Friday, July 25, 2008

Hurricane Preparedness?

After posting a serious entry on Hurricane Katrina's aftereffects earlier this week (Katrina Tattoos), I'm going for the funnybone now.

A friend who lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast sent me the following humorous e-mail. (Her hometown of Pascagoula was devastated by Katrina.)

This is a witty sendup of the many "hurricane preparedness" tip sheets distributed this time of year. It's going around the Internet via e-mail, with nothing to identify the original author, so I assume it's not subject to copyright protection and reprint it in its entirety.

Special Message from the Gulf Coast FEMA Office
Subject: Hurricane Preparedness 2008

To ex-Gulf Coastians, present Coastians, and future Coastians or those who know a Coastian: Hurricane season is upon us. It begins June 1 and ends November 30.

Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Gulf of Mexico and making two basic meteorological points:
  1. There is no need to panic.
  2. We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be on the Gulf Coast. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one."

Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here on the Coast.

We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:


If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:
  1. It is reasonably well-built, and
  2. It is located in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, if your home is located on the Coast, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place.

So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since Hurricane Katrina, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.


Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and -- if it's a major hurricane -- all the toilets.

There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:
  • Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make them yourself, they will fall off.
  • Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.
  • Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.


These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska.


As the hurricane approaches,check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc. You should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Bay St. Louis, Gautier, Pascagoula, Waveland, live in a low-lying area.)

The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.


If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! Gulf Coast tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of Spam.

In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:
  • About 23 flashlights.
  • At least $167 worth of batteries that, when the power goes out, turn out to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
  • Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for. It's tradition, so GET some!)
  • A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
  • A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)
  • A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Katrina; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)
  • $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the Gulf and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the Gulf.

Good luck and remember: It's great living in paradise! Those of you who aren't here yet, you should come.


Once again, I can't take credit for this clever parody. Kudos to the Unknown Wit who composed it.


Shauna Roberts said...

I laughed throughout this one, which hadn't come my way yet. Thanks for posting.

Remember when we all were supposed to buy masking tape? When we sold our house, some windows still had masking tape marks from our early years in NOLA.

Lana Gramlich said...

The key issue in all of these points have been said; No one leaves/does anything, or if they do it's last minute. I don't understand the rationale, personally. I've never been stuck in traffic while evacuating (2x now,) primarily because we leave at least a day in advance of landfall. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, really. I'm bewildered by most New Orleanians, I must admit.

Charles Gramlich said...

LOL. I had a good time laughing through this one. especially the knife strapped to your leg and the raw chicken for the alligators.

cs harris said...

Thanks for the laugh!

Rae Ann Parker said...

Here's hoping those hurricane supplies stay in the box (or the car trunk) this season.

Steve Malley said...

Total beverage alert. My jaw might be stuck in this smiling position!

Stewart Sternberg said...

I'm curious. What would you say are the biggest changes wrought to you and the people in your realm of contact by Katrina. I mean, would you say you are more cynical of government? More appreciative of people around you? Do you think that people are prepared for another hurricane? Have they somehow come together, or have they gone their ways since the event? Just thinking out loud here.

Barbara Martin said...

Good laugh, thanks, from an area not likely to have hurricanes (except Hazel).

In case you are wondering, bleach is to disinfect any drinking water.

Sphinx Ink said...

SHAUNA, glad it gave you a laugh. Considering all the hassles you and Dave went through trying to put your house and life back together, it's a good sign when you can appreciate hurricane humor. I'm glad you've found a safe haven in California, far from any danger of flooding.

LANA, the wait-til-the-last-minute syndrome comes from having lived through many hurricanes--seen them veer away as they approached landfall, or collapse into tropical storms as they came ashore, etc., etc. Many of us never evacuated until recent years. (Katrina was only the second time I ever evacuated for a hurricane. The time before was one a couple of years before Katrina, that turned out to be a bust.) Then, too, many of us have ingrained procrastination tendencies. I suspect my own procrastination is a form of gambling--gambling with time instead of money. (I seldom gamble with money.)

CHARLES, figures you'd like those two items!

CS, glad you like the joke. You certainly need a few good laughs, after all the headaches (backaches, bodyaches, wallet aches, etc.) Katrina put you through.

RAE ANN, may your words go to the ears of the Universe and protect us.

STEVE, thanks...small recompense for the many smiles I've had when reading your blog.

STEWART, thanks for commenting. Your questions are good--good enough that I think I'll use them as basis for a blog entry soon.

BARBARA, thanks for commenting. Also for noting the intended use for the bleach, for those who may have wondered about it. I myself have never had to purify water that way, but it's good to know how to do it, eh?

Shauna Roberts said...

If I couldn't find something to laugh at in the disasters I've gone through, I'd be sunk. Besides, its all grist for the writing mill.