When we first started spending our winters in Florida, even before we bought our house, people kept telling us about how bad this region was for hurricanes and asking us if we weren’t afraid of getting caught in one.
No, not at all. In our 17+ years of fulltime RVing we dealt with tornadoes, wildfires, unexpected snowstorms, and even an earthquake. At least a hurricane has the courtesy to tell you it’s coming well in advance so you can get out of its way. And besides, hurricane season usually begins about July and goes through early November. When we were fulltiming we weren’t usually in Florida during that time. And now that we own a house here, we will probably be on the road somewhere much of that time.
However, we were here in October when Hurricane Matthew came up the coast and did a lot of damage in some areas. Here are a few lessons we learned from that incident, but they apply just as much anytime you are on the road traveling in an RV.
Don’t wait too long – We were staying at a campground in the Daytona Beach area, and as soon as it looked like the hurricane was heading our way we left the coast and drove inland to the Tallahassee area until the storm had passed. One fellow at the campground told me he was going to stay put because he had already paid for his reservation and he was darned sure going to get his money’s worth. There is no way I’m going to put our lives or our motorhome in danger for the sake of a few bucks. If you have to leave, get out while the getting’s good. We made a quick trip across the state and had no problem finding a campground, while folks who waited longer found themselves stuck in long traffic jams, and when they finally did get clear of this area, many of them ended up spending days dry camping in parking lots because all the campgrounds motels, and hotels were full.
Always have full fuel and water tanks – Some people who waited too long to leave found that fuel was hard to come by in some areas during the mass exodus. Whenever we are going to be parked anywhere for more than a night or two, I always fill our Winnebago’s fuel tank before we go into a campground and I keep our water tank full. Remember those folks who spent all that time dry camping after they fled the hurricane? A lot of them did so with no water on board. That’s too much like roughing it for me.
Have cash available – We always try to keep at least $500 in cash on hand. In many areas power was out for several days. When that happens it doesn’t matter how many credit and debit cards you have in your wallet, plastic does not work.
Have a weather radio – Tallahassee isn’t that far from Daytona Beach but it seemed like the local news stations there didn’t much care about what was happening on the coast. They talked more about the weather in Pensacola and Mobile, Alabama than they did Daytona Beach. We learned more about what was going on from the Internet and a weather radio.
Let people know where you are – My son and daughter and Terry’s parents were obviously very worried about us. We let them know when we were leaving, we told them where we were headed, and we let them know when we arrived. When you’re on the other side of the country and your loved ones are in the path of some kind of natural disaster, it can be just as frightening for those waiting for that phone call to let them know that everything is okay.
Don’t return too soon – We waited two or three days after the hurricane had passed and the all clear was announced. We knew there was going to be a lot of cleanup to be done, a lot of power outages to deal with, and a lot of traffic headed back to the coast. And we wanted to be sure that when we did get back, we would be able to buy fuel to refill our tank, just in case we had to make a second fast getaway. Sometimes lightning does strike twice in the same place.
Keep a positive attitude – Yes, we would have rather been in our nice campground in Daytona Beach instead of parked in what was basically a grassy field with hookups, but what the heck, we were safe and dry, and we met some nice folks who were doing the same thing we were – waiting out the storm. Life’s an adventure, and when it’s all over you’ve got a great story to tell!
Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Point Taken, the tenth book in my friend Ben Rehder’s excellent Blanco County mystery series. I’ve read just about all of Ben’s books, and I don’t think he could write a bad story if he tried. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – Only a true friend sees invisible tears.