I’ve never lived more than a few hours from the ocean, and I’ve spent the past eight years living less than 20 minutes from the sea. Surprisingly, despite living in the south, I’ve experienced more snow and ice storms than hurricanes. I like big weather events, so I was actually pretty excited when I saw Matthew’s cone of uncertainty (sounds spooky, doesn’t it?). But being that I’m somehow cursed or lucky, whenever I’m anywhere, the weather is always just so very mild and nice. For example, when I lived abroad in Russia, in a place that’s on the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, I saw two inches of snow. And I lived there in the winter.
So, naturally, I just assumed Matthew would pass by.
But by Tuesday afternoon—amid rumors of evacuations, my school closing, bald eagles descending from the sky and lifting the most patriotic students to safety—it was looking more like the hurricane was coming.
My boyfriend and I didn’t evacuate for a number of reasons. Our biggest concern was whether or not the roof of our apartment would get ripped off, but hey, shit happens, and it’s an apartment so, you know… Who cares?
Since we had decided to stay, we thought it would be wise to stock up on some supplies. To help other people who may find themselves in the midst of a hurricane one day, here’s a helpful list of exactly how to prepare yourself.
If you’re evacuating, make sure you leave right when everyone else is leaving.
I can’t stress this enough. Even if the governor plans to flip the highway lanes later to alleviate traffic, don’t wait for that to happen. Just get in your car, and get on the highway. I find that it helps if you pretend the hurricane is coming right now!
That’ll light a fire under your ass. And if you have small kids, you can stun them into a frightened silence by screaming at them to hurry up because, if they don’t, the storm will surely get them. You get hurricane survival bonus points if your kids can’t go the rest of their lives without bursting into hysterics whenever they hear the word “hurricane.”
If you’re not evacuating, make sure you buy at least 40 cases of water.
Forty is the minimum for a single person. I know the Red Cross website says “one gallon per person, per day,” but you want to make sure you’re prepared for the end of days. Don’t feel bad if there’s a family of five or six who needs water, but is unable to buy any due to shortages. Just remember not to think about this same family when, in 2025, you’re still drinking your emergency supply of water.
Some people might say that you should just buy enough water for the number of people in your household—eight bottles of water is a gallon and a case has three gallons—but those words sound like they belong to someone who doesn’t live through the first two seasons of the “Walking Dead.” So, in short, buy water in such disgusting excess, other people go without.
For reasons I don’t know, bread is the most emergency-worthy food, so buy a fuck-ton.
Remember those forty cases of water you purchased? Well, you’re gonna be washing down a lot of bread with it. I know it might seem wiser to purchase canned goods—particularly things like tuna, which tastes suspiciously like Fancy Feast no matter what you do to it—but, you know, bread. Sure, a loaf of bread is $2 and some change and a can of beans is less than a dollar, but since you’ve already sank $100 on bottled water, why not sink another $100 on bread? In fact, don’t buy anything except bread. Don’t even bother with spreads. You’re buying to survive, which takes instant precedence over someone who wants to use bread for recreational purposes.
Expert Hurricane Survivalist Tip: If you have a Merita or Sunbeam or TastyKake outlet, buy your bread from there. Remember: Snack cakes, donuts and brownies are considered bread. And don’t be discouraged by the guy buying 100 loaves of bread with a $50 bill that the cashier can’t take because the business doesn’t accept bills larger than $20—one day, you’ll reach his level of hurricane-survival expertness.
Board up your windows with plywood. Make sure to take zero measurements.
Lowe’s and Home Depot are both good places to pick up plywood. Find wood that’s slightly thicker than a quarter-inch (it’ll be thick enough to protect the window, but thin enough to hang with just two deck nails). At both stores, there are people in the back who will cut the wood for you.
I cannot stress this next part enough: Make sure—absolutely do not leave your home without doing this—make sure you don’t measure or count your windows. That way, when you go to buy plywood, you can just take a stack of 30 boards. That’s probably enough wood to cover two or three median-income houses—houses that now won’t be covered because you’ve taken an excess supply of plywood—but you won’t know that until after the hurricane has passed and you’ve got 20 sheets of shitty, too-thin-to-do-anything-with plywood.
When you go to cut your wood, the men will ask you for measurements. Just tell them your windows are big. Make them do most of the work in figuring out where to cut because they’re getting paid to do this crap anyway. Yeah, the line might be seven people deep and those people also need their wood cut, but make sure your turn moves slowly, painfully and with as much talking as possible between you and the guy chopping wood. Really get on his nerves so he can take it out on the next person in line.
Expert Hurricane Survivalist Tip: If you have a significant other or family member who questions everything you say or do, bring them. They’re sure to double the length of time it takes to cut the wood.
When the power goes out and the rain stops, immediately go outside to take post-hurricane photos and bitch to your neighbors.
I know it’s still scary windy, but go on out there! The rain has stopped, so you won’t get wet. You may get swept away by a strong gust of wind, but that’ll just keep you extra dry.
If your power has been out for more than two hours, you have the right to walk outside, use the last of your battery life to take post-storm photos (i.e. lots of selfies in front of broken stuff and dark clouds) for Instagram or whatever, and then loudly bitch about the power being out to the other people who’re walking around. After all, the power is out, so everyone in your neighborhood will be outside, bitching.
When the storm is over, talk constantly about how the storm wasn’t that bad and everyone who evacuated was stupid for doing so.
Everything looks better in hindsight, right? Well, except those 40 cases of water you didn’t touch, your 20 bags of bread that won’t all fit in the freezer (and, oh yeah, you don’t even really like bread that much) and all that shitty plywood. But hey, at least when the next hurricane hits, you’ll be ready (assuming Charleston doesn’t have another 30 year interval between hurricanes).
If you did evacuate, plan to return as soon as the storm ends. Don’t wait for some politician to tell you to come back.
Yeah, the winds might be gusting at 60-70 miles per hour, but you want to make sure you get stuck in that post-evacuation traffic. Since some of your friends probably didn’t evacuate and since most of them probably haven’t died, you’ll need a talking point. Draw attention away from how bad the storm supposedly wasn’t by talking about how a four hour trip ended up taking over 16. (“And we drove 30 the whole way!” Don’t forget to say something like that.)
For those of you who do have emergency supplies left over, don’t be afraid to share them with people still stuck in shelters or still without water/power. Once the storm passes, you can score extra hurricane survival points by pretending to be super charitable. They’ll never know you’re really just trying to offload eight lifetimes worth of bread and water.