Preparingfor

IS THERE A HURRICANE COMING?!

So how are you going to KNOW when there’s a hurricane coming? Around here, my Haitian friends usually think there’s one coming when there isn’t, and when there is, they don’t believe me. (If only they knew the story of the boy who cried wolf…sigh.) So maybe don’t rely on the radio.

If you’re social media savvy, you can follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter for the Atlantic Outlook or the Pacific Outlook. They also have a Facebook page (which I recently found out is “so over” among the young people. Who knew.). If you’re in Asia, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center might be more helpful.  The National Weather Service for the United States also monitors worldwide weather systems. Not to be outdone, apparently NASA had to get in on that, too, and their site is also worldwide. At any rate, if you hear something and you’re trying to confirm it, you can always search hashtags on Twitter: #hurricane #haiti for example. Google News also allows you to set up news alerts, so you could set up something there to get certain words or phrases (“Hurricane,” “Tropical storm,” “we’re all going to die”) sent to your news page. (Sidenote: the National Hurricane Center used to send out emails, but because of budget cuts, they had to stop. I’d like to know how much money that saved. Really.)

If you’re registered with your embassy, they may also sending you a warning, but in my experience, they tend to be a bit late in coming. (By the way, Americans, you should register with the State Department. It doesn’t hurt, and sometimes, you get helpful information.)

SO, THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING!?

Stay calm, darlin’. Deep breaths. Remember: BFFS. First, reach out to your boss. Find out if they need your help in preparing (assuming your own home is prepared). They may want to evacuate you or they may not be aware of what’s coming. Next, reach out to your family and friends. Let them know that you’re aware of what’s happening and ask for prayer. Well-meaning people may start coming out of the woodwork to let you know about IMPENDING DANGER, because let’s face it, we all love a good crisis when it’s happening to someone else. Lastly, but not leastly, reach out to your supporters. This is easily done if you have MailChimp or ConstantContact or a Facebook group. You could write up a template if you’re worried about needing to write something on the fly. Let them know that you may be out of contact for a while and that they shouldn’t worry if they can’t get a hold of you.

Thankfully, these things don’t usually come on suddenly, right? You usually get some pretty good warning. So that gives you a chance to make sure your phone is charged! If you have a generator, make sure you’ve got fuel so you can keep your phones charged. You might also consider getting a small solar phone charger. It’ll be overcast for a few days after the storm passes, but you can still charge it before it hits and save it. You can also find phone chargers that are powered by regular batteries now. What will they think of next?

A WAY TO DISSIPATE HURRICANES!?

Good point, mama.

Having a communication plan can help, too. For our family, if I can’t get a hold of David and I can’t get home, I’m supposed to head to J’s house, and he knows that’s where he’s supposed to start looking for me. Most of my other coworkers live near me, so we picked someone across town.

After a storm of any kind, phone service is usually jammed with people trying to call their loved ones and figure out what’s going on. A short text like “I M OK R U?” may get through better than a long one detailing where you are, what the wind speed was, and how many chickens you saw getting swept down the street. Phone calls will likely be difficult or impossible unless you have a satellite phone. Even then, you may get interference from the weather itself. If you can get the internet (because you charged up that phone, right?), you could also use WhatsApp or Messenger or even Snapchat, if you’re with a whippersnapper or if you’re an exceptionally cool mom. After Hurricane Matthew here in Haiti, Facebook also had a way to “check in” and let people know you were safe.

BUT WHAT IF I’M NOT!?

Mama, have faith in your organization and in your God. Neither one is going to leave you stranded, right? That’s what the emergency box is for. Hug your family, make some cocoa, curl up with a good book. Even the longest night ends eventually.

Fun times, eh?

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