I live near Houston, Texas. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the wrath of Hurricane Harvey on my area. I thought I lived in a very safe zone, but I had to evacuate. My home ended up being OK, but several homes close to me had water damage.
So how do you prepare for something like a hurricane or other disaster? Even if you live in a safe zone, you need to be prepared with some items ready-to-go at a moments notice.
After living through the Harvey evacuation, I would like to share a couple items to gather together so you are prepared no matter what the emergency.
Create and Evacuation Box or Backpack
Creating an evacuation box or backpack will be so helpful for you and for your family.
Include the following items in your evacuation box:
- Copies of important documents. (Copies can also be saved in Dropbox or Evernote for retrieval)
- Bank and credit card account info
- Mortgage company info
- Computer account info
- Insurance policies
- Driver’s license
- Social Security Card
- Copy of your electric bill to prove where you live
- A sheet listing any phone number you might need during an emergency such as insurance agent, family, minister, etc. (it also helps to pre-program these on your phone)
- Copy of birth certificates or citizenship papers
- Your checkbook
- A backup external hard drive of your computer’s info, pictures, etc.
- A thumb drive with all versions of your resume on it (These can also be saved in Dropbox or Evernote for retrieval later)
- Extra keys to your safe deposit box
- Flashlight and batteries
- Some extra cash
- Phone and Charger
Each of these items should be sealed in ziplock baggies to avoid water damage, etc.
Depending on where you live, you might want to include other contents.
I would suggest a couple bottles of water be packed as well.
Don’t forget to pack your medications in ziplock bags too. Make sure you have enough to last a week.
If you have babies, make sure you have diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, etc. packed to take in a rush.
If you have pets, you may want to have a bag packed for them for emergencies that includes little bowls, some pet food, an extra leash and doggie-waste bags.
If You Evacuate:
Hopefully, you will never have to evacuate but if you do, please know a dozen people will be there to help. You may feel alone, but your neighbors, friends, first responders will be there to help you.
- Wear shoes that can get wet.
- If you travel, call your credit card companies and banks so your card/account is not subject to a fraud hold.
- Contact FEMA and The Red Cross to help with expenses, etc.
- Contact your insurance agent.
- Contact family and let them know you are safe.
What You Will Need in The Aftermath:
If your home is involved in a disaster you will need the following items when it is time to return and clean up.
- Trash bags
- Cleaning supplies
- Camera or cell phone camera for pictures of damage
- Storage bins for things you can salvage
- A pair of rain boots
Save all receipts.
Be Prepared for a Quick Getaway
Being prepared to make a quick getaway will not only make the evacuation stress less, but also you will have less stress once you have gotten to a safe place. It helps you to re-status yourself in the event the catastrophe does strike.
I Was Lucky
My home is out of the floodplain and was totally safe until County officials decided that I was going to get 4 feet of water in my house and needed to evacuate ASAP.
It was quite the experience having to sort through unpacked boxes (we moved in 2 weeks prior) and decide what I definitely didn’t want to lose and what could be lost.
After a week, we were allowed back into our area and were very lucky to find no water in the house.
The neighborhood next to mine was not so lucky. For some reason, the flood gates remained closed, and the pump station did not turn on which caused the retention ponds to fill and overflow 2+ feet into homes. Hundreds of homes were damaged.
If You Want To Help
If you want to help actual people and families that lost everything instead of giving to a charity that takes a cut, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will let you know how you can directly help them. I have friends from out of state who sent gift cards to me, I then distributed to people that have no flood insurance and had their home flooded in the neighborhood next to mine. This cuts out the middle man and gets much-needed help to families immediately.