SO, It's Hurricane season, AGAIN!

Here we are again, at the point of the year everyone is dreading. Hurricane Season. Capital H, Capital S... I think i can speak for many of us who are just OVER IT... And i seriously am considering moving. Ernesto is behind us. ironic it was Canceled. But Florence is right behind him. And if she is anything like Francis, be afraid... I wonder about the houses. Sure we go thru these little ones. But little by little doesn't the wind create a wear and tear on the homes? doesn't it put stress every time a hurricane passes thru? and then just your luck a small Cat 2 comes thru and your house just blows away... I drive thru the neighborhood and see many still with shutters up. its been 10 days since ernesto. And why do we all still have them up? The only word i can think of is exhaustion. At times even PTSD. I bet there are so many people like me dreading all the prep and the waiting and the lines... The will we lose power or won't we? will the generator work? Will it be like last years? Or worse?

I am dreading every little moment of this posting. I am not dreading writing about it. But the sheer fact that we are now in the height of hurricane season again. People mention oh its almost half over only 2 months left. Buts its in these two months that we normally get hit. The winter winds blowing and the hot waters of the gulf and well the mixture is just turbulence. And isn't it funny, the word, "normally". Well, normally we havn't had a hurricane since i moved here. 1975 till andrew and then not another till 2004. So normally, those of us that have lived here most of our lives really haven't experienced a hurricane. I lived thru Andrew. My apartment didn't. I moved out and went to the Gables. I used to drive by the National Hurricane center building in Miami, NOAA, on my way to work in the mornings. Never once gave it the respect it deserved. Never once thought about the giant bubble on the top of the building. Would never have recognized Max Mayfield at the grocery store..

This post is for all the people that have never had to go thru a hurricane. Those who have no idea the stress it creates. Yeah, sure i have hurricane shutters. But there is just so much more to it than that. Not to mention i am a bit different than the average Floridian. I have over 22 animals that need to be safely sheltered from the storm. Its not an easy task. I feel like that show on Animal Planet, "The little zoo that could". Its all about them and how they were hit by two hurricanes in a 2 year period. Great show. I hope to see more of it. I have gotten ideas from them. Watching what they do. How they do it. And how they are coping. Unlike them, I haven't much of a support system. Its me and the animals.

Lately, i get really frustrated with those that make light of it. Its not just putting up shutters and getting some water. There are safety issues that you need to worry about, injuries, feeding, water, shelter, emergency plans. Last year i lost my goat shelter. They ended up living in the patio till the barn was built. not fun.

There is just so much to worry about i find myself stagnating in confusion. Unlike some, they just bring in the valuables, leave the rest to the wind. Not very responsible in my mind. Especially since i have horse that needs to fend by itself in my front and back yards. Its' about an acre when you take away the shed and paddocks. I close that part up so she can't get trapped in there if a tree fell. I can't just leave stuff out in the yard for it to become a missile later. I can't just tie it all up because i have a horse that needs to be able to run at will from front to back and whereever she decides is the safe spot. Unlike many people going thru a hurricane, i have 22 mouths to feed, water, and keep safe as best i can. Then add the house, shed, barn, vehicle, and accessories, then add the bills to pay, computers to move, back up, important documents to seal up. Sometimes it really feels like its never ending. Maybe i'm the one with PTSD.

So here is a run down of what i do to prepare.... Since ernesto just passed i can use that time as a good example of how its a race against the clock. and the clock changes alot, too. Normally i would need a week to do all the things done in 2 days. And granted some of the stuff will stay put away or water bottles will stay filled till end of season, but some things have to come out. i've been worrying about this just yesterday. One of the stalls is still filled with crap. And we had a lightening storm. Because the stall was filled, Brandy couldn't take shelter from the lightening. Now i need to move it all out. because it is just stuff.

Saturday morning aug 26... the first inclining we might have a hurricane coming. We watched the news (Kelly and me. Kelly is my brothers girlfriend). There was nothing much on the news and did nothing really that day. Bad choice. We should have checked the NOAA.org site. Oh well. live and learn.

Sunday morning It made a huge turnabout and was now a hurricane heading for the mountains of Cuba. The news said nothing much again, but that its now a hurricane, just keep an eye on it. Yeah right, because i am alone, i figured to take the time with Kelly helping and start doing stuff. hmmm. So. Off to the gas station we went.

First we emptied all the gas I already had into the lawn mower, and into the generator. That was 5 gallons each. Then took the 6 remaining jugs (aprox 5-6gal each) and went to fill them up. Filled up the car and the jugs, 35 gallons in the jugs and 24 in the car, this cost $148, not budgeted. Hrmpf... So in my house now, 45 gallons of gas. Ready to use. Next year we'll get more gas cans....There is Nothing like sitting in the dark in the dead of night and not able to see a foot in front of you. From now on. I will have plenty of gas on hand.

Next stop is the grocery store to pick up items that over the summer were used. 20 gallons of distilled water. Some cans of food, fruits and veggies. Canned fruits and veggies for the birds. Just in case. Then bought 5 gallons of bleach. 3 cartons of cigarettes and 3 jugs of wine (gotta have that). Bought more soda, canned milk, coffee, and food products, plus a few cans of food for me. Ok that is now done. That non budgeted stop cost another $300, UGH. We go home and put it all away. Getting the pantry ready and all the cans situated for use.. if needed. Its around 2:30 after these two excursions. An interesting note at the gas station. Remember most people are just standing by waiting for it to become headed towards us. Or are out having fun, didn't hear about it, or just don't care. At the gas station we noticed that we were the only females getting gas. Many men were out getting jugs filled up, cars, boats, atv's. I have to assume they were filling up anything they could get their hands on. And if you looked around everyone at that gas station was preparing early. A small group of paranoids. Like me. the onslaught for the gas usually starts the day they make a hurricane watch into a hurricane warning. And then the lines begin, the fighting, the tempers, the newscasters with stupid stories on where the gas is. Isn't there anything else to report?

Now onto the feed store for the farm critters. Learned from last year, always buy right before the hurricane because getting an order after is going to be a nightmare. No gas. No trucks. No food. No feeding the animals. So, I am not so much afraid that it will all disappear in the hurricane, because my shed is still standing after 4 of them. but afraid i won't be able to feed after the storm. 10 bales of hay (already have 10 in the shed), 2 bags of beneful, 2 bags of alflafa pellets, 2 bags of black oil sunflower seeds, 2 beet pulp, 2 potbelly pig food, and some corn scratch for the chickens. Plus xtra bags of shavings, in case we flood it cuts down on the muddy mess that happens in certain areas, and that was it. It was all delivered monday morning... This little ditty cost me $333.... of budgeted money, but not at that time...Better be safe than sorry. Of course this is all contigent on the fact that the shed stays up. or high and dry....

Next stop, I ran to the hardware store, bought some rope. more tie downs. More Sevin dust (for ants, these little buggers all come to the house, highest part of the property. so when it floods i get bombarded). Got the grill gas cannisters replaced with new ones, 3 of those. and this little excursion only cost $70... but still this all adds up. Hurricanes are expensive.

I keep mentioning the costs because, no one really budgets these emergencies all at once. But i bet 90% of the population was doing what i was doing. Over the course of the year you use up and deplete your supplies. I never knew water went bad, and wasted 20 gallons of that one year. Or gas should be used up in 3 months. OR you put that STABILE gas saver in it. which was another purchase at the hardware store. I still haven't had to buy batteries. A few years back i drove to Outdoor world and bought $300 worth of D, C AA, AAA batteries and luckily they are all still being used. I have lights and lanterns for all the rooms. flashlights for my head, like a miner. And solar lights to use after we lose power. If...we have sun the next day...

So now all the store stuff is done. And i'm exhausted. SPent upwards of $800 and we still aren't sure its coming.

Its now Monday morning. Hurricane is supposed to arrive Wednesday night. But they waffle with that time, might be during the day> could be sooner. My brother is on his way up tonight to help with the shutters. That will be a huge load off my back. Literally. After putting up the shutters alone, the back usually goes out. So for me that is the absolute last thing to do. Brother helping is going to be soo cool. Its a first.

So onto the garage and getting it ready for a mini stall for the goats and mini horse, chickens and pig. i put down shavings and set up plywood so that they don't get near the electrical outlets. Ok that done. Its about monday afternoon... I start getting the lawn accessories put up. Deciding to put everthing in one stall. So little by little i fill up the stall with all the junk around the yard. I call it junk now, but it was a treasure or a have to have thing in NON hurricane season. But today, to me, its junk. And what a pain to get it all in. I get the mower and the tow cart and start riding around the yard picking stuff up. Great. This takes me to sundown. Where is my brother, i wonder? At 8pm he shows up. Great!

But not before my neighbor comes over to check on my generator. He's been doing this all day. He goes from friend to friends house starting the generators and fixing them, and making sure they work. good for him. He had just come home and saw i was doing my prep and came out to check on mine. Thank you Robert... I only see him 3 times a year. Great neighbor...grin.

So now my brother shows up. We have to put the shutters up in the dark. I start to pull out the shutters from the shed. Nightmare. Too heavy and too many. and put them around the house, in three different stages. The cart can only handle a few at a time. As i put them down, my brother puts them up. The mosquitos are killing us and nothing is working to stop them. Can't find my DEET and my lavender / citronella spray seems to make them bite harder. ugh...Around 9:30 pm we finally get all the shutters up. If i had to do it alone, it would have taken 6 hours. Alone its a pain in the butt. And i have to stop and rest or i would truly pull my back out. So one full day of work done. And brothers help is appreciated. But not normal...

I think about all the people that are still at work. That can't leave. But now the hurricane is apparently coming and they have to do what i just finished? And i'm not done yet... not by a long shot. They really should shut down businesses early because the stress of sitting in your office when you know a hurricane is coming and you can't leave to do what is necessary to prepare is the worst nightmare of it all. I remember those days. it was awful...

Back to the task at hand. The house is now a receptacle for chairs and large items. The garage is starting to take shape like a barn stall, the stall is looking like a junkyard, hmmm what next... Oh i get emergency food to put into the garage. There have been storms that last 23 hours. In that case the animals still need to eat. and drink. So i get them enough food for the evening and morning and one more evening just in case... and of course a muck station because with all the food and drink, well....

OK you're thinking You're done now right? NOPE.... not by a long shot. Throughout this whole Monday, and now into Tuesday i am making ice. YEP. ICE... i make the ice, put in a baggy, place in a cooler. Get out all the blue ice things that are used for coolers and freeze them too. Since the ice making takes time that needs to start Sunday evening or monday morning. It will give me enough for a few days, and keep the food cold in case the generator doesn't go on... I have at least $300 of vaccines and meds for the animals in the fridge, that is one thing you don't want to get warm. Seriously, the food is not important. So, by Wednesday morning the cooler should be full. I don't like buying the ice since the ice from my maker is big cubes, the ice from the store is chips. They melt faster...grin... There is a method to my madness. We've tested this. The ice in from the freezer lasted 3 days longer than the ice from the store...

Back outside... Still putting up all the junk around the yard. Some items can't be put up yet since i will need to feed and water and groom the critters with. The shed is cleaned up and items are moved around to handle the lawn mover that will need to in there during the storm. There are items around the shed, and wood, and a craftmaid mini shed, all this needs to be tied down, taken apart and moved into the shed. Great...

Its now Tuesday afternoon. And finally get the shed in order, the garage done, ALL the elements into the house, the garage, the shed, or the stall.

Still not done yet...

It's time to go back inside and start filling up water jugs. Oh but not until i put in 160 lbs of new salt into the brine tank, (during a hurricane i figure that amount will hold it tight), and then i rig the water tank to not move, and also add more water to the aeration tank. It normally should only be half full, but if you turn off the aeration then you can fill it up almost to the top. By turning off the aeration the water stinks like rotten eggs. YUM!!!. You just have to live with stinky water for a day or so if the power doesn't go out. If it does go out then i have all that extra water for the animals. Learned that the last hurricane, too. As i was groveling for water in the neighborhood, and then realized that aeration tank holds at least 1000 gallons... what a wanker i felt like after that. I also have a 55 gallon drum my neighbors gave me. That needs to be cleaned and filled. Add some bleach and its good to go.

All the tubs have to be filled, buckets, etc. I put garbage cans in the shower and fill them up with water. NO not for drinking. But flushing, washing, cleaning its fine. Just add MORE bleach.

Bleach is my friend....

It pretty late, its Tuesday evening. and the hurricane is supposedly early, and on its way. Its getting windy and dark and i still have to feed the animals in their pens. And then bring them up to the house. I need to paint my horses body with paint sticks that don't come off, they are oil based, with my phone numbers and addresses. I put plastic baggies filled with names, numbers, addresses of a few people, the vet, etc and wrap that all up in another baggy, inside another baggy. And then punch a hole in it and tie 4 of these to her mane and tails. She also has hoof booties on her, with my address and number on it, too. In case she gets out, gets hurt, gets disoriented, WHO KNOWS! But she is the one that has to stand out in the rain and sleet and wind for 24 hours. She is on her own. I can't even look out the window to check on her in the hurricane. Only last year during the eye of the storm could i chance opening the door. and even then it was only for 20 minutes. Very scary...

I get all that done for brandy. The animals are all fed. The pig is in the closet. Luckily its dark now so the chickens came into the garage on their own, or else, lucky me would be running around the yard trying to catch them. Its now time to get the goats, and mini and bring them into the garage. UGH. Ok its not that bad, with some sunflower seeds they'll go anywhere.

I'M POOPED... It's 9:30pm on tuesday. I just spent 14 hours a day for 3 days getting everyone ready. Buying, moving, throwing away, preparing, tieing up, and rushing around like a chicken with her head cut off... and you know what? I get on the NOAA site to find out this particular hurricane, isn't coming. It died somewhere over the straits of Florida. The everglades got a bit of it then it just petered out. Happy. YES very. Aggravated YES VERY.... Glad its over? well its not really over.

For everything that is put up, moved, filled and stored, still now have to do everything did in reverse... take it all out. undo the shutters, etc and so forth.... But i've decided not to take all the shutters down. And the one stall a week later is still filled with the junk. I'm just too pooped to even think about putting everything else back. Because just this morning there is that hint of another hurricane in the Atlantic. Great!

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