Hurricane Irma Report

Hurricane Irma report #4: Checking in while the sun shines

by Joey deVilla on September 9, 2017

Here’s a selfie from our yard taken yesterday morning:

Joey deVilla poses in his yard with a blue sky in the background, on the morning of Friday, September 8, 2017.

Yesterday morning.

Here’s another from the same place, taken this morning:

Joey deVilla poses in his yard with a blue sky in the background, on the morning of Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Here’s a wider shot of the yard, also taken this morning:

Anitra and Joey’s yard, with a crepe myrtle in the foreground, and a white picket fence and palm trees in the background.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

And finally, here’s the Lowe’s that’s walking distance from our place at around 9:00 this morning. They closed soon after:

A very full Lowe’s with cashier lines running the width of the warehouse store.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Our status so far: We have plenty of provisions, and we’ve done the last of the work involved with the outside of the house. For the rest of today and tomorrow, it’s all about securing the house from the inside, which includes preparing our Harry Potter-style shelter in the safest room: the closet under the stairs.

As is the tradition with posts in this series, a thematically-appropriate music video:

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Hurricane Irma, as seen from space, with guitar.

As of noon on Thursday, September 7th, I can already find three musical tributes to Hurricane Irma on Youtube.

The people at Under Pressure Power Washing LLC have a side gig as dancehall DJs, if their State of Emergency Song is any indication:

Charity Shine on Me is an earnest, folksy prayer written by Chris Eschete while stuck in a hotel in Shreveport:

And finally, Juan Pastel is playing it up for laughs with Ay Irma (La cancion del Huracan Irma), which he introduces as his only — and possibly last — song. Even with my (very) basic Spanish, I found it amusing.

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Cover of the 2014 edition of the FEMA Emergency Supply List document

The latest edition (2014) of the FEMA Emergency Supply List recommends the following items for a basic emergency supply kit:

  • At least one gallon of water per person per day (people who go to Burning Man already know this by heart) for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation.
  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • A radio, either battery or hand crank-powered, and extra batteries. If you have one of those NOAA weather radios with a tone alert, even better.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries (and if its battery receptacles are screwed up, fix them!).
  • First aid kit.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask, to filter contaminated air.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • Manual can opener for canned goods.
  • Local maps.

It also recommends these additional items, which you may or may not need, depending on your situation:

  • Prescription medications and glasses.
  • Infant formula and diapers.
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet.
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  • Cash. (The guide also recommends traveler’s checks, but have you ever tried using one recently? Nobody knows what to do with them anymore.)
  • Sleeping bag or a blanket for each person.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. This is no time to do the Florida “shorts and flip-flops” thing.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels.
  • Paper and pencil.
  • Books, games, puzzles, and other activities. (The guide recommends these for children, but why should they have all the fun?)

Since this post is about lists, and since I want to include a song on every Hurricane Irma Report, here’s Hall and Oates:

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Map showing the 'earliest reasonable arrival time' of tropical-storm-force winds created by Hurricane Irma.

Here’s the NOAA’s estimation of the “earliest reasonable arrival time”
of tropical-storm-force winds created by Hurricane Irma.
Click the graphic to see it at full size.

With Hurricane Irma expected to hit Florida on Saturday morning at the earliest, you may be wondering if you should stay put or evacuate. Or, as The Clash put it:

In the end, it mostly (but not entirely) comes down to a single question: Are you near the water?

I’ll leave it to Tampa Bay’s most senior TV meteorologist, Paul Dellegatto from local channel FOX 13, to explain:

I am getting a lot of questions asking about when we should evacuate.

You only evacuate to escape storm surge flooding from the Gulf and Bay. It is why we have evacuation zones near the Gulf and Bay.

You do not evacuate from the wind unless you live in a mobile home or you are facing a CAT 5 making landfall and you are expecting Andrew conditions right at the point of landfall.

Water is the killer. Wind is not. You run from water. You hide from wind.

We cannot evacuate the state based on the fact there may be strong winds. Given the options you would be better off riding out a storm in a well built home, out of an evacuation zone, then trying to drive up I-75 to a motel in Valdosta. You do not want to become part of the caravan driving up I-75. Trust me. It is a miserable option.

Hurricane Irma, as seen from space.

Hurricane Irma as seen from space.
Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra and I are always stocked for a hurricane, right down to the camping stove in case the electricity and gas go out. I’ve topped off our supplies, and picked up some extra sandbags. The one thing we don’t have is a generator, and hey, we may get one someday.

As of this morning, you’d never know that a major hurricane was coming if you didn’t have the benefit of radar. Here’s what the weather was like, as seen from our yard:

Sunny skies, as seen from Anitra and Joey’s yard, Carrollwood, Tampa.

The view from our yard, around 10:00 a.m., Thursday, September 7, 2017.

For the benefit of friends and family who are wondering how we’re doing, as well as for the curious and those looking for information, I’ll post regularly here. Watch this space!

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