It’s that time of year again. And while I’d like to feel certain that we will not experience another major hurricane this year, I’d rather be prepared than disappointed. Harvey was the first major hurricane we’ve weathered since building Southbound RV Park and Cabins, and I think our team learned a few useful things through the experience. Hurricane preparedness for a campground is intense. We had to act quickly once we realized Harvey was barreling toward our coast.
You often hear that campgrounds are small communities, everyone looking out for each other. You don’t always get to see this as dramatically as we did pre and post Harvey.
Prepping the Campground
As soon as we were certain (based on the chart above;) Harvey was coming our way, everyone sprang into action. Everything had to be secured, slides and awning had to be brought in, water tanks had to be filled. Not all of our guests were able to get back to their campers prior to landfall, so the team contacted everyone to get key codes or find hidden keys for their RVs. We secured everyones grills, tables, and totes, brought slides in, and prayed for the best.
We made sure all the park equipment and implements were hunkered down in the shop with the shop doors closed and barricaded from the inside. The last thing we wanted was an RV being impaled with our tools or supplies.
Our staff and other campers were also checking on the elderly in our campground. With some insistence, we were able to evacuate everyone except one dear camper who’d lived through hurricane Carla back in the day and felt sure he could handle whatever came. We begged him to evacuate, but to no avail, so we left him keys to the office/store and clubhouse in case he needed to shelter there or needed to get supplies after, and we prayed for his safety. Thankfully our prayers were answer. He weathered the storm in his fifth wheel without so much as a scratch but said he’d never do it again. It was a night he didn't want to remember, he said.
Prepping our personal things
Once the campground was as prepared as possible, we agonized over the decision to evacuate ourselves. It was painful to leave our beloved campground, but we had to put our children’s safety first. Had it been just Chris and I, we would have just hunkered down.
Getting our personal supplies packed was hectic, to say the least. First, I made sure all of Chris’ diabetes supplies had been safely stored in a tote to take with. Then his insulin, orange juice and candy for lows in the ice chest. Then chargers and phone cords. Then a few changes of clothes, diapers and wipes, then canned food that I had on hand, cereal, milk, and water. After the family’s things were packed in the suburban, I turned to our pets. My sister was able to take our dog, and one of the cats we were able to send with other campers. Once I was as prepared as I could get, we sat at the kitchen table and again agonized over whether to leave the campground. At this point, the storm was less than 24 hours from landfall.
By the time we decided to evacuate inland about an hour, the roads were already starting to get congested. We may have broken a few laws to get to our destination faster.
Waiting on Harvey to arrive
It’s not practical to be packed and ready to go before a hurricane is even reported off your coast. But that shouldn’t prevent you from making a Go List of essentials so that when it’s time to pack, you’re able to do so quickly. Make sure the items on your list are always on hand during hurricane season so you can avoid the pre-hurricane grocery and hardware store frenzy. For instance, after experiencing Harvey and his aftermath, I keep a couple loaves of bread in the freezer all the time. I rotate them out as I buy new loaves, but I’ve always got a couple to grab in a jiffy. I also always keep peanut butter and honey on hand. My little people can survive on long time on Peanut Butter Honey sandwiches. I keep a large ice chest in the back of my suburban. I use this for routine shopping trips, but in case of a hurricane, it’s there ready to be packed. We also stock ice in our park store so we have it ready in a hurry. The goal is to not be scrambling as a hurricane is barreling toward our coast. At least, not scrambling for the things I could reasonably have on hand ahead of time.
Here is my go list-
Phone battery pack
change of Clothes for everyone
First Aid kit
Plastic crates to store items I cannot take
Extra gas cans
Variety nonperishable foods/bread
Plastic cups and
Propane Camping grill
Small propane tanks for grill
Window Unit/AC unit
Empty five-gallon Buckets
Working camera with charged batteries
Your list may vary as each of us has a unique situation. The important thing is to have a plan and think about to execute it ahead of time.
Our first look at the campground after Harvey