- Clear any loose items around the house exterior;
- Small potted plants
- Hoses, decorative items
- Lawn furniture put in garage
- Use water bottles or pitchers or other containers to fill with water and have several extra, for drinking.
- Get sand bags: I used grocery plastic bags to put sand in, and placed sand bags at the front door and back patio doorways.
- Get a cooler or make extra ice packs using zip locks; fill with ice. Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. (This will maintain its chill for up to several hours).
- Put hurricane shutters on windows; this is not an easy task, so make sure you have all map-instructions, screws, and that each shutter matches its screw hole positions on window.
- Park cars in garage
When Hurricane Arrives
- Close all interior doors.
- Be ready to go to the most interior room in the home; stay away from windows etc.
And wouldn’t you know it; these storms always seem to arrive during the night.
Also note: our home was built with cinder blocks and to hurricane codes.
Don’t panic when unexpected things occur that you didn’t plan for suddenly pop into your life. Life is full of unexpected turns, challenges and heartache as well as wonderful good things are always happening too. That is life. Take a deep breath, plan to the best of your ability, stay calm and everything will be okay. I feel very lucky and fortunate, and still can’t believe how I survived 4 hurricanes in 5 years!
Thank you for reading! I hope this will provide some guidance and ideas on how to deal with this type of natural event without being to inconvenienced or chaotic.