Volusia County Florida is in the direct path of hurricanes when they strike from the central east coast. Some major Floridian cities are affected, including Daytona Beach, surf and race capitol of the world. Volusia County has had its fair share of fierce weather, including last year’s surprise tornado that left more than one person dead, and many displaced and homeless for the holidays.
Hurricanes have hit Florida hard since 1984, when the town of Homestead, a rural community on the outside of Miami, and the last residential stop before the Florida Keys, was all but obliterated by Hurricane Andrew, that broke through wood and concrete like a person snapping a wooden match with one hand. Since 1984, hurricanes are taken seriously in this state, with the local news, meteorologists and weather alerts being reported non-stop to guide and advise people about the possible impending doom of Mother Nature.
Florida’s news reporters do a good job of reporting the latest Doppler readings and the path of the hurricane when en route. There are many precautions the locals and visiting tourists need to be aware of, if they choose to stay put, and not evacuate. Grade four hurricanes in Florida are call for evacuation, but in Volusia County, and throughout 2005 and the two most devastating Hurricanes before Katrina, many brave souls stayed put, and rode out the storm like true Floridians facing down a monster. Here is what Volusia County residents did to prepare themselves, and their house for the hurricanes, and what continues to be the chosen survival, home preservation and coping method.
The most important thing is to board up one’s mobile home or house. If one lives in a mobile home, and the hurricane is a grade 3 or 4, they should first evacuate, depending on time. Take valuable possession’s or personal keepsakes, just in case your home is destroyed. If one owns a home in a residential area, storm shutters are the way to go. If there are no storm shutters, than plywood from Home Depot will serve well as reinforcement for your garage door. If you don’t have any plywood, drive your car or cars against the door. Remember to put the 4×4 piece of wood against the door if you have it, and solid precut sheets of wood against your windows and glass doors as well, both inside and out. It may feel as if you are living in a dark cave for a while, especially if the wind is howling around your house and shaking the rafters, but you will feel better knowing you are safe and your house is protected.
Losing power during a hurricane in the summer in Florida is rough. Stay prepared by keeping a generator handy, with gasoline to keep it running. Keep a spare window air conditioner for your kitchen, because the summer is brutal in Florida without it, and you need to keep the smallest room air conditioned, so as not to burn out or waste too much gasoline. Keep flashlights with plenty of batteries in reach. Candles are good too, but be careful, for fire could happen if one gets careless due to the anxiety of the situation. A weather/hurricane radio is a good asset. During the hurricanes of 2005, people were without power for a week, and radio’s kept victims in touch with what was happening to other Floridians in the same situation.
Many people called into local radio stations to talk about their feelings and give tips on what they were doing to cope. A good tip one caller suggested was to fill your bathtub with water beforehand. The water in his bathtub helped to keep his body temperature down during the power outage. Keep plenty of ice in Styrofoam coolers throughout the house. Rubbing ice on one’s skin reduces body temperature as well. Use your barbecue to cook, and have plenty of canned, nutritious foods and protein shakes in the house, with a manual can opener. You would be surprised at the little things one forgets when in a crisis situation. A change of clothes in zip lock jumbo bags, gallons of clean drinking water, medications kept in a zip-locked, air tight bag and last but not least, a cordless drill for the wood on windows are just some of the best measures people can take to ensure their survival when trapped inside their home or a shelter during a hurricane disaster. This is especially true for the elderly in regards to medicine, food and water, as well as the sick and small children.