Environment

A Few Survival Strategies Hurricane Ike Taught Me

Growing up in Houston and the surrounding area, the threat of a hurricane hitting the coast was something we came to expect. Anyone living in the region knows it's not a matter of if, but when one of the big storms spins into Galveston, bringing a whole bunch of wind and water our way.

Those of us who have lived in the greater Houston area know the drill. Secure things that can blow around, put plywood over the windows, and be prepared to evacuate if you live in an area prone to flooding or other predictable storm hazards. Have your storm radio and enough non-perishable foods and water to last you and your family for a couple of weeks. Have a plan in place for your pets if you have any. Most of these things are common sense.

For some reason, even though hurricane season runs from June to November every year, a whole bunch of us seem to just forget to prepare until there's a huge storm bearing down upon the city. The mad scramble to get last minute supplies always seems to occur, and we would save ourselves a lot of headaches if we had our supplies stocked sooner.

The other predictable hurricane problem concerns evacuations. Sure, if someone lives particularly close to the coast, or lives in housing that is particularly at risk from wind damage or flooding, evacuating is the sensible thing to do. But a panicked, last minute mass exodus of Houstonians who live in sturdy homes is not a good idea.

Hurricane Ike was a good lesson for me, and for a lot of people living in the Houston area. I got off lucky. My electricity was only off for five days, and I knew people suffering without it for a lot longer than that. But living without electricity and a few other things in the days following Ike helped me develop a few good strategies for hurricane survival.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.