Ready Or Not, here they come...
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
This is a picture that circulated Facebook before hurricane Harvey demonstrating the unpredictability of the forecasted path.
This year will mark the fourth anniversary since hurricane Harvey took aim at the Texas coast with Victoria in his crosshairs. Many families and businesses in the area lost everything thanks to Harvey, and everyone felt the devastation. Harvey intensified from a Tropical Depression to a Cat 4 hurricane in less than 72 hours. A poignant reminder that inclement weather can become severe quickly, leaving the unprepared in dire straits. This year as I plan for hurricane season while reminiscing about hurricane Harvey, a few things come to mind that might be helpful to new and seasoned RVers. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to comment your experiences and suggestions as well.
1. Having an evacuation plan ahead of time saves the stress of last minute strategizing.
This is probably the most important point. Not only do you need to plan an evacuation route, you need to think through if, when, and to where you will evacuate if the time comes. Will you leave your RV and find a hotel nearby? Will you evacuate with your RV? If you decide you will take your rig, it goes without saying to always have a tow vehicle and proper hitch ready. If you plan to wait, hoping for the best, be prepared to abandon your RV and find another shelter of some sort if the worst quickly comes your way. If staying in an RV park, check with your park about their hurricane preparedness plans and policies. Before Harvey, we made sure every RVer had been notified that a storm was coming, every item outside of RVs had been secured, all slides were in, and any guests that needed assistance evacuating had been cared for.
2. Keep Medical Supplies on Hand.
Make sure that you have ample medications and medical supplies for yourself and your family on hand as well as a water tight way to store it. For my family, ahead of hurricane season, I order as much medication and supplies that my insurance and budget will allow. My husband is insulin dependent on an insulin pump and his pump supplies come by mail. Running out of supplies after a hurricane would not be a good situation. When a storm is headed our way, I want to focus on other important preparations instead of rushing to the pharmacy or stressing about pump supplies.
3. Know how you will evacuate your pets.
Make sure to have a plan for your pets and supplies to evacuate them as well. Make sure to have a crate, extra pet food, and water and water container. You may want to have a backup plan to board them in case you are unable to evacuate with them. There have been situations in previous hurricanes where vehicles got stuck in congested evacuation traffic for hours on end in the heat. A situation that would be tough for humans, and could be unbearable for our furry friends.
4. Check your insurance policy before the start of the season and make sure you’ll be covered in the event of damage.
Make sure to keep your insurance documents in a waterproof bag or tote that is easily transportable. Most insurance companies have a copy of your policy accessible online, but after a major storm event you may not have access to power or the internet for a time. You will want to submit a claim as early after as possible to get to the front of the line, so having your documents available is an important part of planning.
5. Pack a go bag
Include in your bag a couple of weeks' worth of clothes and toiletries. If you evacuate without your RV, you may not be able to get back to it for a time afterward due to flooding or damage. Make sure you take what you will need for a time and anything that you can’t live without. You never know what you will be coming back to.
Our family evacuated about an hour inland before Harvey but came back to the park as quickly after as possible. We had to go back roads to get through and even those roads were closed due to flooding not long after we passed by them. I still remember driving back into the park for the first time after. Although the wreckage was certainly a gut punch, we were fortunate that nothing was devastatingly destroyed. We had roof damage, downed trees, a power line down, a couple of fences down, but the building structures held up relatively well. All the RVs that stayed were upright, although one had been impaled with a tree branch.
6. Keep a well-stocked hurricane kit.
There are suggested hurricane kit lists all over the internet to help you get ideas. But you really need to tailor your kit to your unique needs and situation. If you plan to shelter in place, make sure you have the basics, and then think through how you would get by without electricity, access to a grocery store, use of your credit cards, internet, clean water, etc. for a week to two weeks after the hurricane and then plan accordingly. A basic kit might include the following:
First Aid kit
Manual Can Opener
Kerosene and kerosene lamps
Portable phone charger
Phone charging cord
Phone car charger
Local maps if you are in an unfamiliar area
Canned food items
Charcoal and lighters
Coloring books and items for kids to play with.
Window unit to cool your camper while on generator power
Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends November 30. The idea of a hurricane can be intimidating when you live in sticks and bricks and even more so when you’re in a camper. But with a little preparation and forethought, you can face the season with confidence, even in an RV.