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June 1, 2007

Welcome To Hurricane Season
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:01 AM *

MIAMI, Florida (AP) — Most people along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts still lack a hurricane survival plan and don’t feel vulnerable to storms, despite Katrina’s dramatic damage and pleas from emergency officials for residents to prepare before the season starts, according to a poll released Thursday.

The six-month Atlantic season starts Friday, and forecasters have predicted an above-average year: 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming hurricanes and three to five of those major ones of at least Category 3 strength. One forecaster said odds were high that a major hurricane would hit the U.S. this year.

Well, today’s the first day of hurricane season. Now through November anywhere on the Atlantic coast could get nailed, and the incompetents are still in charge over at the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff wasn’t fired after Katrina. There’s no indication that any of the political appointees in the current administration could find their own asses if you gave them written directions and a full-color map. The intelligent, serious people who are still around in positions of power have their hands full trying to clean up the rest of the Frat Pack’s messes; their attention is distracted overseas.

So, stand the heck by.

Pick up a supply of water and non-perishable food. Store an axe in the attic. Get a weather radio. Keep the car gassed up and be ready to evacuate at the first hint of trouble.

Time for me to tout my own jump kit inventory lists again.

See also: Fidelio on Flooding. The Flood Bucket inventory list. (Beat the rush! Get your supplies now!)

Researcher William Gray, based at Colorado State University, said Thursday there was a 74 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast this year. His updated forecast still predicts 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.

There is a 50 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, according to the new forecast; the long-term average is 31 percent. The chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas, is 49 percent; the long-term average is 30 percent. There is also an above-average chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean, Gray said.

The most important thing you can do right now? Make a plan. (You know that FEMA hasn’t….)

Stay safe.

Comments on Welcome To Hurricane Season:
#1 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 12:10 AM:

As I understand it, there's still no scientific methodology for predicting how many hurricanes will occur in any given year. There is, however, one guy in Colorado who will give the newspapers a prediction anyway.

#2 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 12:49 AM:

Mr. desJardins, the CNN article that Jim cited links to another CNN article:

"National Weather Service forecasters said they expect 13 to 17 tropical storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming hurricanes."

Sounds like there's a methodology, and more than one scientist providing forecasts.

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 01:38 AM:

I grant you the population is bigger on the East Coast and around the Gulf so all the publicity and worry is directed there, but we're not wholly free of risk out here in the mid-Pacific, either. There have already been two named storms in this part of the world (Alvin's gone and Barbara's threatening Acapulco).

I have what I hope is a decent kit stashed; I'd just as soon never have to find out what I've forgotten.

#5 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Don't forget to toss a hand-cranked LED flashlight into that go bag. I picked up a couple of the latest model from Costco the other day: flashlight, AM/FM radio, and 5-volt USB port for recharging your cell phone, all in one.

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 02:37 AM:

I'm not in hurricane territory, but I have a solar panel that can keep the battery on my car trickle-charged. Also a portable 12v battery--you can get them combined with an auto-battery charger, often described as "power stations".

We do get power cuts for other reasons. And all those cordless phones depend on mains current for the base stations. A cheap, traditional, telephone plugged into the line could be a lifesave.

These are small things that, because the big things are so overwhelming, can get forgotten.

#7 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 03:08 AM:
As I understand it, there's still no scientific methodology for predicting how many hurricanes will occur in any given year. There is, however, one guy in Colorado who will give the newspapers a prediction anyway.

I would advise you to try again, Steven.

The forecast in question is the prediction of the total estimated accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) for the season as compared to the historic median. ACE is a measurement of the total kinetic energy of a storm over its entire life -- the ACE for a season is the total energy for all the storms. You can read a discussion of this year's climate prediction, including this summary:

The prediction for an above-normal 2007 hurricane season reflects the expected combination of two main climate factors: 1) the continuation of conditions that have been conducive to above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995, and 2) the strong likelihood of either ENSO-neutral or La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
This is followed by a more detailed discussion of such factors as "key atmospheric wind parameters", the "tropics-wide multi-decadal signal", "equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures", as well as "La Niña-like distribution of tropical convection".

I would venture to call that beacoup methodology.

Also, I have no idea who you might be referring to in Colorado, unless it is someone at NCAR. This analysis, though, is a product of NOAA Climate Prediction Center in Maryland, and the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

#8 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 03:20 AM:

re MREs, and the buying of same.

Anything in a dark brown wrapper is old. Most of the major components will be fine, but some of them will be off (and when the cheese spread goes off, it's bad).

There are some cut-rate MREs, I forget what they are called, but they come in clear wrappers, and are basically missing components. They are meant for Reserve Component drill weekends. They suck.

MREs will keep you alive. Some of them are better than others, everyone has a different opinion on which ones are inedible. They beat starving.

Keep them in a place with a steady temperature.

The heaters are useful. They work best when in close contact with the item to be heated. Slide them back into the box the food item came from. The water they have in them, when they've been used, is toxic. Don't drink it. Technically it's hazardous waste, but it's not that bad.

On the other hand, don't use the heaters in a closed space (they smell awful) and don't use them near open flame... they outgas hydrogen.

If you can get a couple of cases, break one open and keep a couple in the trunk of your car. If you should break down, it's nice to have food.

I also reccomend going to a surplus store and buying one, for everyone, and actually eating it. That will make it easier to break into them when the time comes.

It will also give you something to talk about at parties.

#9 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 03:29 AM:

Back in another of these ever-helpful and ongoing 'how not to die' threads, I commented on my method of keeping a month's supply of food ready. While parts of my plan are specific to earthquake country, I think the overall method can help get an emergency food supply going if you've been having problems with that.

For some people (like me), the "rotate your emergency food supplies into your day-to-day supplies" method doesn't work well. Keeping track takes time, the tastiest foods you'd want for emergencies can be too easy to use, less tasty foods can end up expiring.

What does work for me is- in short- to buy donations for a local food kitchen every 6 months, but wait 6 months before bringing it in. What I do is:

1. Have reasonable supplies of spices, oils, condiments and vitamins on hand. I like Costco's multivitamins for price and content.
2. Buy 120,000 kcalories [60k kcal/ person/ month] of inexpensive, bulk-priced, low-volume, easy-to-sauce foods that will expire in no less than 18 months.
3. Store food in a safe place (or two) away from regular food storage.
4. In 6 months, buy the identical 120k kcalories of food. Donate the first set to a food bank.
5. Repeat.

I used to think that my emergency food kit should have a wide variety of many types of food- as if I'd be camping for a week. That's part of what made the old system hard for me to maintain.

Now I strongly believe that foods need to be good and tasty enough to eat, but not more than that. That the food is filling and comforting (i.e. nothing weird) is enough. The gourmet camping experience is an entirely different mindset.

#10 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 04:57 AM:

I'm inland and out of hurricane country. I need to go look to see if there's been an "Only you can prevent forest fires" thread from Uncle Jim. I can contribute this from my experiences with extended power outages.

If you have a generator, make sure everyone (of a responsible age) in the family knows the startup procedures. Especially where the main breaker from the utility to your house is located and how to throw it, so you don't backfeed power to the grid and electrocute a lineman.

Have fuel ready and perform regular maintenance. If you have children or inexperienced adults go over the basics of living off the generator - to use as little electricity as possible.

In our house, it's the following:

1) Keep the furnace running
2) Keep the refrigerator running
3) Keep the water pump running (we have a holding tank)

Depending on your situation, you'll have other priorities for what needs to be powered.

#11 ::: Ken houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 09:02 AM:

Aw, c'mon, Jim. FEMA is "more prepared." They say so here.

Don't you feel better now?

#12 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Dave Barry has a great hurricane preparedness guide. Sadly, the Miami Herald has decided it's too old, but you can find it plagiarized with random additions and subtractions around the net. He should really put it up on his own site.

#13 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 09:49 AM:

Wait! it's here:
You'll need to scroll down to September 16.

Also, for "great" you might want to substitute "funny" to differentiate it from your other links.

#14 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 10:09 AM:

We're out of the path of hurricanes here, but between heavy rainstorms, the occasional icestorm, and the sucky power distribution system (all aboveground), we lose power often enough to have to worry about it. The longest period so far in the last 30 years for us was 36 hours, but there are places out at the end of feeder lines that have been out for a week or more when the line repair crews get overwhelmed.

Water isn't a problem for us; Portland is entirely gravity-fed, so heat and food are the primary concerns, since outages are usually in the months between December and March. Weather-proofing your house is a good idea in general, but in an outage, if you don't have a generator, it can keep you warm for much longer with less energy.

Some do's and don'ts, mostly applicable to any emergency. Guaranteed tested in a real volcano eruption :-):

Don't for the sake of your life, use a charcoal barbecue or a propane heater as a heat source inside. Odds are you'll die if you do. (I know, everyone knows that; but it's worth repeating).

Keep several flashlights around; preferably stored in different places so you're close to one when the lights go out. LED types are best. Don't buy cheap standard flashlights made in China; they're not reliable, and can go out for no obvious reason even when brand new (true story).

As Dave Bell said, keep a standard telephone around. You can get one for $5-$10, and they last for years when not in use, but check the operation every 6 months or so, just in case.

For cooking food, we keep a propane camp stove and a couple of spare tanks in a closet; it's an old but reliable one that's kept strictly for emergencies. Many people in the US have gas grills; they work fine, but they do use a lot of gas, so ration it if you don't know how long your power will be out.

Oh, and if you do keep emergency food in the car, remember that it's not at optimum storage temperature in the summer. In fact, most places it can get near optimum cooking temp. So replace the food much more often than your house supply.

#15 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 11:32 AM:

We're spending the weekend setting up supplies. Mostly we make sure all the flashlights/radios have plenty of the right batteries; bottled water (we're lucky here; my mother has a Zephyr Hill water cooler and they also bring it in bottles if you ask them);and that there is enough canned stuff to last us a couple of weeks.
Most importantly we make sure the cheap old fashioned telephone and the hand cranked radio work. It's amazing how you can run through batteries; better to have something you can use even though you don't have them.
So far, so good. But damnit, we just put a new roof on the house!

#16 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 12:06 PM:

I'd like to add a few things to the list of necessities. These are not items that would be needed for during or immediately after a storm, but if you are without power or amenities for weeks, these can help make life more bearable.

We were without power for several weeks after Katrina. Not only that, no banks, grocery stores, restaurants, or pharmacies were open for quite some time. Also, after Katrina, many of the items on the following list were in very short supply or downright impossible to find, so best to stock up now.

Air mattresses and pump. If you have people staying with you (evacuees, or family/friends who sustained enough damage to their residence to render it unlivable) this will make lives somewhat more pleasant. Or, if you have a two story house, you will NOT want to try to sleep on an upper floor. Remember, hurricane season is in the summer, which means that it's stinkin' hot. We slept on loaned air matresses in the living room for three weeks.

Generator. Duh. Fire it up now and make sure it works.

Small window-unit air conditioner. Remember, it'll be stinkin' hot, and a generator and a small AC can give you at least one cool room for sleeping.

Chain saw that works and the knowledge/skill to use it. Unless you live on a major thoroughfare it is entirely possible that you will have to cut your own way out. As soon as the storm passed, everyone who stayed and had chain saws got out and started clearing roads as much as possible. You can't sit back and wait for the authorities to come do it; in a major storm there's just too much to be done and they will need to concentrate their efforts on major roads. And don't think that interstates will be immune to blockage from trees. After the storm we tried to drive up I-59 and had to turn back shortly into Mississippi because it was completely blocked for miles from downed trees. However, I do want to again emphasize, have the skill to use it.

Heavy gloves. Lots of them.

Hand saw for when you run out of gas on the chainsaw.

A power inverter that will allow you to charge/run small items from your car.

Empty gas cans. Lots of them. These became impossible to find after Katrina.

Battery powered fans. Marine supply stores carry these. Get regular batteries as well as rechargeable batteries and use the inverter listed above to recharge them.

A few boxes of babywipes, or a strong tolerance for bracingly cold showers.

A fallback financial plan in case your job is destroyed by the storm.

A friend or relative who lives far away from the potential diaster area who has a list of people to notify that you are alive and all right. This way you only need to find one working phone to make one phone call. Four days after the storm I received a call from a woman in DC to tell me that my sister and her family had survived.

A cell phone that has the ability to send/receive text messages. For at least two weeks voice calls were erratic at best, but text messages would usually eventually go through.

Spare clothing that is stored in a high location. If you flood you might still have something to wear.

Clothespins. You'll waste generator gas for the washing machine, but no reason to do so for the dryer.

And remember, if there's a boil water order in effect, that means water for brushing teeth as well. (Realized that one the hard way.)

Just remember, for a major storm you need to anticipate being without power for several weeks.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Battery powered clocks. (Travel alarms do well for this. The batteries in these will last for a long time.)

#18 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Until quite recently, my interests in floods was only a little less theoretical than my interest in volcanoes, but developments at the Wolf Creek Dam* have made it a little more personal, what with the public libraries putting up inundation map displays** and all.

Here are some sites where you can check out local safety and risk issues. (Yes, many of you already know about yours. Who doesn't need another timesink of a Friday afternoon?)
The government flood insurance folks make it possible to check out a specific address's level of flood risk here. There are still enough competent people at FEMA that they remembered to warn you their flood maps may not be perfectly up-to-date, and that only some are available online--others must be ordered and sent to you.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation (FKA the Bureau of Land Reclamation) are responsible for many of the large dams in the country; the TVA is responsible for a good many more. Check them for a dam near you!

The USGS, in addition to those nice topographic maps, keeps an eye on faultlines and volcanoes, and NOAA watches the weather, among other things.

If you are in a coastal area, or downstream from a large dam, try googling "inundation maps"; these include predicted areas of flooding for tsunamis and dam failures.

It's easy to be busy with life, and not notice potential risks and hazards, or even imminent ones. Consider the possibilities locally, and make a plan before it's urgent. One part of your plan should always be some cash on hand, even if the best you can do is $20 or $50. Another part should be "What's the best way out of here if X?". Another is "When should I stay, and when should I leave?"

*The foundation and the ground around it are eroding like there's no tomorrow, so failure is a possibility, even if the dam itself looks Just Fine. The fix involves lots of concrete grout. Karst formations: when you really want to live on top of a rocky sponge.

**We have looked, and we Have a Plan***.

***I had the strangest urge to type "D4m R 6o1n6 2 f4l3?! oh noes! We cn h4z pl4n NOWS!" I blame abi.

#19 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 01:27 PM:

On a related note: I am willing to be a phone point for people. Send me a note, and I'll send you my phone number.

#20 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Back up your data to portable media and/or offsite data storage that's not in the same place that you're in. For example, copying stuff from your Florida server to your Minnesota server* would be one way to go. Burning DVD's of your stuff and putting the DVD's in waterproof bags and putting one set at your house and a second set at your Mom's house would be another.

*and then backing up both servers to tape and storing the tapes offsite in fireproof vault facilities a couple of miles from your Florida and Minnesota offices, if you're doing this professionally.

#21 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 01:38 PM:

A word to those who are landlocked:

Any season is Tornado season, and they can happen anywhere, anytime, in the continental USA.

For the animal lovers in the crowd:

If you have pets, they need a jump bag/emergency kit too.

#22 ::: Diana Rowland ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 03:17 PM:

Another for my list:

If you maintain a blog, give someone you trust the password and know-how to post an entry for you in the event you are unable to. That's a very easy way to let lots of people know your status.

#23 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Storing Fuel:

Here in the UK there are strict limits on the quantity of "petroleum spirit" you may legally store. That's gasoline to you.

On the other hand, diesel is effectively uncontrolled. It's also (with tracer dye, because of taxes) a standard heating fuel. (Yes, they want bunded storage tanks now, stuff like that, but there isn't the same quantity limit.)

Law is one thing. I have NATO-spec jerrycans. They're designed to safely store petrol and face rough use, though they're bigger than the legal limit. I don't recommend the metal flexible pouring spouts. Don't store the fuel in the house.

And rotate fuel supplies too.

A Kelly cooker is good. It's a kettle shaped like a hollow cylinder, like a chimney: good for a campfire, but also useful for a gas burner.

Standard military water cans are plastic, there days, the same size as a jerrycan. You can get metal jerrycans with a plastic lining. Don't be tempted to use mil-surplus metal jerrycans for water.

(I think I've said some of this before)

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 04:19 PM:

re Dave @ 22

The Kelly Kettle is available from Lee Valley:
Small Kelly Kettle® 45K17.80
The small kettle measures about 10-1/2" tall by 5-5/8" in diameter, has a 26 oz capacity and weighs 1.2 lb.
Large Kelly Kettle® 45K17.85
The large kettle measures about 15" tall by 7-1/4" in diameter, has a 48 oz capacity and weighs 2.1 lb.

Not cheap, though.

#25 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 06:20 PM:

And right on schedule, we have tropical storm Barry. He is so far not expected to become a hurricane.

#26 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Barry is headed for the areas of southern Georgia and northern Florida that have been beset by wildfires for the past several weeks. Go Barry!!

#27 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Ok, a few low-tech suggestions as well:

To paraphrase Hiroaki Protagonist, 'axes don't run out of fuel'. Of course, you've got to have the muscle and knowledge to use them safely, but they keep going as long as you will. You can clear more trees with a chainsaw, of course, but an axe (like a handsaw) is good backup.

Transportation that will let you go around/over downed trees is nice too. This is for after the storm has passed: don't try driving in an actual hurricane. Bicycles work remarkably well for this because you can always get off and lift them over obstacles. They don't have much hauling capacity, and the speed is lower than a car, so they're not good for evacuation, but getting around town after a storm, when lots of roads are blocked, or fuel is scarce, they rock.

Oh, and wind-up clocks work fine, if you still have one. They may be hard to buy these days, though.

I've got a nice alcohol cooking stove (made out of two beer cans and a soda can), and a wood stove as well, so we're set for cooking. The alcohol stove is also much safer in terms of air quality (less than half the CO and no particulates, NOx, or VOCs) than petroleum or charcoal stoves, though obviously you still need decent ventilation. I may well make up another 3 or 4 so I can have them to give out to neighbors.

The BYU solar stove that was particled a few months back would be even better (zero emissions, and you can use it as a refrigerator at night), but it doesn't work without sunlight, which you don't always have after a storm goes through.

We need to build the food and water reserves back up ASAP, though.

#28 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2007, 10:49 PM:

I was just reading yesterday about hauling cargo by bike. The link is to an outfit in Iowa that delivers stuff (even furniture) using large bicycle trailers.

#29 ::: Hal Heydt ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 03:32 AM:

A few more suggestions...

Contact your local Fire Department. Find out if your area has a CERT program. Get trained in how to *use* the stuff you're accumulating for emergencies (and how to train others to be of use doing the things that need doing).

Need a fire? Get a mag block and learn how to use it.

Generator? Gasoline has a limited shelf life. Add fuel stabilizer if you're going to store it more than a very few months. That way, you can store it for a year.

You can now get small, battery powered (3x AAA) LED desk lamps.

There are tons of lists for disaster prep supplies on the web. If you don't know where to start, try the American Red Cross.

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 08:18 AM:

For an outline of the British Army 24-hour ration packs, have a look here. They're packaged for one person, and easy re-heating in the field, but the listing is a good guide for assembling a less portable stockpile for the family.

Don't forget the can-opener.

Some of us have medical problems which require some care on what we eat.

I've been working on a CGI model of British '37-pattern webbing, and this prompts me to ask how you might carry stuff. There are all sorts of essentially political reasons why army-surplus kit might be a bad idea, but a waistbelt with a water-bottle and a couple of pouches for documents, medication, and such could be very useful. Pink fluffy bunnies, rather than camouflage, I think.

Groundsheet, basha, poncho; there's all sorts of gear that can provide weather shelter. Again, probably best to avoid cammo. In one of those really bright, spot-from-orbit, colours it's something that might be a lifesaver, just making sure you can be seen. (Roadside breakdown: do you have a reflective jacket?)

The plus side of military surplus is that it is cheap and a lot of effort has gone into design and testing. The downside is that it doesn't necessarily use the most expensive materials: there are companies which do very nicely out of supplying British soldiers with combat clothing made of the latest high-tech fabrics: the water-shedding breathable stuff.

Ammo boxes are designed to keep the contents dry, but do you really want to walk around with one when the National Guard are on the streets? At least repaint it.

#31 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:02 AM:

A not terribly fancy bike equipped with front and rear racks can haul up to the rack's weight limit (typical max of 25-55 lbs per rack, balance the loads). Not all bikes can take racks, check *before* you buy. Whether you can move the bike when it's a fully loaded behemoth is something else again. A day pack or hiking pack can also give you cargo space. Humans have max weight limits when walking, and packs have max weight limits. Pick the right pack for your level of training and the job you want it to do.

Extracycles and bike trailers can increase a bike's cargo capacity a fair bit over racks, and they permit shapes and volumes that racks don't. If you're not already biking a lot, it's probably not worth the money.

Bike lights (night riding and bad weather riding), fenders (so biking in rain and muck doesn't soak you) and a lock (losing your wheels sucks) are.

(oh the things you learn when you go carless)

#32 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 09:11 AM:

#28: Yes, I've seen photos of people moving house by bicycle. Trailers that loaded do rather negate the "always get off and lift them over obstacles" advantage of getting about when roads are blocked though.
Still useful if you have clear roads but no gas, or if your car was wrecked in the storm. Or if you want to reduce your carbon emissions and the heat pumped into weather systems in the first place (and live somewhere flat - there are limits to what you can move up (or safely down) steep hills by bike).

#33 ::: janine ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 10:01 AM:

The American Red Cross has emergency kits on sale here.

Also, some really cool t-shirts.

#34 ::: via ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Thank you for the reminder. Time to rotate food in the EEK. We have just added a crank radio and crank flashlight to the inventory. We have our gear stowed in waterproof bags with shoulder straps so that we can either throw them in the car, strap them on our bikes or wear them on our backs.

#35 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 11:02 AM:


Whoops, wrong thread.

#36 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 11:37 AM:

You don't have to ride the bike for it to help you carry a heavy load.

Bikes in the Vietnam War (Picture)

It looks like the guy has a couple of add-on handles to steer and push the bike.

#37 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 02:17 PM:

On the subject of bikes and cargo, a stroller/trailer combination works dandy and not only are they cheaper than cargo trailers, but they can also be found used for cheaper yet. And if you live someplace where biking all year 'round is not entirely feasible the stroller mode makes for a dandy take it home with you grocery cart.

#38 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Speaking of bikes: last year, in Peru, I saw a gardener riding an ordinary bike in traffic, presumably going to his next job. I forget the details (maybe there was a milk crate or somesuch with the rest of his equipment), but somehow he had loaded his pushmower on the rear rack. Me, I would never have thought of it.

#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 06:29 PM:

If I can't use my car, I have to shelter in place, and I'm set up for that.

#40 ::: Susan Haskins ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 07:25 PM:

You can purchase Hurricane Supplies online

Also, watch the video's on
It's a must see on weather control!

Take care everyone..

#41 ::: abi spots commercial comment ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2007, 07:38 PM:

Susan Haskins @40 informs us of one of the many things we can purchase online.

#42 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 01:53 AM:

So, guys, do you think it's comment spam and therefore deletable? This is Ms. Haskins' first and only comment here.

#43 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 02:37 AM:

JDM @42,

She is the president of said promoted company. One assumes she might have some knowledge about what people need or want or miss most during a hurricane. But she decided not to share any of that.


She could have given a "I've studied this for my business: here's a list of what I believe people ought to buy" and then waited for someone to ask the name of her business.


#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 05:44 AM:

It's borderline.

The salwar kameez thread allows commercial postings from relevant vendors, because it is also a thread about acquiring specific stuff.

I think she could have phrased things better - introduced herself as the owner of the company, for instance.

I'd vote keep, but it's a very grey matter.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 08:24 AM:

So, I'll go with "keep, but wish she'd join the conversation, both here and in other threads." (I'd feel much better about her if she'd left a sonnet.)

Pending Miss Teresa's decision, of course.

#46 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 08:55 AM:

So, on the second day of the season we have Barry. NOAA's list says that the first name this season is Andrea, which Reuters reported on May 9. (I was reading newspapers during Release Hell but not necessarily holding on to anything in them....) The story says that Andrea wasn't actually a tropical cyclone without explaining why it was given a name from the list; was somebody in NOAA being flaky, or do we need to revise the definition of the season?

#47 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Chip @ 46

My uneducated guess is that they named Andrea, even though it was a subtropical storm, because the sustained winds reached TS threshold (I forget if it's 40 or 45 mph) and they had to issue a TS warning, so they had to call it something.

I remember looking at the satellite photos of it - beautiful trace outlines of a cyclonic storm, only with about 30% of the cloud cover you'd expect from a "real" hurricane/TS.

#48 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 06:17 PM:

According to question A6 in the hurricane FAQ at it has been NOAA policy since 2002 to give subtropical cyclones names from the tropical storm list if they meet the wind speed criteria.

The other point is that it isn't entirely unheard of for there to be tropical storms or even hurricanes out of season. "Hurricane season" is just when such storms are most likely to occur.

#49 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 08:46 PM:

TS Barry was a godsend to much of the Southeast. It provided the rain over the weekend to put out many of the southern Georgia fires, and helped us out of a budding drought up here in SC/NC. Very little severe weather or flooding, just lots of good steady rain and it's already moved on out.

It'd be nice if that's the worst we see this year, but I kind of doubt it. The NCSU hurricane forecasters hit last year's # of storms dead on, and this year they're agreeing with Professor Gray over in Colorado that this year will have more storms than 2006.

#50 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 10:16 PM:

Strategies compared at meeting in Mexico for hurricane preparation and evacuation.

Cuba's emergency plans are well-rehearsed.

What struck the USians most was that pets were part of it.

Been posting about Cuba's abilities to handle evacuation and preparation for hurricanes for a while now. Have experienced this personally in Havana when a Big One came along and we were there.

Go to:

#51 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2007, 11:16 PM:

Barry is still dumping leftover water here in NoVA and we can sure use it. It's supposed to stop before morning commute, not that I'll be up that early.

#52 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 08:48 AM:

this is a better link to the same article. Printer friendly, and doesn't ask you for your zipcode.

#53 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:00 AM:

The Weather Channel is having their annual "Hurricane Week" now, and emphasizing being ready in case you need to evacuate. However, a recent poll indicated over 60% of those asked had made no preparations, and nearly 20% said they wouldn't evacuate no matter what.

Do the math; if those numbers are accurate, a city like Miami would have hundreds of thousands of people not leaving (even after Andrew!) in the face of a Katrina-like storm.

Of course, the reverse happened when Hurricane Floyd approached the East Coast about 10 years ago, and so many people tried to evacuate from the Savannah/Charleston area they ran out of gas and would have been trapped on the interstates when the storm hit. Many of those leaving were not in the endangered area, they just panicked and tried to get out on their own.

#54 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 10:30 AM:

#1: If you are referring to Dr. Bill Gray, he's not "one guy in Colorado who will give the newspapers a prediction anyway" he's a well-respected academic meteorologist:

In past years, Dr. Gray's forecast for total number of tropical storms and named storms, as well as that of the National Hurricane Center (, have been fairly good as long-range weather forecasts go (+/-20% or so, vs. 50%/50% for 3-month general forecasts). The computer tracking models for hurricanes keep on getting better each year as well, to the point where the NHC can predict within about 100 miles where a hurricane will make landfall. Impressive given the amount of data to be processed and the inherent unpredictability of weather patterns.

#11: I'd give no odds that FEMA is better prepared, after all, they've got no place to go up up compared to Katrina. Plus, they've got all those trailers and all that food left over from 2 years ago, although the tons of ice are probably melted by now . . .

Seriously, though, the FEMA web site actually has some useful information, especially disaster maps. Back in the last millenium, when FEMA was run by competent adults, they put all the hazard maps online. You can see how much risk you face from various perils here:

Keep in mind, that the greatest risk your average homeowner faces is the risk of flood, usually the sort of flooding which doesn't make the national news. Moral: Don't build on flood plains and make sure that your sewer and storm drain systems don't connect to a water source which is likely to flood so badly that the drains back up.

The huge thing that scares me, however, is that people have become clueless about what barrier islands and salt marshes are and what they're good for (Hint: NOT FREAKIN' VACATION CONDOS!!). In so many parts of the U.S. people have build houses right at the high tide line on the outer edge of a barrier island usually filling in wetlands to do so. Those barrier islands and marshes should be protecting the mainland from the sea's fury.

In a hurricane, the storm surge will turn those houses, and anything in them, into water-driven battering rams which can block roads, or even knock down causeways and bridges leading to safety. One of the big causes of death during the 1903 Galveston Hurricane/Flood was storm-driven debris taking out the causeway to the mainland.

People on the Northeast coast (i.e., Baltimore to Boston) have forgotten that they can be hit by hurricanes, too. While the shape of the harbors in these locations protects them to some extent (that's why they were chosen as ports, after all), there is still some risk from storm surge.

The parts of the Northeast U.S. which are really at risk for hurricane damage are Long Island and Cape Cod. Both are heavily-developed, relatively low-lying areas, unprotected by (many) barrier islands, with limited access to/from higher ground. Even worse, they are (mostly) south-facing, so its likely that hurricane-generated storm surge will be pushed right into them.

If you're on the East coast within a few miles of the ocean you are at risk from hurricane storm surge unless you are 20 feet or more above sea level. And, if a hurricane storm surge hits, being underground is a very bad place to be - don't try to escape by subway.

#16: Add household bleach to the generic list of useful things to have in an emergency: 1 oz. bleach will kill the bugs in 5 gallons of water, 2 tbsp. in 5 gallons will sanitize any reasonably clean object soaked in it for at least 20 minutes (a good way to sanitize dishes, etc.) It can also be used as germicide and fungicide. Activated charcoal (from pet stores or wherever water filtration supplies are sold) will filter out chlorine/chloramines as well as common toxic metals. Alternately, you can remove chlorine from tap water by letting the water stand for 24 hours.

#21: Almost anyplace in the U.S. - Bits of the nation relatively close to the Great Lakes are at less risk, bits of the country in the central plains more so. Check the FEMA map link given above.

#29: Amen. The most important thing you can have in any crisis situation is knowledge and the ability to use it. Preparedness is just one part of knowledge. Ideally, in an emergency you will be physically fit, capable of performing at least basic first aid, know how to operate basic survival equipment - like fire extinguishers, and have a rudimentary knowledge of how to mitigate hazards in your environment - like turning off the gas and electric feeds to your house.

#30: Military surplus has the virtue of being cheap and (usually) extremely durable. If you're worried about the "political correctness" of khaki, I've discovered that a thin coating of enamel spray paint (or brushed on latex paint) works just fine to "demilitarize" olive drab canvas. Enamel paint also has the virtue of being water repellent. This technique isn't recommended for clothing, though, since the paint interferes with the breathability of the fabric. Instead, I'd imagine that a good fabric dye would be sufficient to make it obvious that you're a civilian. For many years, I've kept a mini survival kit in a converted U.S. Army surplus gas mask bag.

#36: A bicycle can also be easily converted to power a pump, pulley or generator. I've seen a bicycle-based reciprocating saw, as well as bicycle-based water pumps.

#55 ::: Pat Greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:11 PM:

The house I grew up in and in which my mother still lives lies seventeen feet above sea level in South St. Petersburg. Fortunately, there are barrier islands all up and down the Pinellas peninsula which would catch the brunt of any storm surge: very densely developed barrier islands, with only a few bridges off of them -- four, I think, in a twenty mile stretch. Add to that the general difficulty evacuating from the Pinellas peninsula mainland...

The Tampa Bay area has not had a direct hit from a hurricane in a long time. It's going to be a God-awful mess when it finally does.

As far as not evacuating, this has been a bone of contention in my family, with some relatives stating that they would not evacuate because they would be unable to leave their many pets behind.* Me, I take my dad's view: when they say get out, you get the hell out. He didn't live to see Katrina, but had known and loved the Mississippi Gulf Goast before Camille. I remember driving along the Gulf Coast in the mid-seventies, and having him point out all the buildings that weren't there. I remember him being saddened that all the Spanish moss was gone.

*Yes, I know pets are important, but if you have so many that you would not evacuate in the face of danger, you have too many.

#56 ::: Pat Greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Thomas @54, people build in all sort of unsuitable places because they think they have a safety net -- you see people rebuild in slide areas in California all the time.

Maybe the way to cure this is to allow one rebuilding: you can rebuild once, but if it gets wiped out by the next hurricane (or landslide), you're out of luck. Or you could take the money you would have spent on rebuilding and start over somewhere safer.

#57 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 04:42 PM:

The thing about hurricanes see them coming. Miles and DAYS away. Not saying you don't need to be prepared, if nothing else you should have a list ready to be filled, but hurricanes don't just pop out of nowhere and hit. Unlike tornados, which are much scarier, IMO. Tornadoes DO just jump out an bite ya.

People in the area where Katrina hit (and the government agencies that protect them) had almost five days to prepare. Whether they did or not, well... They still had the time.

We haven't had too many hurricanes hit here in NJ in the last few years. Floyd, in '99, was the last one, IIRC, that actually was still a hurricane when it got here. Oh, wait, no, there was one other, my sister fled Va. Beach to get away from it...but maybe it was only a tropical storm by the time it reached us.

Yes we had water in the basement and some snapped branches, but nothing terrible.

Gloria was the last really terrible one I can remember. But my memory isn't what it used to be.

#58 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Christina @ 57 - One of the reasons to prepare in advance is because everyone else will be preparing at the list minute. Better to be able to secure your residence than having to stand in line at Home Depot trying to buy batteries and plywood - if there's even any left.

Even with tornados, you should know where to go to shelter at home, school or work.

Another part of preparation that works is having a plan - where to meet, who to call (someone unlikely to be in the same disaster footprint), that sort of thing.

I also challenge your assertion that people in the path of Katrina had time to prepare - how do you prepare for a failed levee and governmental incompetence? Not everyone has a car. Many who did couldn't afford the gas to fill the tank. Only a few were able to get transportation to evacuate, so most or those who stayed did what they were told to do - go to designated shelters - and they were let down by every branch of government.

#59 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 05:46 PM:

I think there are three rules with this sort of thing:

1) Never, ever, ever depend on anyone else to do your heavy lifting for you; or your family.
2) You can never be too prepared for natural disaster.
3) Some natural disasters are so huge, it's impossible to be prepared enough.

If #2 and #3 seem in contradiction, they are. But it's the truth.

#1 is the item I think of the most whenever the news broadcasts details of a disaster hitting somewhere, because invariably they find some poor soul who will go on at length for the cameras about how "someone else" didn't rush in and save them from tragedy.

Sometimes, it's true. And it's a damn shame.

A lot of the time, though, I think people make their own tragedies. By not thinking ahead. By making poor decisions. By simply being oblivious. And that's nobody's fault but their own.

With some time and effort and a little money, virtually everyone can give themselves a survival "cushion" of some type. Even city dwellers and denizens of the highrise. Parents and caregivers, IMHO, ought to almost be required by law to prepare in such a fashion. Because being deadly stupid on your own time is bad enough. But being deadly stupid with the lives of your children or other charges hanging in the balance....?

Anyway, good luck to the Gulf and the East Coast this season. If I recall, they predicted a lot of bad news for last season, which never came to pass. May it be so again this time around.

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 06:02 PM:

If you have cats, get larger cat carriers, not the cardboard kind. If you're going to be someplace other than home for any length of time, consider large folding cages, such as the ones sold for dogs, which will allow them to move around without getting away from you.

Look into motels that allow pets, if you have to leave in a hurry.

This goes for dogs, too.

#61 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Christina @57,

In regards to the damage and loss of life from Katrina in New Orleans, the government agencies involved had much, much longer than five days: they had been warned for years that the levees were not up to surviving a Cat-3 or greater storm. It was the levee breaks, not the hurricane itself, that caused most of the damage.* There is an argument about whether we should be building a city where such levees are necessary, but that is another discussion.

As far as the people, New Orleans had a large poor population, but it also had a well-functioning (FSVO) public transit system. You could live and work in N.O. and not own a car -- unusual for Sun Belt cities. Unique, maybe: I can't think of any other Southern city where this would be the case. Atlanta, possibly. Most Florida cities would be difficult to live in without a car.

If you rely on public transit, and the bus lines out of town stop running two days before the hurricane hits, you may be stuck. Supposing you even had the money to take the bus out of town anyway, which is not a given.

Arguing that people in New Orleans had five days to prepare feels suspiciously like blaming the victim -- especially when many of the problems were created/compounded by the sheer incompetence of the federal (and state, but mostly federal) response to the disaster. If you are poor, your resources for preparing for a disaster are of necessity going to be somewhat limited.

*That is in New Orleans: the damage further south and east -- the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Plaquemines Parish, e.g. -- sustained their damage (in the case of some communities in Plaquemenines and St. Bernard Parishes, near obliteration) was due to the Katrina itself.

#62 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Don't forget to plan for your pet(s) and/or livestock. To the things listed here and other similar sites (even FEMA), I would add a muzzle that allows the wearer to drink. I'd hate to have to consider staying behind with my Bella, or leaving her behind, because she panicked and tried to bite someone. Keep the vaccinations up to date and keep proof with you. Consider microchipping.

Keep your own tetanus shots up to date, too. You can waste a lot of time looking for somewhere to get one in an emergency.

Just because you're inland doesn't mean you won't be affected by a hurricane or related weather (flooding, tornados). While I was hunkered down at Ft. Rucker (supposedly a 3-hr drive inland from Pensacola, where I lived, but the drive actually took over 10 hrs), hurricane Opal (1995) went the length of Alabama before finally being downgraded to a tropical storm (still up to 74 mph winds) in Tennessee, with winds still in the 50 mph range all the way up to Canada. As I recall, there were about 20 fatalities, only one in Florida, but 14 in Georgia, including 3 in Atlanta.

"Semper Paratus is our guide. Do or die..."

#63 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Christine at #57 said:

The thing about hurricanes see them coming. Miles and DAYS away.

Not really. Days ahead, you get a warning that it may come. But there is generally little specific information days ahead on whether or not it will hit your particular piece of coast.

If one was to take appropriate protective measures whenever the forecast said a hurricane might be, say, five days away, one would board up and evacuate quite a few times during the season, with an actual hit happening perhaps once or twice, perhaps not at all.

It would be prohibitively expensive to react to each warning of a possible hurricane in a week as if it was an actual hit, and it might well lead to other consequences, such as loosing a job due to absenteeism.

More general preparation, not tied to a specific storm, lets the preparation be done at leisure, and prevents repeated, unnecessary stress for all the false alarms and near misses. It also lessens the last minute rush - the need to bring goods into an area where resources should be devoted to getting people out.

And if you have a pet, consider leaving it at picking up a person who doesn't have a car or other ways to leave, instead. The same with other bulky possessions - could you save another human being in the space they take? If each car that left New Orleans with a seatbelt space taken up with goods or animals had taken a person in that spot, how many of those who died could have been successfully evacuated?

Most communities don't have enough train or bus seats to carry the entire population who doesn't have access to cars simultaneously, but that is what is needed for a successful short-notice evacuation. I suspect that any true evacuation plan for an entire city would have to involve not just mass transit, but also use of any extra space in any private vehicle that can be found.

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 01:09 AM:

The thing about hurricanes see them coming. Miles and DAYS away.

And keep seeing them and keep seeing them ... Remember Wilma, in 2005? It ran over Yucatan two or three times, then just sat for a day or two before finally taking off for Florida. It wasn't until a day before it hit that forecasters were even sure it would hit Florida and not Alabama head-on.

I was in Sarasota for the week before Wilma hit, and I left the day after. No one I talked to had any clue up until the last day or so that we would be hit, but by that time the drum-beating of the reporters trying to make a disaster story out of it had turned everyone off. I suspect that if they had called for an evacuation an even higher percentage than usual would have refused because everyone was so sick of hearing about how bad it was going to be that they didn't believe any of it.

#65 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Meanwhile, a big giant (Super) Cyclonic Storm is whipping through the Arabian Sea, which is practically unheard of. The locals are almost certainly unprepared.

#66 ::: Corgi ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 02:48 AM:

[waves to Yog] I noticed this thread didn't really address cooking post-storm. I found a small hibachi and my cast-iron-ware worked wonders for getting the freezer cleared out before things spoiled. With just the small charcoal fire, I could bring water to a full boil, fry chops, etc. I didn't have to worry about burning the cast iron or damaging its finish.

I found I didn't have the best tools for that scale of cooking, though - still haven't found exactly what I want yet. Most camping, BBQ or chuckwagon tools seem to be built for large cooking areas. A Lodge lidlifter is definitely on my list, though.

As far as sleeping comfortably... I didn't. Not after Andrew, not after... was it Katrina or Wilma, or both? After Andrew, I had to sleep directly on the front porch tile to get enough of a heat sink. No padding or pillows, I'd get too warm. Also no breeze, but that's August for you.

Pat @55 - I'd like to rephrase your footnote to explore another point of view: *Yes, I know children are important, but if you have so many that you would not evacuate in the face of danger, you have too many. Hmmm, doesn't quite work anymore....

Tracie @62 - she's a chowgi?? Delightful! I have a corgllie!

#67 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 12:52 PM:

Ursula L, I'm sorry, but speaking as a non-driver, I wouldn't feel safe taking a ride from someone who would leave their pets behind.

Not that I have to make that particular choice- or a reason to primarily fear hurricanes or tornados, living on Puget Sound. I'm always bemused by these lists, since what I am most fearful of is a great quake coming and destroying our wells, leaving us with a couple of hundred cattle, dozens of pigs, and no way to water them. Food, we've got, tools on a grand scale, including heavy equipment which could help others in a bad time, and fuel for the equipment. We also have the social responsibility not to have our animals suddenly become a threat to public health and safety, and there is no fence that will hold against thirsty cattle.

We do get winter windstorms, of course, and the farm has generators for the water pumps, stored human drinking water in the houses, stored food, stoves to cook on, battery powered lights and radios, and chainsaws. The biggest hazard in most PNW storms comes from downed trees and flying tree limbs, although the December 14th storm last year was exceptionally wet, as well, and caused urban flooding and landslides. Usually it's one or the other: strong winds, or heavy rain that lasts for more than 24 hours.

#68 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Corgi, I will have to wait and respond substantively to you later. Quite honestly, I find the "children = pets" formulation to be silly and simplistic at best and downright offensive at worst, and right now I'm leaning towards the latter. It's been a bad morning (in large part because of issues with children), and I should wait to respond to you until I can more calmly discuss why I think your statement is full of shit.

#69 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Ok, Corgi, I went away and thought about it. I'm still not calm, but I'm going to answer you anyway.

First of all, let me point out what you didn't say:

You could have said that my statement was very classist in that the logical endpoint of my position would mean poor people shouldn't have pets, and pets provide demonstrable mental health benefits to their owners. I would have had to agree with that, up to a point. I would have said in that case, it would be a tragedy if people were forced to leave their pets behind -- but in no way a tragedy close to leaving a child behind.

You could have said that people value their pets extremely dearly, to the point of risking their own lives for their pets. I would say I understood that people love their pets dearly. I would also say YMMV, but personally, I would be extremely unhappy if someone I loved lost their life to stay behind with their six cats and a large dog. I would also point out that there is the issue of who else is involved: in the situation in my family which prompted me to make the original remark, the owner of the six cats and a large dog would not only be risking his neck, but that of his 80-year-old mother, who is unable to evacuate herself. As she is also my mother, I take a less than charitable view of this.

Furthermore, as a practical matter, you endangering yourself by staying put after a mandatory evacuation order has come through may not make your animals safer -- it may just mean that the authorities have another badly injured or dead human to pull out of the rubble.

You could have said I was arrogant. Who am I to say how many pets people should have? Perhaps I am arrogant.

You did not say any of those things. You decided for the cutesy "Pets are equivalent to kids" route. Ok, I'll play your chickenshit little game... let's replace "kid" with "pet" in these sentences, shall we?

"My pet was just diagnosed with autism. We're looking into specialists, but the school district has been no help. We can't afford a private school."

"Do you know where your pet plans to apply to college next year?"

"Jesus, my pet's ex-girlfriend died in an auto accident. He's devastated."

"I can't figure out how to help my pet learn to read. He's really struggling."

"I think my pet may be suicidal."

"My pet's teacher wants a conference on Monday."

"I think my pet may be using drugs"/having underage sex/smoking/drinking/anyone of the myriad of things parents are worried about their kids doing.

Hmmm... as you said, it "doesn't work so well."

You think parenting is the equivalent of raising a pet? Go say that in the waiting room of an IVF clinic. I know a good one near me. I'll bring popcorn.

I have known many people who have adopted pets. I have known a few that have adopted children. Guess which one was more difficult?

I have known people who have lost pets. I have known people who have lost children -- including my own parents. Guess which one caused more long-term emotional and psychological impacts?

I don't know about other parents, but I feel an incredible responsibility to raise offspring that care about other people in a larger sense, who have a sense of community and responsibility as citizens of not only their country but the world. It's rather more complicated than teaching them to play well with others.

The complexity of interaction and nurturing required to raise a child dwarfs that required to raise a pet. Yes, as they get older, they take a more active part in their own rearing. It doesn't mean the parent's responsibility is less, simply that it is changed. In many ways, parenting a thirteen year old is as rough as parenting a three year old.

Being a parent is hard work... hard emotional and psychological work. Not everyone is cut out to do it -- including many people who are actually parents, and me, many days. To have it equated to raising dogs and cats makes me want to scream.

And yes, I stand my original assertion: if you have so many pets you feel you can't evacuate -- especially if not evacuating means placing others in harm's way -- then you have too many pets.

#70 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Ursula at #63:

WRT evacuating New Orleans:

Both Greyhound and Trailways had volunteered a goodly portion of their bus fleets to get people outta Dodge before Katrina arrived. I understand Amtrak offered train transport as well.

Neither the Governor of Louisiana nor the Mayor of New Orleans acted on this information, so these modes of escape went unused.

Lots of pet owners were forced to leave their beloved animals behind, as shelters would not accept them...

#71 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2007, 06:55 PM:

corgi @66: Last year, I read up on cooking post-storm. Mostly, I looked through books about camping, hiking, RV-ing, bicycle trekking, and such, but I did find a few books specifically about cooking after a storm, two of which I remember pretty well.

The Storm Gourmet: I saw a book review that made it sound good. It looks good, but I didn't think much of it. Too much emphasis on "gourmet," much sneering at canned foods. I agree with S. Barnes' 1-star review of the book at Amazon.

Apocalypse Chow: this one is practical and struck me as much more realistic. IIRC, the recipes were tested on a butane cooker, the kind caterers use for their steam tables. Their website has sample recipes.

(Note: I'm not connected in any way with any of th writers, publishers, etc.)

#72 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Some of the governments around here are starting to figure out how to shelter pets in emergencies.

#73 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 07:32 AM:

Re my comment at @71: when I said I agreed with the Amazon review, I was referring to the written comments, not with the single star. I would've given it 2, maybe 3.

#74 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 08:40 AM:

#72: I think that makes a lot of sense even for those who only care about human lives in their planning - not wanting to abandon pets is one of those things that will encourage people to try and hang on until they are absolutely sure they have to choice but to evacuate, and some of them will leave it too late.
(I care about my pets, but if it's a choice between risking them or my children, the pets are going to have to take their chances. Living 50 miles from the sea in England, it's unlikely a hurricane is going to force me to make that choice. I am only a few miles from sea level (and a few metres above it), so global warming could change the chances of flooding.)

#75 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 12:08 PM:

I think my point got buried under my own disaster planning details (and not a week goes by that How We Are Going to Water the Cattle doesn't take up at least one middle-of-the-night worry session). All domestic animals are a possible threat to public health and safety after a disaster, and planners who insist upon excluding all animals except humans may be complicating actual recovery.

#76 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 04:45 PM:

A)I watched Katrina, like everyone else, fill up the Gulf of Mexico, for DAYS before it came ashore. There was time to prepare at least something. Even if you didn't know the levee was going to break, a catagory 5 hurricane is nothing to sneeze at, and yet...they did. There was no WAY you were getting out of the way of that thing, and not one agency warned people. What kind of crap IS that?

B) I specified the people that were supposed to protect the citizens. I realize not everyone could get away themselves, but the government agencies also stood by and did nothing. It was OBVIOUS it was going to be a huge storm, just from the satellite photos, and they did nothing to prepare.

C)I wasn't saying you should prepare last minute, but I wouldn't keep around a kit all the time either. If the weatherman said, 'oh, hey, see this storm way down here in Fla? There's a good chance it'll come our way.' I'd go and get ready. As opposed to tornadoes, where if I lived somewhere we had them, I'd probably be more prepared on a constant basis.

That's all, sorry for the confusion.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Christine @ 76

Whether you need to have an emergency kit around all the time probably depends most on the nature of emergencies in your area ... but keep the basic kit around all the time, anyway. You never know what's going to happen.

(I'm looking at replenishing my earthquake kit over the next few months. There's a place that has emergency food packs for cats and dogs, besides their supplies for people.)

#78 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Christine at 76 -
C)I wasn't saying you should prepare last minute, but I wouldn't keep around a kit all the time either. If the weatherman said, 'oh, hey, see this storm way down here in Fla? There's a good chance it'll come our way.' I'd go and get ready. As opposed to tornadoes, where if I lived somewhere we had them, I'd probably be more prepared on a constant basis.

Go bags aren't just for hurricanes, or tornadoes, or earthquakes - they're for any time you need to leave NOW and don't have time to gather tools beyond "throw on jacket, remote-pop the car trunk, backpack and papers from safe in front storeroom, ammo cans from closet, gun case from back closet*, laptop and hard drives from office, RUN"** - that could be forest fire, chlorine or other HAZMAT spill (I'm not far enough from rail traffic that this isn't a hazard - and neither are most folks), nuclear accident, or something as simple as finding out that an ex- has gone round the bend, knows where you live, and you'd be better off pretending to be a hobo while a police officer pretends to be you.

*The case because the firearms therein are family heirlooms, not particularly for their defensive capacity.

**This is, in fact, the evac policy for my apartment - it can be done in two trips if hurried, three if more leisurely, and if possible, there's several other things that can be added - but one ammo can has food for a week or so in it, the other has water bottles and spare purification gear, and the backpack is kitted for the Adirondaks. With the papers from the safe, the money in the backpack, laptop, and HDs from the server (externals), I can set up shop anywhere, if I have to, and the supplies mean I can go long enough to get to a place where I can.

#79 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2007, 09:08 PM:

The discussion of go bags has finally stirred up old childhood memories about the one time when my family actually had such things prepared and ready. We lived in an earthquake-prone region, and so we had jugs of potable water in every room of the house just in case you were trapped inside because of a quake. (I was never quite sure how much a plastic jug of water was supposed to help if the roof had fallen on your legs, but that's what we had.) But the go bags weren't for earthquakes: they were for if there was some sort of coup and the government decided to throw all the missionaries out of the country, or kill them outright.

It never even came close to happening, but it had happened to enough of my family's coworkers in other countries that we had the whole procedure down, and ready-packed bags with passports, spare cash, and a few changes of clothing in case we had to make a mad dash for a border or airport. To this day, natural disasters don't worry me all that much: the worst they can do is kill me. But the prospect of government instability is enough to give me nightmares. It seems unlikely, sitting around in a northwestern city of the United States, that my neighbors should one night burst through the door and decide to kill my family, because there's been a military coup and we're now the wrong sort of people to have around. But...nightmares, when the government starts looking shaky.

In any case, I suspect that if I ever had to flee my home on account of an emergency, the first thing I'd grab would be my passport. It might not help me through a flood or fire, but that's what all my instincts tell me is the most important thing I could possibly have on me if disaster hits.

#80 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Christine, you can see hurricanes coming, but they are in fact a lot more unpredictable than one might think. A hurricane sitting in the Gulf near Florida may appear headed for New Orleans, and may veer at the last minute and hit anywhere from the Florida panhandle to the Texas coast. And hurricanes can gain and lose intensity quickly too.

True story: in 2004, Florida was hit by 4 hurricanes -- the first time that has happened since 1886. One of those hurricanes, a Cat-4 named Charley, was all set to slam into Tampa Bay, with the projected track up the bay into northern central Florida. My mom lives in St. Pete, so I was following this storm extremely closely. Mandatory evacuation orders went out. People evacuated -- most of them inland.

At the last minute Charley swerved, came ashore at Naples, well south of Tampa, and moved into the center of the state -- hitting a lot of people who had evacuated. Which just goes to show that even with hurricanes you never can tell.

One problem is that if you wait until a hurricane is looming you have to deal with all the other people who waited until the hurricane is looming to get supplies. Things run short. Better just to stock up at the beginning of the season and keep them around. I'm thinking of recommending to my mom that she keep around a set of plywood in the garage for the windows.

Of course, if you have trouble getting enough food to put on the table as it is, setting aside food for the aftermath of a hurricane is going to be a non-starter. Which is what government should be ready to help with.

Speaking of no notice.... At least with tornadoes you have some idea that there is bad weather. Earthquakes happen with no warning, and can happen under a clear blue sky. Loma Prieta in '89 was the scariest damn thing I've ever experienced in my life that didn't involve motor vehicles.

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 03:50 AM:

#79: (I was never quite sure how much a plastic jug of water was supposed to help if the roof had fallen on your legs, but that's what we had.)

That all depends on how long you'd be trapped under the fallen roof. Sure, your legs might be crushed, but what would kill you would be kidney failure brought on by dehydration while waiting for rescue. You could be alive when they hauled you out, but without a transplant you'd wind up dead anyway within a couple of weeks to a month.

#82 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 11:31 AM:

#81: Assuming of course that you could reach the water from where you were trapped under the rubble.

#83 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2007, 12:23 PM:

#81: Ah, that at least explains the reasoning behind it. My father was a pilot, and so very big on checklists, contingency plans, and preparing for Nigh-Inevitable Disaster. But I found the jugs of water rather puzzling.

#84 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2007, 08:23 AM:

What do you suggest I do about my pets in the event of a tornado warning? I have three cats, a dog and two rats. The dog and the rats aren't a problem, the dog will follow us downstairs, and the rats are easily transfered to a smaller portable cage. The cats are hard to round up in a short time, last time we had a warning I only found one of them. Is there a way I can prepare so that it's easier to get all my pets downstairs?

#85 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Mary #84:

I'm almost totally stumped; cats, to my certain knowledge, don't take direction. The next to last time I headed for the downstairs bathroom for a weather incident[*], I passed the cat on the stairs--she was going up to hide under the bed.

All I can suggest is training with treats--rattling kibbles or some such. It *might* work.

[*] Big old hailstorm--we had just enough warning to get the car in the garage, and roofs were being repaired for five months after for miles around.

#86 ::: Code ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2007, 05:35 PM:

#84 Mary,

Make some sort of signal or calling for the cats to come you but you should prepare treats because thats what they are expecting of you. Everyday, I call my cats with one word and soon they get used to that word. They always expect some food on my hand when I call them.

#87 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 01:34 PM:

Mary @ 84:

Do they have favored hiding places? With our cat Cosmo, we knew that when the smoke alarm went off, Cosmo would be hiding under the head of the bed. It made it easy to find him, although not so easy to haul him out.

#88 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2007, 03:57 PM:

Mary @ 84:

As Code @ 86 said. However, if you need to put them in travelling cages (e.g. so you can keep them where you want them while you get everyone else in the shelter area) and they don't like being put into their travelling cages, you may need to take this a step further:
First train to come for the treat (and always get the treat).
Then train to come for the treat, get a treat, then be placed in the cage and get another treat.
Then train to come for the treat, get a treat, be placed in the cage and get another treat, have the door/lid shut, get another treat through the door/wire, have it opened, get another treat...

If you feed your cats set meals, consider feeding them in the travelling cages as well (wouldn't work for ours because they have ad lib hard food).

And don't rush the training. There is some amazing stuff being done with training zoo animals - e.g. to allow injections and blood sampling without restraint, and to get animals to go into travelling crates (which is pretty similar to this situation really). The main points include building up step by step to where you want to get, always end on a good note, etc.

Try looking at a book about positive-reinforcement training/clicker training dogs, that might give you some more tips

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