When I was first approached about moving to Texas, I was given two choices. One was to locate in Arlington (between Dallas and Fort Worth) and the other to locate in Houston. The criteria I used was whether I wanted to die in a tornado with no warning (Arlington) or die in a hurricane with lots of warning (Houston). I chose Arlington thinking that no warning was a better way to go. After a couple of years I realized that most of my work centered in Houston so I moved to a burb just north of there (Kingwood).
I now know that my original criteria were slightly out of whack. My criteria should have been, did I want to be in small, self-contained, short, violent weather disasters or large, ragged, long, violent weather. After being subjected to both, neither is preferable as both include power outages in their aftermath. My tornado experience included three days without power while hurricanes have meant four (Rita) to ten (Ike) days without power. In the Texas heat, even one hour without power can seem like hell.
Next time, and there will be a next time, I hope to remember the following lessons I have learned from the most recent outage.
DO ALL THE LAUNDRY BEFORE THE POWER GOES OUT. When I came back from my Dad's funeral I came with a suitcase full of laundry and there were dirty clothes at home from before I left. Friends who knew this lesson did not end up wearing small, grey, elastic-less panties.
FILL THE ICE CHEST WITH ICE BEFORE THE STORM BEGINS. Finding ice to keep the milk and other perishables fresh after Ike visited was a small nightmare. Also, if someone offers you ice, (a friend, FEMA or a neighbor), take it but don't be greedy. You never have enough but too much is useless.
BUY, AND HAVE CHARGED, A SOLAR GENERATOR BEFORE THE STORM. The large, noisy gas generators used my most of my neighbors drove me crazy but after a few days without a light or fan at night I was contemplating buying one at the inflated prices from the wierd guys on the side of the road. I have seen solar powered ones sold for very reasonable prices previously and should have purchased one then. Basically its a solar panel attached to battery with a power inverter. They last about half a day before needing to be recharged so may not be good for running a freezer but that's fine by me.
AFTER TWO DAYS WITHOUT POWER, YOUR REFRIDGERATED FOOD SHOULD BE TOSSED OR COOKED IMMEADIATELY. 'Nough said. Also, ground coffee beans are a great freshener for an enclosed space.
BUY ALL SIZES OF BATTERIES. Not just the big D cells for the big flashlight but also the little AAs and AAAs needed for the little flashlight and radio. I was surprised at how fast these little ones ran out while the big flashlight just kept going and going and going.
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS. Mine were terrific in helping me get the yard cleaned up BUT just around the corner there was a house where no clean-up occured until the owners returned a couple of days ago. They had two medium-sized large trees down in their yard and all anyone had done was push them off the road onto the yard. It appeared to me that no-one around them cared about them. Another reason to know your neighbors is to make sure they are not in trouble. I hadn't seen a fellow dog walker for a couple of days and was getting worried. I learned from one of my neighbors that she had evacuated.. but what if she hadn't?
HAVE A STASH OF UNREAD PAPERBACK BOOKS. I had three and went through them in two days. Next yard sale I go to I will pick up an even dozen as eBook Readers need to be recharged after a couple of days of use.
LIBRARIES ARE OUR FRIENDS. My local Library offered free Wi-Fi service and let everyone recharge their phones and other electronic gadgets. The staff was terrific with helping newbies. I must admit that my favorite librarian and I had a chuckle over the number of people who couldn't even find the bathroom because they had never been in the Library before. Support their fundraisers as often as you can so they will be there for you when needed.
BUY BUG SPRAY AND USE IT. Next to water and ice, bug spray was the rarest of commodities Nasty, biting bugs love the aftermath of a storm like Ike as conditions are perfect for their little mating rituals with lots of offspring.
I am sure I learned other things but I can't remember them right now. I wonder if I will remember any of this when the next storm approaches? One can only hope.