Here are some samples from Getting on the Upside of Hurricanes.
Get a feel for the book – what’s in it, my style of writing, how all the ideas, tips, strategies and actions are grouped and listed. That way you’ll get a great overview
On this page I’ve included
The book’s chapter headings
Samples from story line – “A Quiet Day Out of the Office” (before Hurricane Charley hit and when I still believed it wouldn’t), “Getting in the Groove” (putting up hurricane shutters) “None of the Above” (the day after the hurricane) and “A Man’s Gotta Do” (Me, a roof, some tarps and . . .well you’ll see)
And I’ve also included one of the many checklists so you can see how easy it is to get your real-life actions done properly.
The story samples are in the order I wrote them but they’re out of context; they’re just snippets - funny and sad.
Let’s start with the Chapter Headings and then move on to a couple of fun parts and one of the sad parts in the story. After that you’ll see one of the checklists (People With Special Needs). The entire list of checklists is right at the end.
1. Why You Should Read This and Why I had To Write It
2. Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne
3. The Upside Effect
4. Be Prepared! – Think Ahead, Plan Ahead
5. Things To Do a Long Time Before You Are Threatened
6. Ready, Get Set, Save
7. Your Emergency Supplies Kit
8. People With Special Needs
9. Caring For Your Pets
10. Evacuating Safely and Successfully
11. During The Storm and After The Storm
12. Protecting Your Boat
13. Flooding Is Definitely Worse
15. Appendix – Useful Web Sites
A Quiet Day Out of the Office
‘Tell it like it is Dr Steve.’ I said, ‘What’s going on with Tropical Storm Bonnie?’
Well it appears that Tropical Storm Bonnie is old news and the world’s most respected climatologist has something to say about Hurricane Charley.
‘Hurricane Charley? Whose idea was it to spell Charley “e-y”?
Not Dr Steve, I’ll bet. However, Tropical Storm Bonnie is off into the wild blue yonder and all eyes are on The Gulf.
Gulf of Mexico Gulf?
Blood and sand!
Where’s Laura? Oh, yes, at work putting all the computers on desks in case it floods in Punta Gorda. I wonder if that’s why she went? I wonder if all daughters know things before their fathers do?
So I said to my ever-loving,
‘Hey, wasn’t there a film a few years back called Bonnie and Charley where they both got shot?’
And she said ‘No, you’re thinking of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.’
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Getting in the Groove
And Hurricane Charley, according to the good Dr Steve, is heading north.
That’s fair; Tampa never gets much news coverage. Except when the Tampa Bay Bucs won the 30-something Super Bowl. They got coverage then.
“Where are your Buccaneers?”
“On each side of my Buccanhead.”
It’s an old joke but it sometimes gets a laugh.
Except when you tell it to a Tampa Bay person. Ah well.
‘Now how do you know the hurricane’s going to Tampa, Dr Steve?’
Because there’s nothing to stop it?
What stops hurricanes?
Cold fronts, that’s what. You can’t beat a cold front for hurricane-stopping power or, at least hurricane-redirecting power.
Where’s the nearest cold front?
‘Show me the big bendy line with the little triangles on it, Dr S.’
No cold front.
Hurricane Charley is definitely going north.
All we’ll get is a bit of wind.
And Category 2 isn’t all that bad. 115 mph winds. Halve that for every thirty minutes of longitude, or whatever the rule is and we should just get a strong breeze just like Hurricane Georges back in 1999. (Hurricane Georges always sounded to me like two or more hurricanes otherwise it would just have been called one George)
‘Well done Dr Steve.’
Enough of weather; I’ll see what’s on WINK News. Old Jim and Lois usually have something of interest to say.
More Hurricane Charley!
It’s going north on WINK, as well. Well it would, they all copy the same homework. Computer models all say the same thing.
‘Why are you saying it’s going north, Jim, and then say it could make landfall anywhere from Naples to Tampa?’
Naples isn’t north, Naples is south. ‘What do you mean Fort Myers?’
Well, actually Fort Myers is still a way off. Winds up to 100 miles an hour for us if it goes to Fort Myers.
A hundred miles an hour isn’t all that much; I drive at 100 mph sometimes when I go back to England for a vacation. Only occasionally; I often do about ninety but a hundred isn’t much more.
But if this hurricane is going north how can it go to Fort Myers?
To get to Fort Myers it will have to go right. To go right there has to be a cold front in the way. Dr Steve didn’t mention the cold front.
What if there’s a cold front that Dr Steve doesn’t know about?
That doesn’t make sense. Dr Steve is in the National Hurricane Centre.
National not local.
Dr Steve should know more than Jim and Lois because he’s a weather expert.
But just a minute, perhaps Lois and Jim are actually more in the know than Dr Steve. After all, where is the National Hurricane Centre? I’m going to stick with Lois and Jim. They’re in Fort Myers; they can probably see Hurricane Charley from their desk or they’ve got a cameraman at the window looking out to see if he can see anything and then relay up-to-the-second information back to them so they can look good and sound knowledgeable.
And Jim always wears a suit and a tie.
Lois always looks as though she’s wearing a very sensible twin set. You can always rely on a news anchor person who wears sensible twin sets.
But this still isn’t the relaxing Friday away from the office I was hoping it would be.
Good thing we put up all the hurricane shutters the other day. I only do things like that because the neighbors do and I don’t want them to think I’m stand-offish. Actually, we all help each other on our street.
So we put up Jim and Shirley’s shutters. Jim did all the technical stuff and Shirley told him what to do. So did Frank. Frank’s another neighbor. Frank hasn’t got any hurricane shutters but he still wanted to join in and play. Frank has anti-hurricane glass in his windows.
So while Jim and Shirley were round the front we were round the back; I put the shutters up in the groove things, Carol put the bolts in and Frank put the nuts on and we said we were a new company called “Hang ‘em and Screw ‘em”. Nobody else thought it was funny but we did and we kept telling everybody and we would laugh and they would just go “Oh.”
And then they’d say ‘Can you come and help with mine next?’ And that’s how it went; helping each other to put up shutters.
Because that’s what we do. We’re all that kind of people on our street. Someone says let’s have a party, so we have a party. Let’s go on a trip, so we go on a trip. Let’s all drink beer in the middle of the road and call it Oktoberfest. Even neighbors from the next road come to our street parties. It’s brilliant living in America.
Anyway, Carol went and helped Joan because her family is on vacation; which prompted Frank to say,
‘Just remembered something; I bought screens for my lanai and I’m not sure how to install them.’
‘Not a problem’, I replied, ‘Carol won’t be long, I’m sure she’ll be able to . . . ah, you mean me, don’t you? Let’s go.’
So off we go to Frank’s lanai.
So we’re looking at these screen things. They’re like big nets. They’re huge. And heavy. It was like he wanted to catch the hurricane or something. There certainly wouldn’t be any fish to catch.
‘These are new, aren’t they?’
‘Yup, we thought they’d be better than huge shutters but hanging them seems to be awkward.’
‘Awkward! I’ve never seen anything like them. You stand there and take the weight and I’ll hang the corner, then we’ll move to the next hook.’
Well, we pulled and lifted and tied and sweated and then realized it was upside down.
‘Tony, I think it’s upside down.’
‘It doesn’t say which way is “up”, so how do you know?’
‘It’s obvious when you stand back. And that’s why it’s so difficult; they’re meant to go round the other way.’
‘Do you think it matters?’
So we had the double pleasure of unhooking the thing and re-hooking it and tying down the bottom and then spending the next hour hooking and tying off all the others. I didn’t realize their lanai was that big!
Or that I was so unfit.
And then I realized – I’d still not done my front window shutters. I’d forgotten to. This is going to be a long day.
Anyway, after you put up all the window shutters and you’ve secured the garage door and you’re still outside you have to remember that the side garage door is still open and you go in that way.
No, I didn’t forget or go into a panic about being stuck outside on my own. I’m just saying so if it happens to you, you can go in through the side door.
- - - - - - - - - -
Not Such a Quiet Day, After All
‘Dr Steve, the doughnut bull’s-eye thingy just moved a bit to the right! Did you bang the TV with your leg or did that thing just go right a bit?
Now come on, Dr Steve, help me out here! Did you just bang that TV monitor with your leg or are you just not looking closely enough at it?’
It just went right, a bit!’
Right means it’s closer to me. So if it’s heading north and it just went right that means it’s going north-right. And that’s where I live. And if the whole hurricane is about an hour from here traveling north-right at 20 miles an hour with an internal wind speed of 115 miles an hour then it will be here in about an hour.
For crying out loud.
I’m going back to Lois and Jim.
‘What do you mean it’s now Category 4?’
Have you any idea how fast Category 4 is? Category 4 is like 15 miles an hour faster than my roof is supposed to be able to stay on.
‘Lois, Jim, Dr Steve! What are you doing to me?
What’s happening to my quiet day?’
Still Charley’s got a little eye, so he might not see our house especially as it looks like everybody else’s all covered in hurricane shutters.
And it still might go to Englewood because it is still going north (a bit)
It’s not going north at all, is it?
It’s on its way into Charlotte Harbor, isn’t it?
The very same Charlotte Harbor which I call paradise and it’s a Category 4 hurricane and it’s right on my doorstep.
And come to think of it the wind is beginning to blow rather loudly and it’s gusting even more loudly and we can’t see. We have to go to the front garage door because there are little windows in it but up at the top so you have to stand on something to see out. They’re really just for show but we had to buy a big thick plastic hurricane shield to go behind it in case of a hurricane so we are very pleased we got it but it does make it difficult to see out . But we could see enough to see that the wind is picking really up and the trees are waving, bending, twisting. And it’s raining.
I’m not feeling relaxed at all.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
None of the Above
How do you know when it’s time to get out of bed?
1. It’s light
2. The birds are singing
3. Your wife says she wants a cup of coffee
4. All of the above
Today isn’t going to be an all of the above day.
It isn’t really light even though it should have been; no birds were singing and there should have been Not even our neighborly hawk, who doesn’t sing he just sits in our tree and shrieks. I always thought it was because he’s not a morning bird and he’s telling the larks (who are morning birds) to put a sock in it. No larks, either, no jays, come to think of it. No squirrels running across the roof looking for peanuts to bury.
And Carol was sleeping like a baby.
But it was still time to get up – early.
Lots to do.
Why isn’t today an all of the above day?
What really happened, yesterday?
Why am I sad?
There aren’t going to be any stores open in Punta Gorda; that’s for sure. And no telephone lines and no gasoline and no television and no radio to check on how things are and no lots of stuff, I suppose.
Feeling strange walking around. No coffee, no tea, no breakfast. There’s so much I should be doing.
What should I do?
We NEED things, Tone, we need help, our neighbors need help
None of us prepared as well as we should have done, I know that, now. We bought water and batteries and some tarps and stuff and put up our hurricane shutters, just like the booklets tell us to but now it’s obvious that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough! Confound it, it wasn’t enough!
Oh, how I wish I could have a last week do-over, again.
I’d better make a list and find a store.
So off to find a store before anyone else is awake, to buy some after-the-hurricane-stuff.
‘Venice is the best bet.’ I thought. I like Venice; it’s one of those comfortable towns. We love Venice Beach, the pier, the sand, the hot dog guy. The warm, calm feeling you get in Venice is one of the reasons we came to Florida.
But today I’m sad.
And that’s why I’m sad. Our home. Our street. Our neighbors’ homes.
They’re not like they were yesterday morning. They’re like they are this morning. After-the-hurricane mornings aren’t a bit like an all of the above day.
‘Shape up’, Tone. Venice here I come! In Carol’s van. I can get more in the back of the van than I can in the Cadillac. That’s sensible. Well done, Tone. Keep thinking like that.
Garage door opens OK and it’s not as heavy as I’d expected (once I’d released the drive chain) It’s not possible to push it open with the drive chain engaged! I’ll remember that for next time.
Shut up, Tone, there ain’t gonna be no next time.
Broken glass falling out of the little windows. Sweep it up. Don’t want a puncture.
Back out. Drive off. Watch what you do. What’s the best way to get to the Interstate? Slowly and carefully, that’s the best way. Driving through hurricane debris doesn’t lend itself to high speed and listening to music at the same time. It’s like driving on a flooded road or on broken glass. Or ice. You don’t just go slow, you go careful. You will the car to stay moving. You feel every possible nail or damaged cable hoping that you won’t get a flat. You don’t quite sit in the seat, you sort of hover above it. You break more carefully. You watch all your mirrors.
This is not an all of the above day at all.
It’s a never-before day.
I can’t get through. What is all that stuff? They’ve barricaded the road.
No they haven’t. It’s buildings. Good grief it’s the town homes. This is all town home! Roofs, walls, drapes, everything in piles all across the road
Those poor people!
I have to turn round. I’ll go the other way, there’s no way I’m getting through on this road. This is incredible!
Where is everybody?
Why am I the only car on the road?
Has the Sheriff closed all the roads?
Am I breaking the law?
Am I being stupid being out on the road? Where is everybody?
I shouldn’t be but I am. Not scared, exactly, I feel kind of guilty I’ve just not been caught yet. I feel so uneasy about this.
Great God in Heaven! Their roof’s totally gone! So’s theirs!
It’s two streets away and these houses look like they’ve been bombed. Just like the town homes. It’s a flaming war zone. This is madness. What on earth am I doing out on my own? Why is my roof still on when they’ve all lost theirs? Tornadoes! We got the eye, they got the eye wall. They got the tornadoes!
Blood and sand! Nothing can stand up to a tornado! And we missed it by a couple of streets.
There’s someone! I’m not alone!
There’s someone else!
It’s not Day of The Triffids.
But it is like a funeral procession. Everyone is driving at 15mph. Everywhere is trashed. Junk and trash and tree branches and cables and poles. And whole sheets of plywood with shingles on them. These are people’s roofs in the street; people’s homes!
What is this place we used to call “home”?
Let I75 be open!
Just let that Interstate be open! Please let it be open
That’s the EMS building’s roof! It’s the whole flaming roof lying there! They lost the roof!
It’s open! I can see headlights moving across the overpass. But there aren’t any traffic lights. There aren’t any traffic light poles. There’s just debris.
Debris you weave around; it’s like driving drunk, except I’m going all over the road on purpose so I don’t hit a light pole or something. Good grief what is this mess we used to call home?
Get to Venice, Tone. There’s work to be done. There and back before Carol and Laura wake up!
There and back, safe and sound.
Think, Tone, think!
I didn’t leave a note telling them where I am. Oh for crying out loud, why didn’t I leave a note?
You’ve got to get back before they wake up.
Who’s that? What the? Who are they?
Five or six men ahead of me. All in black. They look like bandit (the word didn’t get spoken).
They’re directing traffic. They’re National Guard or something. They’ve actually shipped in law enforcement.
There’s more of them. Every corner of every road. Green uniforms. Black uniforms. Look at the guns, these guys mean business.
It was days before anyone got to Homestead after Hurricane Andrew. Wow! They’re here. At least we’ll be crime-free. Thanks Jeb!
‘I need supplies for my family.’
I even saluted him. I don’t know why; it just felt right. Something between gratitude and respect, between feeling vulnerable because of yesterday and strong because they’re all here.
Up to the slip road. More Guardsmen. Waving me through
‘Thank you’. I shouted.
Onto the interstate. That’s the cell phone tower, or what’s left of it. Rather like a giant version of our local channels antenna. Oh no, look at all the pines and crap just strewn about. I’ll never get to Venice. Oh God, what if I’m stuck in the road? It’ll take an hour to walk back home.
Oh, this is stupid, Tony. Why did you do such a thing?
This is crazy!
It’s normal again.
I’ve been driving for fifteen minutes and the roads are clear! I’m doing 70mph! It’s surreal; back there it’s a nightmare and just up here it’s normal! What kind of hurricane was that?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A Man’s Gotta Do . . .
What to do, what to do?
Pretty obvious, really.
So now it’s a case of getting on the roof, nail down the tarps and then we can set about doing everything else.
I’ve never been on a roof.
Roofs are high up
Still, a man’s gotta do what his wife won’t.
Now then; how do you get up there? How do you get on a roof?
How do you send a sixty year-old man up on a roof and return him again safely to earth? (as JFK might have said)
Fortunately I spent some of my teenage years listening to Mr. Boland in a physics lab. After three long years of high school physics I graduated with what today would be considered a fail. (Actually it was a fail then as well). Yet, strangely, the experience left me with three essential pieces of information.
#1 Mr. Boland didn’t like me very much. Example -we were doing specific gravity (which is very complicated) and he said ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ And I said ‘Can I have an ice cream?’
Physics teachers just don’t have a sense of humor.
#2 If you’re actually on a roof and you fall off it’s possible to calculate your very own ground-impact velocity. for budding physics experts you use the formula V2 – U2 = 2gs (V is final velocity and g has something to do with gravity). The formula is based on Newton’s First Law of Specific Gravity which states (apparently) The higher the roof the more it will hurt.
And #3 is that to get on a roof in the first place you have to use an anti-gravity device (or AGD for budding physics experts). My AGD of choice is a step ladder. Also known as an up-quark if you’re reading this in CERN (CERN’s a place not a language).
So, on with the old cycle helmet – falling off a roof can be less painful if you’re wearing a cycle helmet (One of my laws).
The roof is quite steep but not so steep that it exceeds the co-efficient of friction (and they said I learned nothing in physics). And it’s very hot. Until you get on a roof in Florida you have no idea how hot a roof can be.
You can’t put your hand on it, you can’t sit on it, you can’t kneel on it, you can’t rest your elbow on it and if you stand up on it, you’re too far away to knock a nail in it.
Then Laura came up on the roof. She didn’t even notice it was high or steep or hot, so I had to pretend it wasn’t high or steep or hot, so now not only did I suffer a hurricane and not only do I have to confront a screwdriver and not only do I have to relive my physics lessons but now I have to climb on a roof and get sunburned and be scared and not let my daughter know.
It’s not going to be a quiet Saturday out of the office, either.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
One of the Checklists – People with Special Needs
If you are a person with special needs or if you have a relative or friend who has special needs get advice from your medical practitioner, social worker, or other professional and register with your county Emergency Management Office.
Special Care Centers might only open on an as-needed basis
• Form a support group or buddy system, if you haven’t one already, so each knows to help the other. Make sure everyone in the group knows which medical or other professional should be contacted if you become incapacitated. And have a back-up buddy in case Buddy 1 is ill or evacuates
• Make sure each buddy can operate any special equipment
• Make sure each buddy can communicate with you or your relative properly – and practice it if necessary
• Create an appropriate emergency supplies kit. Use the list, above, and add what you need, what your medical practitioner or other specialist suggests
• Know what medications might be needed and arrange for an appropriate supply – and put it in the Family File, so they aren’t forgotten about
• Have a list of specific medical devices which are needed and know how to get replacements in case of loss or breakage
• Wear medical alert tags to help identify specific needs, quickly. EMS and other specialists will look for them – it saves precious time
• Pre-print important messages, if needed, to show to EMS staff and keep them in good view
If you are responsible for someone who resides in an ALF or nursing home, check the following
• Make sure you now the person at the facility you should be in contact with (and their phone numbers) especially in time of emergency
• Know the facility’s emergency management plan and how it will be implemented
• Confirm the plan has been approved by appropriate authorities
• Check to make sure the facility has stand-by generator power and how they intend to deal with power failure if they do not have one
• Check how much of the facility is serviced by the generator and how that affects the care of residents
• How much emergency food, etc will the facility have on hand
• In what circumstances will the facility be evacuated
• How will you be informed (and who will inform you) if there is to be an evacuation
• What might your expected role be (if any) if the facility is to be evacuated
• Where might the residents be evacuated to
• How will you be able to contact them during and after evacuation
• How will the residents be transported to the new facility
• What is the new facility’s emergency plan/resources, etc
• How will the residents be transported back when It is safe to do so
• How would your family member join you/be collected so they can be evacuated with you
• How would they return to the facility afterwards
So, the list of chapters, some samples from the story and one of the checklists.
Click here to see the complete set of checklists or here to order a copy of the book
33 ideas, actions and tips to make your home stronger so your family is safer and your insurance premiums and repair costs are lower
17 strategic action points to help your family stay emotionally and spiritually strong – before, during and after a disaster strikes
14 simple stress busters for dealing with the storm’s aftermath so you and your family are more relaxed and better able to deal with everything you’ll have to deal with
14 simple money-saving tips when you make preparations for your home and family
44 ideas and items for your emergency supplies kit – for home and car
57 repair and recovery actions and ideas if you don’t dodge the bullet
25 things to know and do if you or a family member has special needs
26 pre- and post-storm actions for boat owners – in and out of the water
21 things to know and do to protect your pets whether you stay at home, take them with you if you have to evacuate or if you have to leave them behind
27 point plan to evacuate safely and successfully – whatever the reason
66 ideas, tips and actions for dealing with floods – preparing for them beforehand and recovering from them afterwards. Water is worse than wind
Plus additional notes, ideas, tips and actions on insurance, hiring contractors, using portable generators and much more
So there’s a few samples – funny and sad parts of the story and then some of the useful bits – save your life, save you heartache or just save you money. I really believe in this book – as a story and as a way to help. I firmly believe that whether you might face storm, flood, fire or any natural disaster, this book will be a boon – to you and your family. Thanks for reading.