We’re still a couple of weeks from the official start of hurricane season, but this is 2020. So of course we already have something brewing in the tropics.
The National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on an area a few hundred miles northeast of the Bahamas and believes there’s about a 50-50 chance that a subtropical low will develop there. Fortunately all of the models so far are keeping this potential system well away from the states, moving northeast. And given that the entire cruise industry is essentially shut down worldwide, leisure travel isn’t expected to be affected. The Disney Magic is currently eastbound in the Atlantic to repatriate Disney Cruise Line’s European Crew Members but appears to be far enough east that it should be well ahead of any development that might occur.
So this one doesn’t appear to be our storm. But it’s a good reminder that Hurricane Season is upon is. And with store shelves already looking a bit bare in some cases due to COVID-19, it’s even more important to prepare BEFORE the storm threatens. I know this is asking a lot, especially for those who are currently out of work. But I cannot even begin to imagine how ridiculously hard it’s going to be to find supplies if we have a major storm threat on top of an already-strained supply chain.
The remainder of this post is a reprint of some preparedness tips we shared in a post shortly after Dorian finally left us behind. They focus on breaking your hurricane prep into smaller more-affordable chunks. Hopefully the tips will help you find affordable ways to prepare now so you’re ready if a storm comes our way later this summer or fall. Keep calm and carry on!
The best way to prepare is to pre-prepare:
You no doubt saw the meme that Black Friday ain’t got nothin’ on a Florida Walmart before a hurricane. And if you have sensitive ears or are a member of the clergy, don’t ask any local what they think of Amazon’s delivery practices in the days immediately prior to a storm. If you can find any way to afford it, consider pre-preparing before the hurricane even becomes a threat to you. There are very few things you’d have to buy that you wouldn’t normally use outside of a storm.
- One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get started is to simply increase your normal non-perishable grocery inventory (what’s always in your pantry)… and you can slowly build up to this over time. Next time you shop, buy an extra can or two of something. Then the next time, do the same with something else. Having twice as much cereal and soup as you normally would buy gives you some immunity from having to raid the grocery store for canned goods just prior to a storm hitting. This becomes part of your regular grocery shopping… you don’t have a separate hurricane pantry. Rather than only buying more Spaghettios when you run out, you buy more when you get below five cans of them. This is exactly how restaurants do their food purchases. Chez Fancypants Bistro doesn’t wait until they’re out of lobster to buy more lobster… they know that if they have less than 10 lobsters in the tank they need to buy more lobster.
- Consider a longterm plan. It won’t help much for this season, but you can spread all of the preparation costs out over six months or so. Just do a search for “family disaster supplies calendar.” (The version linked here is actually from California, so it has a heavy focus on earthquake prep… but there are several versions out there. Look around and find one you like.) Having that food and those supplies in place well before the storm means you can focus your limited prep time on refueling your vehicle, refilling prescriptions, and finding ice if needed… rather than playing rock paper scissors with some schmuck at Publix over the last can of Chef Boyardee.
- Think ahead about a few slightly larger purchases you can make “today” that will save you money “tomorrow” (or just make your life easier during a storm). For example, $20 reusable multi-gallon water containers that you can refill each time are much more cost-effective in the long run than buying bottled water for every hurricane forever. And of course it’s more environmentally friendly. And $20-$30 battery-powered desktop fans can make a big difference in your quality of life when there’s no air conditioning.
- If you do occasionally have extra money to spend (I’m looking at you, months with five Thursdays instead of four), consider using part of your “playcheck” at least once a year to buy something that costs a little more but will help you out in the long run. For example, a hand-crank/battery radio… a solar powered phone charger or battery bank… or a Yeti-style cooler that may cost a couple of hundred bucks but will keep ice frozen and food cold for a helluva lot longer than a styrofoam one from the convenience store. Each of those items can be used throughout the year for a number of fun purposes too… not just for the odd hurricane.