There was an uneasy feeling in the air as the storm began to enter our community. Not once did we truly comprehend the severity which the raging winds and bustling ferocity of destruction would destroy in our path. This wasn’t the type of storm that we usually encountered. None of us lived near the coast and this was the type of storm that the sea would bring to its shores. This was a storm that would devastate homes and businesses for years to come.
Many of us have experienced devastating storms throughout our lives. This was Hurrican Michael. For North Carolina, it was one of the most intense storms we had seen in years. “Hurricane Michael was a very powerful and destructive tropical cyclone that became the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. In addition, it was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. It was the first Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle, the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane in the contiguous United States, in terms of wind speed, and the most intense hurricane on record to strike the United States in the month of October.” (Wikipedia) The storm hit the area I live in 2018. Its effects are still felt today.
I’ll never forget where I was when the storm hit. I was in a building that was surrounded by a lot of metal and glass. Any of you who work in storage facilities, know that many facilities don’t have a storm cellar to duck when things get rough. The storm was so intense that it moved the company truck several feet while it was parked. Talk about scary. The doors to the building swung open and I couldn’t get them to close without locking them. The winds were whipping all around to where I saw trees look as if they were about to be uprooted from the ground. That wind made the movie Twister look like silly putty. It was real. It became intimidating and for the first time in a long time, I was terrified to be at the office. There was no power. Power lines were down all around the area. People had been in multiple car accidents because of the storm. At the time, I didn’t know what was truly going to happen. I had to get in a corner and hunker down because a customer was in the bathroom and wouldn’t come out. They were in the safest spot of the building. All I heard was the wind whipping on the roof and all around me. Since the building I was in didn’t have any safe spots other than the bathroom which was occupied, all I could do was hunker down and pray.
When a person is in a storm that intense and not used to it, there is a sense of wonder, curiosity, fear, adrenaline, and disbelief. I’ve often said that I envy the storm chasers. Those men and women risk their lives every day to help obtain information that can help all of us in the long run. Many people think they are crazy to do what they do. In truth, they have the courage to do what others are afraid of. In many ways, they have their own badge of courage.
There are many different hurricanes that we have dealt with and will have to deal with in the future. Since we are in a very volatile time of hurricane and tropical storm weather, I thought it might be helpful to remember a few tips. They are as follows:
- Make a plan. If evacuation is necessary, turn off all utilities and follow community disaster preparedness plans. Plans are very helpful. Stay calm when carrying out those plans. If you panic you will only make things worse.
- Secure the exterior. If you secure things like plants and other items that the wind can pick up, you reduce some of the debris that can be hurled. You don’t want to get hit with flying debris. It can be lethal.
- Install storm shutters. If you are able to do this, I highly recommend it. Most storage places in the Southern US don’t have these but there are exceptions. No matter what business or home you have, it’s best to make sure you are protected.
- Check wall hangings and art. This helps protect your art.
- Move your cars. Just like I mentioned before powerful storms can move vehicles that are parked.
- Power up. If you have dead batteries, then you won’t be able to use what you need with the storm or call for help.
- Unplug appliances. This is important. Fire hazards are prominent with appliances.
- Store important documents. Safes are a great way to ensure important documents don’t disappear.
The biggest thing is to remain calm. It’s easy to lose focus when you get scared. Some of you deal with storms like this frequently. Others only have them happen sporadically. Don’t get cocky. You may have experience with storms but all it takes is one wrong move to cause you to suffer a grim fate. Use your sense that you were given to prepare. When you do, you are in better shape to get through the storm in better shape than if you just winged it. Stay safe everyone.