Getting rid of our stuff has put things in perspective – for those preparing for Hurricane Irma

In the wake of the impending landfall of Hurricane Irma I find myself wanting to blog about my thoughts on the subject especially after embarking on our new minimalist lifestyle. I was born and raised in Florida and have lived there my entire life. We’ve been through numerous storms throughout the years, but one has never threatened quite to this level except maybe Hurricane Andrew. I don’t remember much of Andrew since I was pretty young and it landed in South Florida and I was on the west coast in the Bradenton/Sarasota at the time. The impact it did leave along with every other natural disaster that’s hit somewhere in the world is devastation to property & families. That has always set a fear in my mind, especially after becoming a mother. Your mind changes and that once fun ‘let’s have a hurricane party’ mentality leaves and the ‘holy crap, we gotta get out’ mentality comes in. Now that we have very little ‘property’ it’s all about the safety of my family. However, this time, I’m not in Florida with the rest of my friends and family…I’m up in Maine and should be completely out of harms way. This doesn’t change the fact that I’m completely immersed into the hurricane ‘watch’ on tv while constantly texting everyone I know and love to see what their evacuation plan is going to be.

It turns out that most of my friends and family have decided to hunker down and stand their ground as Hurricane Irma threatens pretty much all of the state of Florida. I want them to leave… I wish they would just drop everything and go….but between too many animals, illnesses and jobs that just isn’t possible. At this point, the storm is getting too close and water and gas and becoming increasingly harder to find, not to mention that both interstates and turnpike are parking lots as everyone scrambles to get out of the ‘usual’ sunshine state. All I can think about is, I wish I was there with them. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be there living in my travel trailer…that’s suicide. (And as a final plea to anyone living in an RV reading this that thinks they’ll be ok ANYWHERE in Fl, GA or SC, I beg you to LEAVE! You may not have time to evacuate in your RV….especially if there isn’t any gas (they’re refilling as quickly as they can!), but take your butt and your family to the closest shelter! As the rest of my family and friends board up windows and stock up on water and food I wish I was there to help. I want to help my family get prepared and be there for them.

Instead, I’m safe…yet uneasy. Yes, I am at ease knowing my daughter and husband are safe, but ultimately there is a HUGE unknown getting ready to blow Florida’s skirt up and that terrifies me. Everyone I know is taking every precaution possible aside from leaving. They have animals, jobs, responsibilities….I get it. It’s not possible for some people. Then I put myself in their shoes and thought, ‘What would I do in this situation??’ Well, that’s easy…I would’ve left last week. You see, after you sell your house and everything you own your mind becomes enlightened in a sense….you realize all of those ‘things’ that you loved so much never really meant that much in the first place. I don’t miss anything and wouldn’t miss it if it were to blow away. It would certainly be a little more traumatic if I came back to my house being blown over, and only now do I know it wouldn’t matter. For anyone that comes back to Florida or steps out of your bunker when the wind has died down and you see utter devastation…look around…do you see your loved ones? Is everyone ok and safe? Then just know it’ll all be ok. Things can be replaced (yah, it might take a while, but you won’t miss that stuff I promise) houses can be rebuilt, and life WILL go on for most of you. Some of you reading may be agreeing with this and some of you reading might be thinking ‘Yah, easy for you to say, you’re in your camper in Maine and nowhere near hurricane winds…your ‘stuff’ is safe!’ Well, yes my clothes and camper and family is safe, but I didn’t get rid of everything…in fact, every ‘thing’ that’s near and dear to me are at my parents and grandmother’s house in Florida. Our wedding album, Ella’s baby album, photos upon photos of priceless memories…that’s the only stuff I care about and it’s in harms way. It still doesn’t matter compared to the safety of my family. I’ll be saying my prayers for everyone I know and love in Florida during this storm and for everyone that’s already been affected by it. I pray we never have to evacuate with the travel trailer, but you can bet your butt I wouldn’t think twice to leave it if it meant the safety of myself and my family.

All anyone can do is be as prepared as possible, and if you don’t think that’s enough then it’s always a safe bet to just leave. So, if you’re on the fence for any particular reason…pack up your family and animals and hit the road, book a plane ticket outta there or take shelter at a hurricane safe facility. This is Mother Nature at her worst and no one should take the chance if you are able to leave. As much as I want you all to leave, I understand the feeling of needing or wanting to stay to be there with your family….as crazy as it sounds, I wish I was there to help mine instead of being ‘safe’.

Another PSA…Let’s all take this time to be human towards one another….stop the madness and fighting over the cases of water and share the resources you DO have. Be compassionate. You may need that help in return one day or in the event of a disaster.

Godspeed to all who are in it’s path and those who were just affected in Texas by Hurricane Harvey.

Here’s a link to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief:

I will certainly be making my way down to Florida to help with clean up and look to help with funding disaster relief help where I can.

For anyone that needs a reminder of what happens to a travel trailer or RV during a hurricane…..

Not sure how long you can grab a flight, but JetBlue is pretty awesome!! $99 flights outta Florida!

✔️Floridians: in path of Hurricane…prepare!

1. Local stores might be out of good LED flashlights and lanterns, for example. Have at least one flashlight for every person in your family, and ideally have a lantern or two for general lighting.

2. Take photos today or tomorrow of every room, every piece of electronics, and everything valuable. Upload the pictures to the cloud – Dropbox, Microsoft Cloud, iCloud, Google Drive, etc. – before the storm.

3. Also take photos of key documents and upload them as well. You can do that today.

4. Save your contacts in your phone to the cloud. If you don’t know how to do that, frame grab your screen or have someone take photos of your contacts with their phone and email or text the pictures back to you to a friend. Don’t take a chance on losing your contacts if something happens to your phone.

5. Secure your photographs and albums in double plastic bags.

6. Plastic bags and duct tape are your friends. You can’t buy to many of them. Put documents in gallons-size (or larger) Ziploc bags. Put larger items in double large trash bags cocooned so the opening of the first bag is in the bottom of the second bag. Put some clothes in plastic bags in case you get a roof leak. Duct tape bags closed. Put valuables on a high shelf in a closet.

7. Think now about where you are going to park your car. A parking garage is ideal. Outside in a low-lying area or under a tree is the worst. Think about all of the cars you’ve seen ruined in storms because people made bad choices about where they parked the car before the storm. When we know the storm track, we’ll have a better idea which side of a building will give the best protection. Next to a building on the downwind side gives you the best chance if you have to leave your car outside.

8. Do your laundry and wash your dishes before the storm.

9. You dishwasher is an excellent “safe” in your house if you need someplace to put valuables. Your washer and dryer can offer good protection as well. These could be good places to put your bagged-up photos, for example.

10. Fill Ziploc bags ¾ full of water and stuff them in your freezer to fill up the space. The less air you have in the freezer, the longer your refrigerator will stay cold. Do NOT turn your refrigerator to any lower setting than normal – that can damage the unit.

11. Choose a friend or relative out of town to be the contact point for your family or group of friends. After a storm, it is always easier to get a call out of the area than within the storm zone. Be sure everybody has the out-of-town number and make a plan to check in ASAP after the storm.

12. If you live in a high rise, be sure you know what the procedures are going to be in the building. Will the building be evacuated? Will the water continue to work? Will elevators work? What is on a generator? If you can stay in the building (if it’s away from the water) find an interior hallway on a low floor where you can set up camp during the storm. It will not be safe to be on a high floor or near windows, even with modern hurricane impact windows. A hallway surrounded by concrete is your best bet.

13. Think about what you will sit on if you are in a hallway or other safe spot for a number of hours – maybe 12 hours or more. Consider comfortable folding chairs. Take food to your safe spot. Have books or other non-electronic amusements, including for the kids.

14. Do NOT count on your cellphone for communications. When Harvey hit Texas as a Cat 4, it knocked out the mobile phone system. In addition, your battery may run down and you may have no ability to charge it. In any case, it’s essential you have a portable AM/FM radio that you can leave on so the entire family can hear what’s going on with the storm.

15. Most importantly, be sure you know a safe place where you and your family can ride out the storm, if it comes. This is the most critical decision you can make today. There almost certainly will be evacuations ordered for parts of Florida. If you live near the water, put together the food, clothes, valuable items, and important papers you’ll take with you NOW. Leave as early as possible. There will be a crush on the road and you may not find a hotel in the entire state of Florida.