How (and why) I’m Building a Hurricane Emergency Kit

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Bluffton, SC –

It was 11 months ago today, October 7, 2016, that Hurricane Matthew came ashore and cut a devastating path across my adopted Lowcountry home.

I decided to weather the storm at a friends house in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia.

The BOOM, SNAP, CRASH of 11 massive Georgia Pines fell overnight. One crushed a car and sent me scurrying from my bed.

I awoke before dawn huddled under a blanket near the fireplace, which I’d figured was the strongest structure in the house.

After cutting ourselves out of the neighborhood I drove from Tybee Island, through Savannah and Bluffton to Hilton Head Island.

During the 90 minute drive I passed thousands upon thousands of fallen trees on Hilton Head and Wilmington Island and found smaller structures torn to shreds on Tybee Island.

Our friends had their homes flood at The Farm, in Palmetto Hall and Hilton Head Plantation.

Power outages, road closures, storm damage, debris and tarps on rooftops seemed to be everywhere.

The pier that used to extend from the Quarterdeck toward Daufuskie Island was completely destroyed, its remnants strewn across Harbourtown’s famed 18th green.

Today, Hurricane Irma is churning its determined path toward the U.S. coast, with an estimated 16 million residents in its path.

Unlike last year, when many neighbors were convinced that the storm path would turn, residents are working to secure yard furniture, filling gas tanks and making evacuation plans to get family and pets away from the coast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests the public plan ahead of a hurricane and pack an emergency kit for at least the first 72 hours after a diaster.

These kits should combine basic staples (food, water) with supplies reflecting your family’s unique needs, such medications or baby formula.

15 Things Every Hurricane Emergency Kit Needs

  1. Important documents – Social security cards, insurance documents, bank account information, medical documents and other information should be kept in a water-proofed container. Mementos and photo albums should be secured and water-proofed.

  2. Extra Cash – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods of time following a storm. Emergency officials recommend people have cash readily available in the form of small bills.

  3. Stay connected! – Don’t forget your Cellphone with a portable charger. * A battery backup or a solar charger can be useful during hurricanes. FEMA officials are reporting this morning that they plan to close roads and provide updates on Google Maps in realtime before, during and after the storm.

  4. Water – Officials suggest you have at least 1 gallon of water daily per person for a period of three to seven days.

Photographs from Hurricane Matthew, October 7, 2016

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Harbourtown Lighthouse Pier destroyed, remains strewn on 18th green. – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

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11 massive Georgia Pines were felled by a tornado that hit the Forest Hills neighborhood where I weathered the storm – Savannah, Georgia (Photograph by Chris Katon)

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