Hurricane Joaquin, which hit with maximum intensity on Aug. 25, became the strongest Atlantic storm in over 100 years when it made landfall along the Eastern Seaboard states. Its rapid intensification brought record rainfall to major coastal cities in northern Mexico and the Caribbean. As the storm approached Florida, many Floridians scrambled to share their most unconventional hurricane tips and preparations. They had a number of items ready in their hurricane survival kits in case they might need them on the very first day of the approaching tropical storm.
On the morning of Aug. 13, Hurricane Joaquin’s eye became visible just as it was expected to, but never approached land or came close to any assets that could be threatened by the approaching storm. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning just before the storm made landfall, which warned residents to expect “catastrophic and life-threatening flash floods and rains” as well as tornadoes and high winds. Although these conditions are common with hurricanes, there were some unusual aspects to this first appearance of the storm.
It was not called a tropical storm and the name did not appear on the official National Weather Service website or in the local newspaper. By the time the storm hit hard, there were no such reports available. As the Category 3 hurricane, it made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast within a little more than two hours, but was quickly followed by a line of showers and later rain bands. There was no warning that Hurricane Joaquin was on its way, so people’s homes and businesses were not protected from the elements. Most people experienced one to two inches of rainfall during the entire duration of the hurricane, with the largest amounts coming down over the coastal areas of Florida.
Preparation is the key to surviving a hurricane, so the widespread damage and structural flooding that could result should not deter individuals from taking appropriate action to protect themselves and their families. Individuals should have flashlights and other emergency items in place before the approaching storm and they should make sure they have these items well stocked throughout the storm. These supplies can include non-toxic personal hygiene products that can help make cleaning easier after a disaster, as well as blankets, pillows and bedding. In terms of essentials for the home, it is important to have bottled water and canned goods on hand.
In terms of travel, people need to consider how they will get to their destination. While there is currently a higher risk for hurricanes from the Gulf Coast, there is still a threat from Tropical Storms moving across the ocean. Even though Florida is one of the most densely populated states in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people live on the island. With this in mind, it is important for residents to take the necessary steps to be prepared for any eventuality and to ensure they are fully prepared for a hurricane, regardless of where they are located.
It is also important for people to be considerate of what they pack for an emergency. Most Floridians do not take the time to pack properly for an emergency, so they end up cramming for the trip or trying to find the most basic supplies. The key to being prepared involves creating a proper inventory, which consists of food, water, utensils, matches, candles, blankets, and basic first aid supplies. If people take the time to build up their emergency kit with these basic items, it will be considerably less complicated for them to create other supplies that might be needed.
While being prepared for a hurricane is one of the best ways to protect oneself and family, it can also mean taking part in recreational activities while on the island. As one of the most densely populated cities in the country, many Floridians are accustomed to conveniences like shopping and dining outside of their homes. Therefore, during a hurricane, people should make it a point to visit local stores and restaurants to stock up on essentials. Doing this may require some extra preparation on the part of the homeowner, since it is always possible that power could be out for days on end. However, people should keep their families’ well-prepared by creating a supply list and making sure everyone has at least one gallon of water per person, per day.
One of the most important aspects of hurricane preparedness involves being able to identify a path of recovery. There is no one certain way of figuring out where the storm will go, although there are several general rules of thumb that people should pay attention to. These include keeping the entire home wet and damp, hanging clothes over the open windows, and making sure that all flashlights, candles, and electrical equipment are turned off and stored in a secure location. While these precautions will not guarantee a direct path of recovery for each household, it does help to know which areas of the island are most likely to become inundated with water, and how to best prepare in order to minimize damage.