Submitted November 5, 2008

That old motor home shook, rattled and rolled

Tom,

In answer to your question, "Am I a hurricane survivor?", the answer is yes. My first hurricane experience was "Andrew", in 1992, I believe. I was recently retired, and bought a 31 foot" Titon" Motor Home, so that I would no longer have to endure the nasty cold weather in Ohio, my home state. Lucky for me, I was on Big Pine Key, in the Florida Keys, and we were on the edge of Andrew. To say the whole house shook is a miss statement . There were 80 MPH winds gusting, and that old motor home shook rattled and rolled.  We were in knee deep in water on the outside, but dry inside, and to say it wasn't worrisome, would be a bald lie. But the sun came out the next day.

After the storm was over, we were able to survey the damage, and again lucky for me, there was very little. A hole was punched in the side of the motor home where a branch hit it while blowing by, and I had debris on the roof, but no structural damage. As you know, motor homes have generators, so while all were without electricity around us, we had it made in the shade, air conditioning and cold refrigerator. I had plenty of gasoline in the tanks to last us until the electric came back on, about two weeks. Mind you I did not run the generator constantly, but kept it fairly comfortable in side during the hot part of the days.

I bought here, in Navarre Florida, in late Sept. of 1995, just in time for Hurricane Opal, on Oct. 4, 1995.  We were still in Ohio when that one hit, right here in Navarre, but the mobile home we bought, (Doublewide) " 24  X  50" had no damage, other than screens torn off by the wind, on a 10 X 20 foot porch. Of course lots of tree damage, but no home damage. 

It is impossible for me to remember the names of all the hurricanes that have hit this part of the state since we moved in here. We've been through four or five, that I can remember, and if the storm was above a category three, we packed a few bags, put what valuables we can carry in the car, and went to other parts of the country. Once to Nashville, once to Birmingham Alabama, and once to St Augustine Florida, and a couple of them we just sat here and rode out.

The water and electricity go off. That means we must have a supply of clean water.  We drink bottled water, but cook with water we have saved, in five gallon containers, one gallon containers and one liter bottles. One cannot have too much water. I have several pans, skillets, and a large pot. Three gas grills, plus a white gas, two burner stove. Plus I keep extra full gas bottles for the grills. As long as our mobile home is standing, we have a place to stay. I have a 5700 watt generator, to keep the fridge running, and a couple of lights and fans, to at least stir the hot air, and see by.  Summer in Florida is hot, by hot. I keep plenty of gasoline in six gallon containers, to run the generator, and of course I have the car and truck gas tanks full, before gasoline becomes a scarce item. It always does. One must plan a little ahead.  Never wait till the last minute. We keep food in storage coolers, on ice, along with our fridge, and also keep dry food and canned food ready for emergencies.

I guess, the only thing we miss during a black out, is the air conditioning in the house, and the television. I'm an old camper, and could survive anywhere if need be, but here at home, I keep everything we need ready, just in case. Oh, and yes, a two weeks supply of my favorite beer stays on ice also. I'm 75 years old, and I like to be somewhat comfortable. Plus, when we leave town, my Harley Davidson motorcycle in on a trailer right behind me. I won't leave my baby.

Bill Kemper

A Note from Survival Authority, Tom Sciacca of CampingSurvival.com:

"I'm an old camper". This is a great point. Not all of us are campers and many people are repulsed by the idea of camping. But camping experience and gear can make the difference between hard living and panic or comfortable living in a post disaster situation. Try Googling "Camping Gear Checklist" to get some good ideas of what you need when you don't have everything your take for granted on a daily basis.

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