A Philosopher's Blog

Florida Hurricane

Posted in Miscellaneous by Michael LaBossiere on September 9, 2016

English: Solar Panel

My adopted state of Florida was just hit by a category one hurricane; my adopted city of Tallahassee sustained considerable damage. A week after the storm hit, there are still people in the city without power. There are also people who suffered considerable property damage. Fortunately, there seems to be only one death attributed to the storm here.

I was rather lucky; though my power was out from Friday to Monday, my house sustained no damage and I was well-prepared. I also had the good fortune of leaving the city on Sunday morning on an already scheduled program review at St. Francis University. While I normally dislike airports, it was great having access to AC and electricity again. While I waited for my first flight out, I enjoyed the cool air and recharged my laptop.

While random chance is a major factor in storms, it is wise to be well prepared for them. I did the usual stuff: checked the area for things the storm could pick up and hurl around, had the trees trimmed two years ago and inspected them again, stocked up on canned and dried goods, filled the tubs with water and made sure my phone was charged. I also went beyond the usual preparation and thought I’d share some of the things that worked.

Being a runner, I have a stock of those cold packs that I use for swelling and pain-I made sure those were all in the freezer well before the storm. I also moved the food to the lowest part of the fridge and freezer. I then filled up sturdy freezer bags with water and placed them around the food (do not overfill these!). After the storm knocked out the power, I quickly moved some of the ice into the fridge along with some of the frozen meat. As the meat thawed, I cooked it and ate it. As did my husky. This was a great week for her.

I was able to cook because I had a camp stove (butane fueled) and a propane BBQ. These are well worth having and it is a good idea to have a stock of fuel on hand. As always, be sure to cook in a well ventilated area and be aware of fire hazards.

While some people bought generators ahead of time, I elected to do without due to cost and the hassle of storing fuel. I did, however, have solar chargers on hand. Nekteck and Anker make small panels (also great for hiking and camping) that are easy to store, but will charge USB powered devices. I also have chargeable battery packs on hand; specifically the Brunton Freedom. This handy device can charge from USB or its own solar panel and holds plenty of charge for small USB powered devices like phones and tablets.  Florida is a sunny state, so solar is an excellent option for an endless supply of power. The fact that these panels can be stored indefinitely (unlike batteries) makes them very useful indeed. And, of course, I have an assortment of crank charging lights, lanterns and radios on hand-these are very useful.

I also have a bow saw, garden shears and axes–all very useful for cutting up trees and they do not require gasoline or electricity. These saw a lot of use over the weekend. I did not have a chance to use my tent, but I have one on hand in case my house is too damaged to live in.

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on September 9, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Good planning. I lost power for two weeks twice. Once after an Arkansas tornado and again after an Arkansas ice storm. It’s good to be prepared.

  2. david halbstein said, on September 10, 2016 at 7:20 am

    I used to live in NJ and we’d get hit with some pretty good hurricanes and coastal storms too; your ideas are good and I’m glad you weathered the storm well. Like you, I thought a generator was too expensive and I didn’t want to deal with the problem of storing food – until I bought one. I think I paid $700 for mine – I think it’s a 1500 watt portable one, with what’s called a “medusa cable” that comes into the house – six extension outlets or so. It’s enough to run a couple of lamps, my computer, chargers for all my devices, the water pump, sump pump and refrigerator.

    The gas storage issue is not really a big deal, considering that we have pretty fair warning when these events are coming. Buy the gas, hold on to it and use it if you need it – and when the storm passes put the unused portion in your car.

    When we left NJ, we rented the house for a short time. In 2011, when Irene hit, our tenant left town. He did not stick around to run the generator or take care of the house – the electricity went out and over a three-day weekend with no sump pump we ended up with about two or three feet of water in the basement. It was an expensive disaster.

    We had the sump pump, the water pump, and the furnace circulation pumps wired in such a way that we could disconnect them and plug them into the medusa cable when necessary. When we finally sold the house, we were told that this was a code violation, that they had to be hard-wired into the electric panel – which is completely absurd and defeats any attempt at preparedness. (Code also required that our smoke alarms be hard wired – who thinks this stuff up?)

    Anyway – glad you survived.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 12, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      I have been looking at solar generators as well as propane/multifuel ones; we might be getting more bad storms and this could make a generator worth the cost and effort. Thanks to my rustic upbringing, I can do fine living a bit wild-so my tolerance for being without full power is quite good.

  3. TJB said, on September 10, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Why “adopted” state of Florida? What happens when you have lived in Florida for many more years than you lived in Maine? Will Florida ever become your home state?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 12, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      I was born in Maine; so Maine is eternally my home. I could live in Florida forever and it would still be my adopted state.

      • TJB said, on September 12, 2016 at 2:10 pm

        Should adopted children consider their birth parents their “real” parents?

      • TJB said, on September 12, 2016 at 2:11 pm

        You left Maine and now live in Florida. It is your home state.

  4. WTP said, on September 10, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Code also required that our smoke alarms be hard wired – who thinks this stuff up?)

    I’ve been in recently built houses of < 2000 sq. ft. that have up to 12 smoke alarms. These codes are lobbied for by the businesses themselves to move product. Building codes are necessary and serve a purpose up to a point. But when things get this silly, you know crony capitalism is behind it.

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