February 2, 2019

Weathering the storm

Mother Nature delivered a devastating trio of catastrophes in 2017 in the form of three record-breaking hurricanes that have made people rethink their approach to disaster readiness. First, Harvey punished Texans with 51 inches of rain and $75 billion in damages. Then, Irma became the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever logged outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Finally, Maria wrecked hundreds of homes in Puerto Rico and left much of the island without power, food and water for months.

In the months since, people all over the world have been asking themselves: What would I do if disaster struck? How prepared am I to protect my family and possessions?

Brian Williams, a homeowner in Houston, believes proper planning well in advance of an emergency event can make all the difference.

“I had plenty of supplies, including bottled water and non-perishable foods for my family, extra candles and batteries, and a full tank of gas in my car. But I should have prepared myself sooner than I did,” says Williams, who suffered water damage from a leaky roof in his townhome and had to junk his flooded automobile.

“This storm taught me a lot,” Williams adds. “Stores will sell out, so you have to get your supplies early. You need to clear roof drains prior to a storm to ensure good drainage. You have to move cars to higher ground. You need to remember supplies for your pets. And a backup power source for your cell phone is a must.”

Costco store general manager Kristina Hill was relieved that—despite widespread area flooding—her store near Houston was able to quickly restock household staples that nervous area shoppers bought in droves prior to Harvey. In hindsight, she wishes she had personally followed their lead.

“During Harvey, I realized I was not really ready with enough food to be stuck in my home for three days,” Hill says. “I think everyone believes something like this won’t happen to them. But with so many disasters occurring in the world, we can never be too prepared.”

Jeffrey Rodriguez Prunet feels fortunate that his family is safe and his home near Arecibo in Puerto Rico only incurred minor damage from Maria. Many of his neighbor’s houses were destroyed.

“We had bought water and canned foods and had a first aid kit, flashlights and other basic items,” says Prunet, who still lacks electricity. “And we prepared our home as best we could by boarding up the windows and removing outdoor items that could have become projectiles.”

Maria, however, “was honestly much more destructive than we expected.” Next time, Prunet adds, “were going to make sure we have more food and water and stock up on tools that can help cut up downed trees and clear up the streets.”

To read my new article on this topic, published in the February 2019 issue of Costco Connection magazine, and learn how you can prepare your home and family for a myriad of disasters, click here.