How do I…prepare for a hurricane? (Part 2: Communication)



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.)


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?


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.


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?

How do I…prepare for a hurricane? (Part 1: Food) 


Happy almost June, ladies! Around these parts, that means the start of hurricane season. And as we all know, the second best time to prepare for a hurricane is when there isn’t one coming. You don’t want to be fighting with your neighbor over the last can of spam, for so many reasons.

I used to seriously panic over storms and hurricanes…and maybe I still do, a little bit. But when I know I’m not going to run out of toilet paper, that settles my heart a bit. Mama’s got needs, right? 

So if you need help getting an emergency box started, here’s what was in mine when I went through it this week:

  • Toilet paper (I wasn’t joking)
  • Shelf-stable yogurt
  • A radio
  • Peanut butter
  • Salt
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Gatorade
  • Can opener
  • Sugar
  • Tuna
  • Mayo
  • Matches
  • Chicken boullion cubes
  • Floor cleaner
  • Face masks
  • Wet wipes
  • Dish soap
  • Chickpeas
  • Spaghetti
  • Dust masks
  • Deet
  • Emergency poncho
  • Laundry detergent
  • Honey
  • Peanuts
  • Coconut flour
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cheese wedges
  • Salsa
  • Applesauce
  • Oatmeal
  • Gallon size ziploc bags
  • Yeast

So you may have noticed a few odd things in here: the dust masks are because post-earthquake, the air was filled with concrete dust. The honey and coconut flour are for gluten-free cooking, because that’s how we eat. Governments and organizations often recommend things like spam…but if we don’t eat that normally, I find it hard to believe that my kids are suddenly going to be okay with that, even in an emergency.

Here’s some things I thought my box was lacking:

  • Dry milk
  • Dried mango
  • Dried zucchini
  • Cornmeal
  • Oil of some kind
  • Lemon juice
  • Popcorn
  • Red lentils
  • A bar of soap
  • Vitamins
  • Rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Canned soup
  • Basic spices
  • Plantain chips
  • Hard candy
  • Phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • Trash bags
  • First aid kit
  • Bleach

I endeavor to make this a resource I could take with me in the event of a land evacuation or pass to a Haitian friend in need. After the earthquake, the pilots ended up living communally and at the airport; things like a can opener would be pretty helpful in that case, I’d imagine. That being said, I try to keep lots of dry beans and such on hand anyway.

Here’s a printable list for grocery shopping or whatnot: Emergency Box Supplies. Remember, this is my list; if your family won’t eat this stuff, having a box of food my family likes is pointless, right? So tailor it to yours. I also put a place to note the expiration date, so you can check and see what should be replaced or eaten before it goes bad.

These resources might be useful to you as well: (Although all the parts about insurance coverage probably aren’t going to apply to you…)

Helpful, I hope? Love you, mamas. You’ve got this!