Preparing for Hurricane Ike

And so it begins.

Texans hate bad weather. And by hate, I really mean, love to talk non-stop about it and get fake pissed off when the worst-case scenario that ratings-driven weathermen have predicted inevitably end up being quite less than expected.

Case in point. Hurricane Rita, 2005. First off let me say this, I'm not making fun of the individuals effected by hurricanes along the coast -- my own family was personally effected by Katrina. I'm merely making fun of the people that live 300 miles inland who think the end of the world is headed their way.

After dire predictions of tornadoes, power outages and lack of gasoline and food, the day before Hurricane Rita made landfall (and about 36 hours before it was "scheduled" to be in Austin), I filled my tank with gas and stopped at Target to get necessities (wired phone, batteries, bread and beans). The place was a madhouse. People buying hundreds of dollars worth of batteries, the bread isle wiped out with the exception of overpriced Pepperidge Farm sourdough bread (which I took -- it was the end of the world, expensive bread will work too), and TV radios were sold out.

As many Austinities and ACL Fest attendees will then recall, the storm ended up going over East Texas, and we were stuck with Dustbowl 2005. And the return lines at Target were ridiculous.

But that isn't to say we shouldn't be prepared anyways. Take for example, the "Hurricane Preparedness Checklist" I received from my office's building management (changed names to protect the innocent):
As you are aware, Hurricane Ike is currently on a path through the Gulf of Mexico and rapidly approaching the Texas gulf coast. Austin and surrounding areas are likely to experience heavy rains and severe wind this weekend. Please take any necessary precautions to keep yourselves, your families and your employees safe during this time of severe weather. It is wise to stay tuned to news broadcasts and reports from federal, state and local governments to keep apprised of the directives issued to residents.

Regarding [my building] be assured [management company] is working to be as prepared as possible for potential damage.

Please be advised that it is your company’s responsibility to back up all information and safely shut down equipment. In the event of power outage or property damage, building access may be restricted; please plan accordingly.

[Management company] Staff are on call 24 hours per day to respond to issues that might arise at the property. Should you experience an after hours emergency, please contact the [building at a phone number].

Attached is a suggested Hurricane Checklist. These lists may be utilized for your office as well as personal use. Also, for your reference, the local Austin Office of Emergency Management (AOEM) phone number is (512) 974-0450.

We appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Should you have further questions, please contact the Property Management office at [phone number].

Emergency Hurricane Checklist

When preparing for hurricanes, a detailed checklist should be developed indicating the order in which processes are to be shut down and the facility secured. The length of time needed (expressed in hours or days) to accomplish these tasks should be determined in advance so that appropriate actions can be initiated at the proper time. Then, as each task is completed during either a hurricane watch or hurricane warning, check it off and move on to the next one.

Action Time Needed Done

1. Shut down processes safely.
2. Inspect roof edging strips, gutters, flashing, covering, and drains.
3. Inspect sign and stack supports, guy wires, and anchorages.
Check for weak door and window latches or hardware or for insecure panel fastenings. Expedite repairs.
4. Protect vulnerable windows from flying debris.
5. Brace unsupported structural members at construction sites.
6. Protect important records from wind, debris, and rain.
7. Update important back up records and move them to a location not vulnerable to the same incident.
8. Fill above ground tanks to capacity with product or water to minimize wind damage.
9. Anchor structures in the yard that can be moved by high winds, such as trailers, lumber, or any loose yard storage. Move stored materials inside.
10. Assemble the following supplies and equipment at a central, secure location:
____ Emergency lighting _____ Caulking compound
____ Lumber and nails _____ Tarpaulins
____ Tape for windows _____ Power and manual tools
____ Sandbags _____ Shovels and axes
____ Roofing paper _____ Chain saws

12. Ensure that individuals remaining on the premises have the following:

_____ Non-perishable food _____ Battery-operated radio and receivers
_____ First aid equipment _____ Stored drinking water
_____ Lighting _____ Cellular phone with charged battery

So be prepared -- just don't go overboard... and be silly. Like I probably will ;)