For about four months along the Texas coastline, people with relatively no interest in weather other than casual conversations in grocery store waiting lines ("Sure is hot outside." "Yup.") suddenly become experts in sea surface temperatures, El Niño and vertical wind shear. Welcome to hurricane season.
The season begins in June and ends in November, but for all intents and purposes, the Texas hurricane season runs from July through September, with the peak starting around mid-August. With that in mind, being prepared should start approximately now.
When I owned a home in the Heights, I tried to be ready. I went to a home improvement store and had pre-cut plywood made after measuring the windows. I stored water and gasoline in gas cans. I had provisions for my pets and did what I could to keep trees pruned. But even after living in Houston virtually my entire life, I still found the task daunting. Fortunately, Home Depot is offering free hurricane preparedness at all its locations on July 27 to give Gulf coast residents a leg up on our annual tropical visitors.
Over 700 stores throughout the South and along the Atlantic coast will be offering free workshops on "critical hurricane readiness topics, such as storm prep projects, generator safety, sizing generators for specific home or business needs and assembling disaster preparedness kits," according to a release.
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Now, personally, I don't know how many people will have or buy a generator. Frankly, that seems a little low on my list of needed items, but other projects and disaster preparedness kits certainly hit the mark.
The workshops are part of an increased hurricane awareness effort by the home improvement giant, particularly in response to last year's Hurricane Sandy, which shocked the hell out of a large concentration of residents of the Northeast. Home Depot is offering the workshops all the way to New England and has opened a satellite storm recovery location in New Jersey.
We felt sorry for the victims of Sandy, but what media called a "super storm," we called a "summer thunderstorm." But the shock and awe of a category 1 hurricane is probably about what would happen to us if we suddenly felt a tiny earthquake. Californians would no doubt chuckle at our panic as well.
The bottom line is that it is a good thing to be ready for hurricane season. It makes it easier when the time comes to actually panic. Plus, if you've REALLY done your homework, you will have enough plywood for your windows and enough beer for your fridge. Gotta be prepared!