Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy at peak intensity near Jamaica and Cuba on October 25
Hurricane Sandy at peak intensity (Category 3) near Jamaica and Cuba on October 25

Once when I was young, my dad very seriously said to me, “Son, there’s a hurricane coming, and I’m not sure we will survive.” In a near panic, I ran to my mom and said, “Mom, Mom, did you hear there’s a hurricane coming?”

Shocked, she said, “Where did you hear that?” “Well, Dad told me,” I replied. She started laughing, “Oh, my, don’t worry about that Justin, your dad calls your Grandmother, “The Hurricane.”

As I grew older, I began to understand why Dad called his mother-in-law “The Hurricane.” While I love my grandmother to death, she does seem to have a, how shall I say it, turbulent air about her.

The family joke became even more strikingly comical when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. Yep, that’s her name — Sandy.

What is A Hurricane?

By definition, a hurricane is a storm with a violent wind, in particular, a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean. That’s the simple answer. However, scientifically, a hurricane is a wind of force 12 on the Beaufort scale (equal to or exceeding 64 knots or 74 mph).

SIDE NOTE: Listen, you crusty-old-men, I don’t want to hear about how you can also pass a wind of force 12 on the Beaufort scale. You just stay out of the comments section. Okay! We’ve got ladies her too!

A Costly and Deadly Natural Disaster

When Hurricane Sandy hit, it became the second costliest hurricane of all time and the most deadly and destructive of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Sandy caused at least $75 billion dollars in damage and killed at least 233 people.

Of course, Hurricane Katrina was the most financially devastating natural disaster to hit the United States. It was also one of the five deadliest hurricanes of all time. In total, Katrina killed at least 1,245 people and caused an estimated $108 billion dollars in property damage. Ouch!

So, If you live in an area that is prone to Hurricanes, you NEED TO PREPARE NOW!

According to NOAA, “many people are suffering from hurricane amnesia in the forms of complacency, denial, and inexperience.” Why? Because it has been over a decade since a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane has hit the US. They warn, “This remarkable hurricane streak is going to end.”

So, what can you do to prepare?

Here are 6 Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane

One: Determine Your Risk and Stay Informed

The best tool you can use to determine hurricane risk in your area is the Historical Hurricane Tracker from the NOAA. With this interactive tool, you can enter your address and see historical hurricane tracks. When I did this, I found that I presently sit smack dab in the middle of the path of 59 past hurricanes. (See graphic below)


Stay informed by following the hurricane watches and warnings issued by the NOAA either online or on TV and Radio. Know the difference between a watch and a warning.

A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means “be on guard!” During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action – monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.

A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent – it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) – or it is about to occur at any moment. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.

Two: Develop an Evacuation Plan

There is no better plan than to get the heck out of Dodge while you still can. So, if you are in an area, or a home, where it is unsafe to ride out a hurricane, don’t hesitate, ruminate, bloviate, excoriate, dissipate, or most importantly wait until it’s too late to evacuate!

Plan a bug-out location. Preferably, this location will be with an amicable friend, or relative, and not with your Aunt Agatha who lives in a trailer with 34 cats and 17 gerbils. Most likely, your pets will not find it easy to get along with so many other animals.

catThree: Horde Supplies

Just click here right now, and go to Amazon and buy that, um, thing, yeah, it’s a thing that will save your life when the SHTF. No, seriously, wait, no don’t click on that. NO! DON’T! Oh, man, I’m embarrassed now.

It is likely that you may not have electricity or other services for awhile, and most likely you will not be able to rely on local stores either, so stock up in advance.

Here’s a list of items to secure.

  • Food and Water. All joking aside, be sure to have enough food and water for at least a week. I highly recommend this dehydrated option from Wise, but of course, canned goods will work well too. Store at least a gallon per person per day. Blue Can or Datrex Foil Pouches are excellent options
  • Propane stove or other means of boiling water and cooking
  • LanternStreamlight makes an incredible lantern that is well priced.
  • Fill prescriptions and have medications on hand. The last thing you want is to have to face TEOTWAWKI without pain meds. Secure at least (7-day supply) and other medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Radio. If you don’t have a NOAA radio by now, well, you deserve what’s coming. Listen, just don’t tell anybody, go pick up this NOAA Weather Radio with built in solar charger and flashlight, and I won’t tell anyone. It will be our secret. I promise.
  • Multi-purpose tool – I like the Leatherman Wave.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items such as a Covered bucket. Check out the Luggable Loo. It features a seat lid which just might save your hiney from some unnecessary pain.
  • Batteries, phone chargers. Obviously you need your flashlight to work, and of course, you have to have your phone. You wouldn’t want to miss a tweet from Justin Beiber, now would you? Yep, he has over 92 million followers on Twitter. Can you believe that? Only Katy Perry has more. Maybe we need a hurricane — just kidding.
  • Gas. Oh, my goodness, what a travesty it would be to get stuck in your vehicle on the freeway with a bunch of other people who are starting to freak out — all because you didn’t get gas when you could. Think ahead!
  • Blankets, pillows, etc.
  • First aid kit – I highly recommend the Elite fully stocked GI issue medic kit bag.
  • First Aid ManualI recommend the American Red Cross Handbook.
  • Toiletries.
  • Keep your Emergency Vehicle Kit Stocked. See our article on “How to Build the Ultimate Survival Kit: with Checklist to build your kit.
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency  blanket
  • Map(s) of the area.
  • Baby supplies (bottles,  formula,   baby food, diapers).
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash,  ID, food, carrier, bowl).
  • Tools/ supplies for securing your home.
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys.
  • Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes.
  • Raingear.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • Camera for photos of the damage.
  • Create a bug-out-binder. A bug-out-binder is a place where you keep copies (originals if necessary) of all of your relevant documents. I recommend a sturdy, zippable binder like the C-Line expandable binder for this — of course; you can use whatever suits you best. Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too.Quick tip: In addition to a bug-out-binder, create a secondary backup binder at a separate location. Also, scan, or photograph, your documents and save them to a USB flash drive. Make backups of the flash drive too. You can download our bug-out Binder checklist here.

Four: Get an Insurance Checkup

Most people don’t know that standard insurance does not cover flood damage. Don’t be most people, call your insurance agent and make sure you have enough insurance to cover your home, boat, vehicles, and valuable comic book collection. Think I am kidding about the comic books? Did you know that there have been comic books that have sold for more than a $1 million dollars? Crazy eh? Here’s one that is selling on Amazon for $7995.

You can get more info about flood insurance at

Five: Prepare Your Home

If you plan to ride it out come hell or high water, then please be sure to take these steps to strengthen your home:

  • Trim Trees.
  • Purchase approved windows coverings.
  • Remove loose items that might inadvertently become unmanned missiles in a storm.
  • Secure all doors.
  • Store your vehicle in a safe location.
  • Plan to board up doors and windows if necessary. Be sure to purchase plywood that is 5/8 inch or greater, exterior grade (CDX).
  • Purchase a quality generator.
  • If possible have your home custom built from kevlar. (Okay, just kidding)


Six: Be Neighborly

There’s nothing that will bring neighbors together like a good disaster. But why wait until then. Reach out. Try to get your neighbors to prepare and learn from each other. Discover what skills your neighbors have and try to lend a helping hand to those in need. You never know when you might need the assistance of others.

Wrapping Up

While hurricanes are among the most devastating and powerful of natural disasters, there are a lot of things that you can do now to prepare. Be proactive and prepare now!

Press on my friends!

Please join in the discussion and leave a comment. Do you have any additional recommendations? Did I miss something? I want to hear about it!

BACK TO INDEX: The Big List of Nasty Disasters and How to Prepare One

  • Show Comments

  • BubbyBob

    Live in the upper Midwest

    • Justin Cummins

      Yes sir! That will work.

  • Peaches

    Survived Rita, prep even more after learning family will come running.

    • Justin Cummins

      Ah, there’s a Cousin Eddy in every family.

  • chuck

    Have a Plan with your neighbors to defend yourselves. I suggest a .45 along with a 12 guage. Having a long rifle is a smart choice also. The media was very lax in reporting all the Looting, Rapes and other criminal activity that happened in Sandy and Katrina.

    • Justin Cummins

      Thank you, Chuck. Good word on working with neighbors. If you live in a place where you can not work with your neighbors for mutual assistance, it is probably best to start working toward relocation.

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