How I Prepared & Survived 4 Hurricanes In A 5 Year Span

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The excitement of moving to a new home and new community can be both overwhelming and exciting! IMG_5004Oh, did I mention that the move is driving across the country to a state I’ve never lived before over 2,000 miles away? 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. I need to add in here that we’ve done it 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 but excited too!
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Our first move, we spent approximately two years living near the Tampa area. These were the years that Florida had massive hits by hurricanes. It felt as though a hurricane was coming our way every other weekend. 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.

It was 2004, approximately a month; mid August, after we arrived into our new Florida home and were working to get the house and ourselves set up 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. I remember sitting in our house hearing the winds and watching the rain slam against our thin windows, and of course not sleeping through the night as the tree branches and twigs fell on the roof all night long. We received approximately 8.5 inches of rain in less than 12 hours as I recall. We were not located in a zone that was ordered to evacuate, so we hunkered down and rode out the storm. We would be without power for approximately 3 days or so although others had no power for several weeks. We were 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. Now, in this case we were not in Florida during the time this storm was making its way towards Florida. We were visiting relatives in North Carolina and were considering when or if we should return home to Florida at this time. Jeanne was making its way towards east and central Florida and it included a path that would take it through the East part of the state and up through the northeastern states.

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So, with the understanding that hurricane Jeanne would be moving north, we thought we might get a head of it or we could drive around it as we packed our vehicle and decided to head back home to Florida. Well, we were wrong. We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the storm as we approached northeastern Florida towards Orlando, and wound up driving through a major hurricane!

DSC_0182Jeanne was the fourth major named storm of the season to hit Florida in 2004. My husband did all the driving, and had the most intense grip on the steering wheel that I think I saw imprints on the wheel by the time we arrived home. We finally made it home safe and sound, but arrived to a community with downed huge oak trees, power lines, and much more damage. However, our personal property and home were okay, as we proceeded to do our routine yard clean up that had become a very common thing during this year. We were grateful to be safe and fortunate that our property had no damage. By the way, for these two hurricanes, we did not have hurricane shutters.

Fast forward about ten years, having moved back to California after just 2 years of living in Florida, now we’ve packed the moving truck and drove once again across the states back to Florida in 2014 to a new area about an hour south of Tampa and would give Florida another try. Learning that 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 was going great and we were enjoying our home, our swimming pool, golfing, and the beautiful nature we witnessed daily in our own back yard.

Well, I guess nature said it was time to throw in a little interesting drama. Hurricane Hermine (read more here: ) made its visit in September of 2016, and hit landfall as a Cat 1 in the Florida Panhandle and we did feel some of the outer band effects from it. We were 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.

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After a life-changing event, we decided to travel more and make a goal of visiting the national parks, and other gorgeous places in the US. As well, we decided to move back to California because of an opportunity presented to us we couldn’t refuse at the time. So, we put our house on the market, and we received an offer fairly quickly, and began packing up the house. We were on vacation at the time of receiving an offer. So, our vacation was not very enjoyable, as we were dealing with negotiations and contracts while on travel. 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 learned quickly that we not only had little time to plan a move, but also had to prepare 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! We felt trapped, as we knew we couldn’t leave because our home was in escrow, and yet we didn’t want to go through another hurricane.

We finally returned home from our vacation and immediately got to work cleaning up the property doing the normal trimming, lawn cutting, and sweeping the pool, as the home inspection was scheduled for the very next day after our return from our trip. The Hurricane was probably about a week away, and we were about 3 weeks until closing, we continued to pack and care for the yard and pool. It was just our luck, the pool pump died the day of the inspection and we informed the inspector and home buyers we will be ordering a new pool pump and take care of it. We proceeded with researching the best deal and brand of pool pump and ended up ordering a new one after more days had passed from a company located in Miami, hoping for an on time delivery (prior to hurricane arriving).

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 continuing to pack our belongings to prepare for the sale of our home and move; we found ourselves gathering food, shoveling sand to fill sand bags, and installing hurricane shutters on the windows, which was a very difficult and exhausting task in itself.

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 was sawing logs all night and I was tossing and turning. We were very lucky once again, and woke up to only one small tree topped over and no other damage. 20170911_175045Wow, we were so surprised and felt as though our home and pool birdcage (they call this the pool cage) were built pretty darn good.

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Screened Pool Cage.  FITLIFEANDTRAVEL.COM

We did hold our breath while waiting for that new pool pump to arrive from Miami as it finally was delivered about 2 days after the hurricane passed. We proceeded to repair the pool, finished preparing and cleaning the house for move out inspection and were ready to hit the road. We ended up packing everything we owned and rolling out of town right on time and 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 more when a storm is forming and prior to 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: We noticed how over dramatic the national news/weather channel was making this year’s storms appear which caused even more panic and over reaction. We watch the local news for more accurate and toned down reports or news on upcoming storms.

  1. Full tank of gas
  2. Fill 1-2 gallons of water for each person in home. Fill the bathtub with water.
  3. Pick up extra light/lamps (or candles) used for camping
  4. Batteries
  5. Radio- AM/FM battery
  6. 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.)
  7. Manual can opener
  8. Clear any loose items around the house exterior;
    • Small potted plants
    • Hoses, decorative items
    • Lawn furniture put in garage
    • Rugs

*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 hits;

  1. Close all interior doors.
  2. 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.

In summary, 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 that the 5 years of living in Florida, we went through 4 hurricanes. And I would still live there again if I had a choice at this time.

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.

Check out my recap of these gorgeous Florida beaches here:
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Please follow my journeys and subscribe to my blog and social pages! I would love to hear from you, please comment or send me an email to fitlife360@yahoo.com

 

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Summer of Sunsets

Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

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Arizona near Phoenix
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Grand Canyon area
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Santa Monica, CA
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Cannon Beach, OR
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Eugene, OR
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Bradenton, FL
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Honolulu, HI
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Bismarck-Mandan, ND
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Honolulu, HI
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Scottsdale, AZ
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Sarasota, FL
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Moab, UT
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Honolulu, HI

 

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Austin, TX
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San Diego, CA
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Hawaii
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San Diego, CA
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Kauai, Hawaii
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Honolulu, HI
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Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

Read more about my scenic adventures here!

See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

Please feel free to comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you! Please follow my blog and subscribe! As always, I thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

3 Best Beaches On The Gulf Coast Florida

What does Summertime mean to you? For many, Summer is the season of making memories of fun times with family enjoying picnics, barbecue and watermelon! But for me, Summertime is all about the beachlife. This includes packing up your tote bags, gathering your fluffy beach towels and folding chairs and heading out to the beach every chance I get. IMG_0150Summertime and beaches go hand in hand, you can pack your lunch and enjoy a picnic on the beach, then grab your camera for those gorgeous sunsets that round up the day.
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I’ve spent a lot of time at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are even a few I’ve been to that are located in areas not even accessible to the general public. But some of the hottest beaches in the world you could say are located in the state of Florida.
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Although the Summer season climate in Florida can be quite hot, it makes for a reason to head out to the beaches and jump in! Here are the three best beaches on the gulf coast you should visit today!

  1.  Siesta Key BeachDirections

Siesta Key Beach is located on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. This is the beach of all beaches! It’s the beach you dream of with wide spaces of beautiful white sand of which the sand is cool to the touch. IMG_5271The sand at many beaches can be very hot on the feet during those scorching Summer days, but the sand at Siesta Key Beach is cool and very fine. The sand is made of Quartz and has a luxurious and cool feel to the feet!

There is a nice facility and large parking lot at this beach where you can find restrooms, and at times some events and activities are going on, for example seafood festivities and live bands.

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Additionally, every Sunday evening around Sunset there is the traditional Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle where people gather in a large circle and there are a few instruments being played, and folks can hula hoop or dance.

 

This is one beach you must visit on your next trip to Florida! Siesta Key Beach has also been named for some accolades recently as well.

  • o The whitest and finest sand in the world (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987)
  • o The Best San Beach in America (The Travel Channel, 2004)
  • o The Best Beach in America (Dr. Beach, 2011, 2017)
  • o 2015 awarded #1 U.S. Beach (Street sign posted on Siesta Key)

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Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle Celebration
2. Bradenton Beach: Directions

Bradenton Beach can be found located on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton, Florida. From I-75 go take the exit for SR 64 and go west and you will run directly into the parking area for this beautiful beach.

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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

From my experience visiting this beach, there is not alot of commercialism nearby or at this beach which is one reason why I love this beach! It’s sort of old school, it allows you to truly escape the crazy noisy things going on already in our busy lives.  Parking is free in this particular parking area, and the beach is what you see is what you get. There is a restroom building located at this parking area, and you can find a few businesses and swimsuit boutiques as you drive further south. There are a handful of free parking areas as well. It was a treat to be at the beach and see the Sand Art displays on the day we visited this beach in the month of December.

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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach Sand Art Display
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Bradenton Beach, FL
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Bradenton Beach, FL

If you are looking for a quiet, and easy access to a beach for relaxing and enjoyment, Bradenton Beach will not disappoint.
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3. Clearwater Beach: Directions

This spectacular beach area is highly visited every year and offers a lot of beach fun and activity. Located in Clearwater, Florida, the beach is beautiful and lovely with its wide and sparking light colored sand and inviting blue waters to enjoy fun in the sun, building sand castles, or enjoying a picnic on the beach. There are several tourists who visit this beach so it can be busy, and parking can be a challenge at times.

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Clearwater Beach, FL
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Clearwater Beach, FL

You will see some hotels and resorts located directly on the beach in the distance. Several boutique shops and restaurants, and souvenir and snack shops line the streets on the main drag that lines this beach. You can also rent jet skis and boat tours to add a little adventure to your visit. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must see as it is the place that the popular movie, Dolphin Tale, is based on.

Clearwater Beach has also been in the rankings of beaches in years past including one of the best beaches in the U.S. and many others. So while you visit the state of Florida, make sure to include a day at this stunning beach for an incredible beach day experience!

 

So the next time you think of Summer, the only thing that may come to your mind is Beaches! For me, there is nothing better than a day at the beach with your family playing in the water, relaxing on the sand, and enjoying a delicious picnic. When you come to Florida on your next travel or vacation, these three beaches are a must see to add to your itinerary!
Thank you for reading!

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Love beaches? See more beaches in Hawaii and more here!