If I learned anything from last  year's hurricane season, it was I am not as ready as I thought I was.  I have been in Florida for 33 years and never really prepared.Sure, I had a case or two of water, even filled up a few gallon jugs of water, but as the years went by, each year I did less and less until 2017 rolled around and little miss Irma decided to roll in.  Even then, I was one of those who thought
the weather folks were just filling time, talking about how it "could" impact my town of Clearwater.
   I didn't do anything to prepare, but luckily on Tuesday morning before the storm rolled in later in the week, I talked to a trusted friend of mine, who has lived here all his life and he told me that for some reason this storm wasn't like the ones in the last few years and he was getting his business and home ready; boarding up windows, stocking up on food, water, bought a generator, etc.,  He even bought a Deuce and a Quarter, so he could get to his dog boarding business and move dogs if he had too  (shout out to Paws in Paradise, they took in over 60 dogs belonging to first responders while they were unable to be at home with their furry kids).
    I decided that maybe I should do some prepping also so, I went to my neighborhood big box store  (now closed and I miss it!)  with my son, and they were getting ready.  They had cases and cases of water, right at the front door, flashlights, batteries, everything you would need and the store was empty of customers,
aside from the normal early morning shoppers.  We took complete advantage.  We got cases of water, all sizes of batteries, lanterns for every room in the house, flashlights, bug spray, non perishable food, coolers for food, ice packs, toilet paper, kitty litter and a large 5 gallon bucket and toilet seat (my son made a makeshift
toilet just in case we lost water, which we did for a bit), portable cell phone chargers (again, thank God my son was with me, I would of passed right over that), and large storage containers to hold all of our newly purchased hurricane kit. We also filled up both our vehicles with fuel and hit the bank for some cash, just in case the power is out for an extended time. 
    Later in the day, we decided to go back to the store, just to make sure we didn't forget anything. The store was packed!!! People were out shopping and preparing, more than I have ever seen in this area of Florida. I took that as a sign that we did the right thing.

        "We were so lucky, as bad as it was, which is as bad as I have ever seen,  it was so much worse on literally millions of people".            

  We found out a few days later we did.  As the storm hit and we sat in the glow of battery powered lanterns, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and played
board and card games. It was like camping, with the thought in the back of your mind that we could be whisked away to Oz at any moment, or the sounds of the trees outside didn't turn into having one of them crash into the house. My neighbor bought a generator, so you could hear the hum of it between the rain squalls.  We used our lanterns in every room of the house, so that helped make it not so scary.     We didn't have a generator so it did get warm and muggy during the day, but we managed.  We still have old school roll out windows, so they can be left open even in a hard rain. We also have old school awnings over the windows, which look
outdated, but they do the job, they protected our windows and we didn't  get a scratch on any of them. We were so lucky, as bad as it was, which is as bad as I have ever seen, it was so much worse on literally millions of people.
    Afterwards, the news told of looters and con artists trying to rip people off by fixing their roofs and running away without doing the work, as well as unlicensed workers doing substandard work and there was plenty of that.  Law enforcement are still making arrests to this day regarding that issue. 

   But, there were so many acts of kindness that people just don't hear about.
People packing up their unused supplies and giving them to those who needed them, donating their generators, clothes food,  whatever they had.  People sharing with neighbors who may have not been prepared, it was good to see such humanity.

                                "So, this year, I am taking no chances".

   So, this year, I am taking no chances. My son and I have saved up and are buying a generator, we will add to our supplies a little every month, so it is an easier expense, instead of waiting till a storm is on the way.  I have trimmed trees back so if they do go down, hopefully our house will remain intact.   And we will help out those neighbors who either can't or won't prepare.

   Thanks for reading and I hope it helped.

Stay Southern Strong and Rocky Mountain Ready!!!


Note:  Sandy is the Southeast Regional Director for RMR.

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