How to prepare for hurricane season in Texas.

Technically, hurricane season begins in June, but I feel like things don’t get hairy until September. I want to preface this by saying that I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 12 years and have now lived in Austin, Texas for four years.

So, I haven’t lived in the direct path of a storm, but I have gone several days without power and have learned many lessons through nearby hurricanes.

During Hurricane Harvey, of course, Austin did not suffer as bad as Houston and nearby areas. But, I lost power and was quickly reminded of the storms I weathered in Louisiana.

Because I’m working for myself this year, and because I feel like the environment is going to shit, I started thinking about hurricane season a solid six months ago. So, this is how I’m preparing for any storms brewing in the gulf.

Candles & Lighting

In Austin, we likely won’t have to board up windows, but we’ll lose power. I’ve lost power in many non-storm situations and you always think it’s going to be okay and it’s really just a giant downer.

For me, I learned very quickly that without any lighting, it’s darker than dark. Even during the day, it’s usually overcast, so you have to either sit near a window or rely on additional light.

This year, I’ve stocked up on candles of all sizes and lighters. I also checked my stock of flashlights and other battery-operated lights. After Hurricane Isaac, my mom got me a Coleman headlamp, which sounds so silly, but my apartment complex has no emergency lighting, so it was scary as hell going down the outdoor steps in the dark.

The headlamp has also come in handy for reading during a power outage, or any task where you need both hands. I bought some of those flat lights that stick on the wall or any flat surface, and a flashlight that clips onto anything, particularly for the shower.

Cooling Devices

No power means no air conditioning or ceiling fans… and it gets hot really quick. For the first time EVER, I bought a battery-operated table fan and a chargeable personal air conditioner.

Neither of these are going to feel amazing, but it’s better than nothing! I’ve found that opening windows and doors help, but if it’s raining, that can make things worse.

Food & Water

Austin floods very easily, and we have had boil notices when the lake gets too high. So, this year, I bought gallons of water just in case. I also have a filtered container in my fridge that I’d fill up before a storm.

I cannot be trusted with much “extra” food in my pantry, so this is something I’m leaving to the last preparations should a storm come. I usually get snacks to keep in the pantry — you don’t want to be opening your fridge when the power shuts off. Protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit and nut butters are always good options!

Batteries & Charging Devices

I’m happy to say, I took an inventory of all the batteries I would need for all of the things I bought. I currently have two charging devices for my phone, iPad and other chargeable devices. However, I feel like I need at least one more external charger to feel totally safe.

Pet Supplies

Obviously, getting supplies for a storm includes getting whatever kitty Blanche needs, too. In her case, she needs a good supply of food, water, and cat litter. You never know if you’ll be able to drive to the store, or if the store will even be open. One thing I’ve been looking at, is a cooling pad that she could lay on. Other than that, Blanche is all set — she has a carrier already set up should we need to evacuate quickly.

Other Pre-Storm Tips

During Hurricane Isaac, I relied on a battery-operated radio for news and really, just to hear what was happening outside. I still have it, but it doesn’t pick up any station clearly anymore so I’m looking at various all-weather radios. It’s not a must-have given our phones, but it’s nice to have, especially if cell towers go down.

Here’s a few other tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Fill your car up with gas. This is precautionary, just in case you do need to leave, and the stations will likely run out during the storm. This also goes hand-in-hand with not driving just for fun. When I lived in Baton Rouge, so many people got stir crazy and just were driving around wasting gas, looking at storm debris, and honestly, it was unsafe.
  • Get cash. After a storm, many stores won’t have power and may only be accepting cash. Even if you don’t need supplies, you’d be surprised what a cold drink or a bag of ice will do for your mental health.
  • Put something in the crock pot. This sounds silly, but during Isaac, all I ate was snacks for days since I had no power. All I wanted was a hot meal, even though it was hot outside. So, when Harvey came, I made chili in my crock pot and kept it on low. When I lost power, I still had a warm meal waiting for me.
  • Use your washing machine as a cooler. Pre-storm, fill up your washing machine with ice, drinks, and anything you want to keep cool. It will stay cold for at least 24 hours. You can also just keep bagged ice there, as well. This may also come in handy if you go days without power. Usually, hurricane parties serve those who have a full fridge and need to clean it out beforehand. Having to toss everything and buy all new things really sucks.
  • Consider things to do. I’ve learned that riding out a storm can be quite lonely, especially if you’re by yourself. So, I have a stash of crossword puzzles and coloring books, and of course, loads of books. During Isaac, I felt so much better with a stack of library books and my crockpot of chili!
  • Invite people over. Once you’re prepared, reach out to others and make sure they’re okay. If you get power, tell friends and anyone you know. Offer up your place to charge devices, sleep in air conditioning, or simply have a cold drink. I can’t tell you how many new friends I made in Louisiana when I told coworkers I had power and said they were welcome to wash their clothes and charge their phones at my place.
  • Hopefully, we won’t even need this advice, but you just never know!
  • For more hurricane preparation tips, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Instagram @Orangejulius7– where I share more of my daily life. Live in the Baton Rouge area? I’m teaching a Blogging Boot Camp this September. If you don’t live in Baton Rouge, you can always schedule a Creative Session with me!

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