Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Real Life" Emergency Series - Miami, FL

We are continuing our guest post series sharing your stories about getting through emergency situations.  Today, we're sharing Lisa's story from Florida.

(Do you have an emergency story you'd like to share?  It can be short or something longer... we'd love to share it!  Please email it to us at safelygatheredin (at) gmail.com).

Here is Lisa's story:

I grew up in Miami, FL.  I never knew what preparing ahead, 72hrs kits, or grab n go kits were.  I did know that  every summer we'd have hurricanes and there were things you just did when one was spotted coming our way.  We always filled up the tub with water, brought everything in from outside, and made sure we had plenty of flashlights, batteries, candles, and the radio was working. We also moved our boat to a safe anchorage prior to each storm.  Perhaps living in this scenario prepared me a bit and made me come to where I am today, I don't know. 

On Aug. 23, 1992 I was living in Orlando, FL after having my forth child a few months earlier.  We heard that a hurricane was going to hit Miami.  My parents still lived in my family home in the Kendall area. After we heard that the roads were open, my husband packed up the car and left early in the morning of the 24th to go down and check on my parents.  We knew they were having company stay with them and knew by the predictions that this would be a big one.  When my husband arrived, nothing prepared him for what he found.  

He arrived shortly after the storm hit.  He couldn't find the roads and it took him a long time to find our home.  He found our home virtually destroyed. There was almost no roof at all left and an entire wall of the back of the house was missing and no windows were left intact.  A finger tornado had made a path of destruction through my neighborhood destroying every other home on my street. Luckily my parents and their friends were alive and only suffered glass cuts, none life threatening.  They survived by all of them barricading themselves in one room on the farthest end of the house away from the wind.  My parents were travelers and had many valuable things that were destroyed.  

I went down with the children several days later to help.  We had to lay everything out to dry in humid and sometimes raining weather.  We went through many bottles of bleach cleaning the mildew that quickly formed on everything.  Many pictures were taken to document the extent of the damage and many reports and forms were filed with the insurance company.  Most everything wasn't covered because we didn't have proof of all the items we owned. We were running the generator during the day and night and my husband and father spent many hours hunting down gasoline and water.  There were long lines everywhere waiting to get water and gasoline.  Night times were spent with rotating watches to watch for the frequent looters that were reported in the area.  We were among the lucky ones that had cash on hand to purchase plywood and gasoline. 

The story goes on and on actually impacting all of us this many years later and it especially took a toll on my mother, who would never fully recover emotionally from it.  I have learned several things from this hurricane and more things from the 3 other direct hits our family took living in Central Florida.  

First, I learned to have a some important things on hand as a priority, like a generator, gasoline, water, cell phone or walkie talkies, a gun or two with ammo, and cash. 

Second, I learned how valuable a gas grill is to cook all the food that starts spoiling immediately from you refrigerator.   After one hurricane,  I learned that I lost all my frozen fruit in my freezer because I didn't have enough generator power to power fans and all my appliances like I wanted, so we don't have my entire fruit supply in one "basket" anymore, so to speak.  

I also learned that my dog won't go to the bathroom inside the house no matter what I did, so I had to go outside in the storm with an umbrella with her-which, by the way is useless.  

I learned I need a full rainsuit in  my supply kit.  

I have also learned that I am glad that I have had multiple experiences, it has prepared me for a future disaster better than the last and helped me to educate those around me to be a little more prepared than I was the first time.


Judy Justice said...

Your story was particularly moving because we lived in Ft. Lauderdale in the early 1980s. My husband worked in Hialeah. Then I had very few preparation items. I went through several tropical storms. Because of that I try now to have a good supply of items. Thanks for sharing!