LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
PLAN - 12 Hour Plan
Yes, boys and girls, it's time to talk about the Twelve Hour Plan. At this point, you should have:
1. Laptop Bag (or box of
2. BOB (Bug Out Bag)
3. Complete documentation of your entire life using a digital camera
4. 60 Second Escape Plan
5. Collection of people to communicate with
6. Dependable escape pod.
7. One Hour Escape Plan
Let's rewind time a few hours and begin again at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning, August 27, 2005. (This is the last time I'm going to do that, I promise...) I made the decision to leave at 9:00 AM, and I was finished with all my preps by 9:00 PM on Saturday evening, August 27, 2005.
What did I do for those twelve hours? I was trying to Get My Shit Together...
Yes, I had decided to pull the EJECT lever, but then I discovered that I had a problem. The parachute was on fire... I spent a lot of time running around in my underwear screaming, "WHERE THE F*** IS MY XYZ!? I CAN'T FIND THE G** D*** XYZ! WE NEED THE !@#$% XYZ!" When I tell you that it's a GOOD IDEA to Have Your Shit Together, I'm not just speaking from a theoretical standpoint.
What should I have been doing for those twelve hours? Well, that's what we're here to talk about.
Let's wrap our minds around the purpose of the Twelve Hour Plan. First off, there is very rarely any call for this kind of escape plan outside the context of hurricanes. There are few other emergencies and disasters that can be seen from that kind of distance in time. There are, however, other reasons for the Twelve Hour Plan. I like to call the Twelve Hour Plan the 'Just In Case' Plan. Twelve hours isn't the only timeline either, although I set it up that way. It may be a 24 Hour Plan or a 6 Hour Plan depending on the circumstances. Don't get too hung up on time. We have already seen that getting out sooner is better than later.
The 'Just In Case' part comes in where you look at a particular situation and you say, "OK, let's pack the car, Just In Case." It doesn't mean that you are necessarily going to leave at all, but it doesn't cost you anything to pack the car and be ready to leave quickly. The neighbors may think you're out of your mind, but if you're like me, they already think that.
Look at that tracking map above. That map is both an actual fact in the context of Hurricane Katrina, and a metaphor for talking about all other disasters. Landfall (the bomb detonation) is predicted at about 8:00 AM on Monday morning. 46 hours from now, things could get dicey around here... That means that if the prediction is true, then we need to bug out. At this point, we don't know where the storm is going (bomb is planted). We only know that if we live anywhere in that white prediction zone, that we need to be ready to leave, and we ought to be packing the car at this point. We need to start our 12 Hour Plan, and we need to move it along. If the storm dissipates (bomb is defused) or goes somewhere else, we can always unpack the car.
What can we do, though, that the One Hour Plan doesn't cover? For the most part, we'll be checking our Bug In (stay at home) preps, collecting last minute supplies, and hardening the house. Let's begin.
We see some remote danger that may or may not affect us. Alternatively, there is a chance that the boss will give us Monday off, but we won't find out until Saturday morning. Either way, let's pack the car Friday night so that if we get that long weekend, we can make the most of our time on Saturday rather than wasting the morning packing the car. Just In Case...
Execute the 60 Second plan - but with some modifications. You don't have to rush. Make sure that you do it properly.
Execute the One Hour Plan
Again, with modifications. There is no desperate need to rush. You have time to wash clothes and pack them. You may not want to actually pack your comfort items until the last minute. You may have time to go out and fill your gas tank, saving that 5 gallon spare you have for later. Maybe you have time to make it to the bank and take out some extra cash. Depending on your location and your neighbors, other people may have the same idea. Don't waste time in traffic or crowds. If you buy something, buy it on credit. Don't waste your cash.
Additionally secure your home
Take an inventory of your supplies. How many days of food and water do you have in the house? What kind of disaster supplies do you have? We haven't talked about this yet, but you should already have an inventory of these things. We'll be talking about that and doing some work in our workbooks on later pages. Also make a list of things that you are low on, may need, or would like to have on your return. Check the toilet paper supply! What this list may look like will become clearer in the next few pages.
Harden the house. Depending on your location, this will mean different things to different people. The thing to do for hurricanes and zombie attacks is to board the windows. If you have prepared beforehand for this, you will have plywood pre-cut and anchors already secured around the windows so that you just slap the boards up and spin the nuts onto the anchors. If you have shutters, you can close them. There are all kinds of things for this. You may, however, live in an area where there is no call to board your windows. Does it make any sense to do it in hurricane areas? Yes and no. I did not have the opportunity to board my windows before Katrina, and none of them broke. Even so, would I have liked to have boarded my windows? Yes. Why? Because boarded windows and doors are a deterrent to the casual looter. It's also a deterrent to the casual rescue worker looking for survivors. Is it really of any value against the storm? Yes. We'll be examining some photographs later that will prove this to you.
Clear the yard. This is something we do for hurricanes because anything in the yard could become an airborne, wind-blown missile. That's actually some kind of bullshit, though, because if a storm is bad enough to pick up your potted plants, then your house just isn't going to be there when you come home. Still, it's a good idea to secure everything to keep it from being blown all over creation or otherwise stolen by someone looking for a new garden hose.
Perform secondary tasks
Things like wash clothes, move things that you aren't going to take with you to the second floor or attic in case the water rises, and cover things with tarps in case the roof comes off...
The assumption here is that you are going to be leaving. When you come back, your home may not have essential services like electricity, water, sewer, or gas. You should do things with these services that you cannot do without them. Washing clothes is a big one. Wash everything that's dirty, and then start on things that are not quite dirty. Like bed linens, for instance. Strip the beds and wash the sheets, blankets, and everything else. Once they are dry, slip them into a trash bag and tie it off. Fresh sheets when you come home are nice...
Cleaning may also be something to do. Scrub out the tub. Wash the shower stall. Brush out the toilets. These tasks are things that you can have older children and teenagers do. That keeps them busy, keeps them out of your hair, and if you have to be rescued out of your home later, the rescuers won't know that you normally live like a slob.
If you expect rising water, move things to higher places - like the second floor or attic. Many people saved things this way when Katrina came knocking. Everything on the first floor was lost, but the second floor was high and dry. Estimate the threat to your home, and arrange things so that they are protected as much as possible.
Do the Doomsday Dance
Do these things only if you are actually leaving.
Empty your refrigerator and freezer. If the power goes out for more than a few hours, everything will spoil, and that, my friends, is very high on the Nasty-Nasty scale. It's like one step below 100 decapitated rats in your bed. Really. There are four methods for handling this task, and only three of them work.
The first method is to do nothing. Bad idea. Trust me. I cleaned out a lot of refrigerators and freezers, and I never want to do that again... If the smell doesn't get you, the maggots will. The second method is to take everything out of there and go bury it in the back yard. That works nicely if you have time to dig a BIG hole in the yard. I don't like this method.
The best method is either three or four. Three being to have some extra garbage cans ready, dump everything into the cans, tape them shut, and secure them somewhere where they won't blow or float around. The fourth, and likely best method is one that nobody figured out until after Katrina - and it's what we all wish we had done.
For this task you will need to have (and therefore keep) on hand a box of Ziploc freezer bags and a dozen contractor garbage bags or trash compactor bags. The thick, heavy ones. Regular trash bags will do in a pinch, but the heavy ones are better. The first thing to do is to dump everything overly perishable. Clean out your freezer and refrigerator. Dump out the milk, toss the yogurt, cheese, and petrified cold-cuts that you found in the back of the vegetable drawer and anything else that has a spoilage date that is fast approaching. Take out the ice-trays and dump out any ice in the ice maker and turn it off. You will want to save a bowl full of ice cubes for later. Don't let them melt.
Take everything out of the refrigerator and put it into the Ziploc bags. Everything. If the refrigerator melts down, you want to be able to just take the bags out and toss them. Likewise with the freezer. Take everything out and put it into the ZipLoc bags and then put a few items into each contractor bag and fold them closed neatly. Slip that back into the freezer. The last thing to do is put a bowl of ice cubes on top of one of the bags in the freezer. If you have more than one freezer, you will do this for each freezer.
When you come home, if you still have ice cubes, then your stuff is still good. If you have a bowl of water, or a bowl of flat ice, then throw everything out. It has melted or melted then re-froze when the power came back on.
Rather than face the horror, many people simply disposed of their refrigerators and freezers. That's a huge loss of wealth in terms of food and the appliance itself. I managed to save my refrigerator, and I'll tell you how on a later page. If I'd have prepared properly, I wouldn't have had to go through that nightmare...
If you do not have any other way to secure your property - like boarding the windows and doors - nail the doors shut. Well, all but the strongest door, which you'll want to nail from the outside so that you can get back into the house at some point. My garage doors actually blew open, and I could have lost the garage if the wind was blowing in the wrong way. I have significantly strengthened the doors and added a massive iron bolt, so I don't expect that to happen again...
The last thing to do, as in the One Hour Plan is to make a sign. Make it out of something durable, seal a piece of paper in a ZipLoc bag, or spray paint it on your door. The sign says, "EVERYONE EVACUATED. NOBODY HOME HERE." If you don't do that, rescue workers *will* do whatever it takes to get into your house and 'check for survivors'. We'll be talking about this in later pages. MAKE THE SIGN!
The Twelve Hour Plan is still an escape plan. The expectation is that you will be leaving. Exactly how you prepare your home for whatever event it is that you are escaping from will depend on many factors that I cannot completely cover. Exercise good judgment and think for yourself. If your largest threat is wildfires, what can you do to prepare your home from that? Maybe nothing. Volcanic eruption? Same thing... If your major threat is tornado, then a 12 hour plan isn't really of that much value - but thinking about it will make sure that you have protected the right things by moving them into your basement or tornado shelter ahead of time. Same way with earthquakes, I suppose.
The 12 Hour Plan serves two additional purposes aside from the obvious purpose of getting you ready to leave while giving you the option to stay. The first is that it forces us to think about a looming disaster in a rational way and encourages us to GHOST (Get and Have Our Shit Together.) The second thing it does is serve as a bridge from the Bug-Out Plan to the Bug-In Plan, because it makes us start thinking about our home in new ways - ways that we will cover in future pages.
For now, though, we are leaving. The sky looks strange. The clouds are moving in an odd way. My Escape is packed, my wife's Honda Element is packed, we haven't had any real sleep for the last 48 hours, and now, at 6:15 AM on Sunday, August 28, we are going to put this show on the road. Our objective is 364 miles away – seven minutes shy of six hours on a sunny day with good traffic. Sugar Land, Texas, here we come!