Mike and I have been keeping a close eye on the recent developments of Hurricane Irma which is barreling towards the Caribbean and Florida. We are currently in Central Florida, near the Orlando area, making some alterations to the bus and riding out our current “broke-ness” with family. Pretty much all of our family lives in Florida or in Puerto Rico. This storm is kind of a big deal.
Orlando doesn’t typically see very bad hurricane damage. We are a little too far inland and so the storm surge isn’t a big concern for us but we can get flooding and a lot of damage from the wind. Florida is a little bit more intimately familiar with the effects of a hurricane than most places in the U.S. We stick right out into the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico- like a giant beacon for incoming storms- and so we tend to take hurricane season pretty seriously. My senior year of high school we started 3 weeks late (and my house was without power for almost 3 weeks) after we got 3 back to back hurricanes.
We are not comfortable (and it’s really not a good idea at all) with riding out the storm while actually on the bus. The bus, while being higher off the ground than most vehicles, can easily flip trapping us inside if there is flooding; it would not be a stable place to be in the high wind speeds that hurricanes bring (nor is any other kind of mobile home); and there is a high chance for tornadoes that tend to happen on the outer bands of a hurricane and you do not want to be in a bus/RV/mobile home when tornadoes hit.
As of right now, unless the trajectory changes and the forecast looks a lot worse for the Central Florida area we will be riding the storm out at my mother’s house. That being said, if we get an evacuation order we will leave. I am a firm believer in obeying those orders when possible. It’s safer for you and for all of the emergency personnel that will have to get out there and rescue your ass. But, the bus brings an additional set of considerations as the storm advances. We need to find a safe place to park the bus while the storm hits, we need to block any water that could get into the bus, and we need to make sure that everything is packed up and we are supplied just in case it gets bad. I am almost always over-prepared vs under-prepared.
Our current plan is to tarp the bus to cover the hatches in the roof, board up the windows somehow, and move the bus into an empty field where no trees can fall on it. Our front hatch has a leak that definitely needs to be covered and, while the windows haven’t been a problem, we don’t trust them to remain watertight under hurricane force wind and rain. I used to have a 1987 El Camino (it was my first car, I was in high school so this would have been the 3 hurricane year) and we parked it out in the same field when the storms hit and it couldn’t take the wind and rain and an amazing amount of water got in the car. It was a pain to dry out and it smelled funky for ages…I’d like to not repeat the same thing with the bus especially given our recent mold issues (stay tuned for that fun adventure). We’ll also be removing any perishable items from the bus and storing them in the house as we won’t have power to the bus out there and we need to do some work on our generator to get it up and running again.
Outside of bus specific stuff, there are a whole bunch of other things that you want to have ready in the event of a hurricane so we’ve provided a checklist below. Not all of these may apply to you but it’s a good starting point for preparing for a storm. The Red Cross also has a checklist here that you can check out as well.
Hurricane Ready Checklist
- Tarps to cover emergency roof hatches
- Material to cover/board bus windows
- Safe place to park the bus away from any trees and away from house/shelter
- Remove food from fridge/freezer and transport to shelter
- Pack away any outdoor furniture, umbrellas, lights, bikes, etc.
- Generator Maintenance
- Non-perishable food- dry goods, canned goods, etc (at least 3 days worth, more if possible)
- Gasoline/Diesel – extra and make sure to fill all vehicle tanks up before the storm hits
- Cooking Material- charcoal, propane, isobutene, JetBoil, grill, etc.
- Hurricane Lamps/Candles
- Water- a lot of water, at least 3 days worth but as much as possible
- Baby Supplies- diapers, bottles, formula etc.
- Bathroom Plan (not usually an issue unless you’re on a electricity-powered well system and the power goes out)
- Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Supplies- toilet paper, pads, tampons, wet wipes, etc
- Dog/Pet Food and Supplies- make sure collars and tags are on the animal and keep a close eye on them, animals can bolt when very frightened and escape
- Weather Radio- battery or hand crank powered
- Cell Phones and Chargers and Backup Battery chargers (if possible)
- Medical Supplies- medications, hearing aids, batteries, spares, etc
- First Aid Kit
- Clean Clothing
- Copies of Personal Documents Gathered Together
- Family and Emergency Contact Information
- Evacuation Plan- just in case, if an evacuation is ordered and you can get out, GO!!!
Let us know in the comments if you think we missed something!
Also see why we may decide not to evacuate.