At this writing none of us know what the landfall will be of the latest Hurricane churning the Atlantic known as Irma. For those of you contemplating evacuation in advance of a mandatory “go” let’s consider the key things we advise our clients when doing their personal planning.
Using D.E.P.A.R.T as your memorable acronym consider:
DESTINATION: Where will you go and how long under normal driving conditions will it take for you to get there? Are they accommodations pet friendly? Determine well in advance where you will go (hotel, friends or relative’s house, or RV Park, if you are driving or have a camper or RV) and when you will leave to get there. Make your reservations as soon as the hurricane track shows possible tracking through your home area and make them at least one hour (60-miles or so) inland from the possible landfall. Too often hotels in the landfall cone will close their doors and may leave you stranded. Don’t run this risk. Don’t wait until the last minute to leave and get caught up in the mass evacuation. Simply, pack and leave well in advance and carefully drive to your accommodations.
EQUIPMENT: Our friend Ann Knipe always kept a box of her valuables packed and ready to go into the trunk of her car. These included her valuable photos and documents (copies of the home owner’s and automobile insurance, leases, deeds, titles to the vehicles, birth certificates, passports, copies of your credit cards, utility bills and the telephone numbers of those companies, a key contact list to include your insurance agent, your doctor, lawyer, etc. etc. and most important copies of your driver’s license). The originals of many of these documents should be in the safety deposit box at your bank. Put all these valuables in a plastic water proof zip lock bag. Also, in another box pack those items you will need to use when cleaning up and making repairs to your home on your return. This can include paper and cloth towels, hand sanitizers, handy wipes, cleaning supplies, etc. Take the time to think through what you must have to return to your home and get back to a resemblance of normality.
PEOPLE AND PETS: Who will be going with you? Do they need extra assistance or time to prepare to go with you? Are there people you need to check on before departing? Do you have carriers and leashes for your pets? Do you have plenty of extra water and pet food, protein snacks, medicines, bowls and cups?
ATLAS: A good old fashioned Atlas of maps is essential. We have come to depend on our telephone GPS however during an evacuation cell lines may be down or overwhelmed and there are simply areas where you will not have service. Consider all the alternatives on how to get to your destination in advance and using your Atlas write out the routes in order. You may even choose to highlight the route in your Atlas. Plan your route according to your medical and dietary needs. Remember you are planning to leave in ample time to use any of these routes however when the evacuation is sudden the main route will be congested. Use your alternative.
RETURN READINESS: To get back into the area you will need your ID to prove you are a resident. This can be done with a driver’s license with your permanent address or a utility or credit card bill in your name with the permanent address on it. Before returning load up with groceries and cleaning supplies that will complement what you have already packed such as mops and brooms, etc. When returning gas up often returning with a tank of gas. Local supplies and services will be limited.
TRANSPORTATION: Have all systems on your car, truck or RV checked immediately. Get any repairs or maintenance done on your primary vehicle. Keep your gas tank full. When you decide to leave, with these preparations you will be ready.
Prepare now and evacuate orderly or preferably in advance of the mandatory “go” and stay safe and aware out there.