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We are eagerly keeping an eye on the Weather Channel and thinking of our friends along Eastern Florida. As Floridians we have been through many hurricanes, but it is a completely different experience when you are a Full-Time RVer. In 2004, we dealt with Hurricanes Jean and Francis only weeks apart. Hurricane Jean was our first experience as RVers and we evacuated our rig and sought shelter. After experiencing shelter conditions, we rode out Hurricane Jean at the RV resort, choosing to stay in the recreation building with a handful of other RVers. We saw first-hand the power of Mother Nature. For more information on dealing with disasters while RVing, check out my book, On the Road to Disaster.

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Severe weather shouldn’t be taken lightly in a recreational vehicle. If placed in a situation to evacuate your RV – either from a weather alert warning or a mandatory evacuation order – there are a few basic things to keep in a central location where they can be accessed quickly.

  • Personal identification
  • Emergency and contact information
  • All monies
  • Medicines needed
  • Eyeglasses or hearing aids
  • Insurance papers
  • Camera
  • Cell phone, charger and spare batteries
  • Flash/thumb drives with important files or photos
  • Computer with wireless access (notebook, tablet)
  • Two days clothing
  • First aid and toiletry kits
  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Energy bars or snacks
  • Canned meat/fruit
  • Pet food
  • Pet medication

If you know you are going into an area that has a history of hurricanes, tornadoes or other severe weather, you should consider putting some emergency items in a plastic tote ahead of time – like flashlights and batteries. Make up a list (laminate and tape inside one of your RV cabinets) of items to grab in the event of an emergency evacuation. Have some canvas bags or backpacks handy for each family member to quickly place additional or last moment evacuation items in.

If you are asked by authorities to evacuate – do it! They know more about the current situation or conditions than you do.

WIND STORMS

Wind storms are not to be taken lightly in a RV. The damage from a storm can leave your area isolated for long periods, especially since most campground locations are outside main power grids. Preparation should be taken as soon as weather advisories go into effect.

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other Campers so that everyone is advised
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations
  • Speak to other Campers about leaving as a group for the shelter if the storm worsens before hitting your area
  • Tie down any furniture or obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Consider putting your slides in, especially if you have double slides in the back
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Purchase extra batteries for all your equipment
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks
  • Gather appropriate items and a shelter bag if you do need to evacuate
  • Prepare non-perishable foods that can be fixed quickly and not waste propane when the power goes out
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you may be without communication for a few days

If you decide to ride out the storm, keep your battery-operated radio handy. After the storm has passed and it is clear to go outside, check on your fellow Campers.  Remember only to call 911 if there is a life threatening emergency, as local lines will be busy.

TORNADOES AND HURRICANES

If your area is under a severe thunderstorm warning then conditions are favorable for tornadoes and you should prepare to seek shelter. If your area is under any tornado alert, then you must seek shelter quickly. In the unfortunate circumstance that your area is under a hurricane watch or warning, then you need to prepare to evacuate. Areas under hurricane watch still receive storm bands possible of generating tornadoes. Hurricanes alerts give you several days warning. As soon as the advisories go into effect, start preparing!

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other Campers
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations and evacuation routes
  • Speak to other Campers about leaving as a group for the local shelter
  • Obtain cash from the local ATM or bank as they will be shut down well before the hurricane hits
  • Purchase non-perishable foods that can be eaten from a can or pouch
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Put your slides in
  • Anchor down any obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Cover up anything outside that may get damaged from the rain and winds with new tarps (not used ones, they will shred quickly)
  • Tape a “X” with masking tape on all your windows as debris from the hurricane-force winds can shatter windows
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks (do not forget to label them with your name or campsite number)
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks and fill your water tank
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you will be evacuating and the name of the local shelter(s)
  • Gather appropriate items for your shelter stay

When the time comes, seek shelter! Material items can be replaced, lives cannot. After the storm is over and officials allow you to return, then begin to survey your damage. Many people do not realize that when there is a major power outage, gas and propane stations cannot pump without electricity. Cash is also a necessity as many stores will be cash-only until power is restored. Living in storm aftermath can be a very stressful time. Just be thankful for what you have and try to move forward.

FLOODS AND FIRES

If conditions in your area are favorable for flooding or wild fires, then you will possibly have to seek shelter quickly.  Make sure you take the appropriate precautions and locate the nearest evacuation route if you are able to leave with your RV. If officials ask you to gather a few items and leave your RV, then do it. Grab your evacuation kit and follow their instructions. Do not risk your life over your RV or vehicle. Sadly, we know of Campers who have tried and lost.

SEEKING SHELTER

Spending several days in a shelter is not easy and the conditions are not always favorable. As a visitor to the area you should be respectful. It is a horrifying experience for the locals – they are worried about losing their houses and livelihoods. When the storm is over, you can move on. Please do not rely on charitable organizations for food or other items. These organizations need to focus on those who have lost everything or those who have no means to obtain food or clothing. Take responsibility for your own family and allow the organizations to help those truly in need. Most shelters do not provide you with cots, blankets or food. Be respectful and do not drag in all your camping toys. Just take basic items you need, such as a modest camping chair, sleeping bag, non-perishable food and your evacuation kit. If you go with other Campers, make arrangements to share some items to ease the burden.

My family and I have weathered hurricanes, wind storms, tornado alerts, a winter storm and the threat of wild fires in our RV. We have spent days at a shelter and lived weeks in storm aftermath. It is not always easy, yet with the proper preparation you can live to tell your own storm tales!

 

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rain Delay

We were planning on putting some major mileage in today, but Mother Nature had other plans. Flooding and severe storms in the region have us staying inside and watching the Travel Channel instead. The summer adventure will just have to wait a day… or two. 🙂

 

When they started forecasting snow on the local weather, I turned the TV off. We are in Florida, it doesn’t snow in Florida. It’s the Sunshine State, after all! And millions of Snowbirds flock here every winter to get away from the snowy North. So I thought those weather folks were just a little nuts.

Then the temperature dropped… and the rain came… the ice cold rain… and then it turned to sleet… and while we were sleeping, it turned to snow. Yes, snow in Florida. And it’s not melting… it’s staying around for a while according to our frozen thermometer. And everything is shut down for a couple of days because of icy conditions.

I sure hope that Groundhog comes popping out wearing a Speedo on February 2nd (Groundhog’s Day)! 😉

 

Watching the Weather Channel and seeing the States getting snow… oh, I remember what it’s like to winter camp as I sit here with my iced tea watching the pelicans drift by… 😉

Photo by S. Cooper ©

Photo by S. Cooper © Lake Silverado

With all this wet weather lately, I thought I’d share a photo from last year. We were at a campground in Alabama and were told we were on a “well-drained campsite”… imagine our surprise when we found our Chevy Silverado surrounded by water one morning. 

Photo by H.S. Cooper © STORMY HIGHWAY

Photo by H.S. Cooper © STORMY HIGHWAY

The highways were just a little stormy yesterday… So glad not to be on the road today with wind advisories and threats of rain, sleet and possible black ice!

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation while on the road, consider some pre-planning with your family before making those travel plans. For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © CHRISTMAS TORNADO

On Christmas afternoon we found ourselves in the midst of severe weather and potential tornadoes. Instead of watching holiday movies, all eyes were on the local weather!

The RV resort lacked adequate shelter facilities, so when the tornado warning went into effect, we grabbed our hardhats (I knew that souvenir hardhat from Hoover Dam would come in handy), a couple stiff pillows and flashlights, and then made a mad dash to the Chevy Silverado. We buckled ourselves in and drove to a low ditch-area near the park entrance. Moments later we saw that other Campers had the same idea.

Fortunately the storm passed quickly over the resort; however, a park less than two miles away had a tornado touch-down. Thankfully no one was injured but several homes were destroyed.

Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. Keeping alert of the weather and having a type of RV emergency plan can keep you and your family safe.

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper © RAINY FLORIDA DAY

Just a rainy Florida day… watching the Weather Channel and trying to figure out what Tropical Storm Isaac is going to do! If you RVing in an area that may be affected by this storm, please don’t take it lightly. Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. Monitor your weather alert radio for changing conditions and follow evacuation orders. Safe travels!

Weather, Weather Everywhere

Evacuation with the RV

Weathering the Storm

Preparing for Disaster

Photo by H.S. Cooper 2012

Photo taken by H.S. Cooper ©NO RAINBOW

Photo taken from the back window before the rain came!

On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper

From fires in the west to tropical storms in the east… this summer is providing extreme weather for those travelling and camping.

If you haven’t thought about what to do in an emergency situation, consider some pre-planning with your family before you head out on the road this season.

Although RVs can withstand moderate winds, they are not intended to be used for shelter in any type of severe storm. All Campers should invest in a NOAA weather radio or weather alert radio. A good one can be purchased for around $30 and in the event a storm Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information.

For more information on preparing for natural disasters, check out my book On the Road to Disaster by H.S. Cooper.

After a winter storm, the beach was littered with debris and driftwood. (WA)

We have winter camped in the Pacific Northwest and dealt with wind, snow and ice storms… but we never thought we would have to prepare ourselves for winter camping in Florida. With fluctuating  temperatures this season, we have had to watch for signs of excess moisture which can lead to mold and mildew.

Each closet and storage area has a Damp-Rid (http://www.damprid.com) container which is checked (drained and refilled, if needed) every two weeks. We have talked with other RVers who prefer to not have a “spill-able” container (lower half of the container collects water, while the top half or basket contains Damp-Rid flakes) and they prefer other methods, such as placing charcoal briquettes in a shallow pan or bowl.

Some folks prefer to use a dehumidifier. We don’t use one as we have heard so many stories against – from “sweating walls” to the chore of emptying it every day and even finding the space to place one.

If you find yourself with a moisture problem, you should evaluate your storage areas. Boxes draw moisture and eliminating those by placing items in sealed plastic containers or SpaceBags® (https://www.spacebag.com) will help. Also make sure your storage areas are not too crowded to allow some air flow. Inside storage closets that contain clothes or paperwork should be left cracked open while you are settled in an area.

Check around your windows for moisture. And if you have a roll of silver sunshade shoved into each window, you should keep an eye on those for mildew, especially around the edges.

Watch your humidity inside and either run your air condition when you can or crack open a window or vent to keep the humidity low.

If you are prepared for it, you can keep moisture under control before anything develops to “dampen” your winter camping experience.

After the winter "Southern Storm" that went through the SE states. (FL)

Several months ago a campground we usually stay at in Texas had river flooding. The sheriff came through and told folks that the river was quickly on the rise and they had to evacuate within the hour. What our friend told us still gives me chills… but basically it was as horrible as one could imagine and one man died trying to hook-up his rig before the water came.

That could have easily been us – any of us -whether you are a weekend camper, seasonal camper or a Full-Timer. After the initial shock of the news, we had a serious discussion of what we would do in a similar situation.

After some brain-storming, we made two scenarios. The first one being a “Grab and Go situation” where we have to evacuate with our tow and abandon the RV and the other being an emergency “rig evacuation” situation.

The first thing we did with each situation is make detailed lists. The lists have been printed out and I have laminated them and placed them on a metal ring. This way no matter how tense of situation (I certainly don’t promise to keep a level head in an emergency!) we know exactly what we are going to do and will not forget anything.

GRAB AND GO SITUATION

Our thought on a Grab and Go situation was that we would be able to pack our pickup truck with enough items to actually live out of the truck if we needed. Items like tarp and tape could make us a shelter either on the back of the truck or from the sides of the truck. Disaster involves everyone in an area and we would not want to completely rely on outside assistance or resources.

(This is just general information from the list as ours is rather specific/detailed. You can make yours as customize yours for your own needs.)

Gather these items first and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle:

Cell phone/Charger

Files/Important Documents/Safety or Lock Boxes

Medication (and health-related items, such as diabetic supplies, cane, eyeglasses, neck supports, etc…)

Purse/Valuable Jewelry

All Keys

Laptop Computer /Cords / Flash Drives

Food Kit* (and extra from pantry if time)

Med Kit*

Clothes Kit*

Bottled Water / Sodas / Juices

Flashlights / Batteries

Tool Kit

Area Maps

Camp Stove / Propane/ Cooking Kit

Bedding / Blankets / Pillows

Tarps / Masking or Duct Tape

Heavy Duty Raincoat / Boots (if needed in the situation)

* We have experienced winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires while being Full-Timers. So we actually have a food kit, med kit and clothes kit made up at all times. Our 3 kits actually consist of 2 medium totes. One is devoted to food supplies and the other is filled with medical and hygiene supplies and clothes. The clothes items (for 3 days) are stored inside the tote in Space Bags® (which I recommend to all Full-Timers) to save space and keep them weather-proof. I recommend travel-size items (such as toothpaste) in your kits to save space. Twice a year we remove our items to use and replace them with new items. We joke it’s time to “eat our rations”.

Prep camper second if there is adequate time:

(If the situation is hopeless and you know you will not be able to return to your camper or there won’t be anything left to salvage, such as a flood, then we plan to skip this and quickly evacuate)

Slides in (even if you have to skip securing items to get them)

Awning up (if down)

TV Antenna up (if down) or Satellite Dish (put away)

Appliances unplugged

A/C-Furnace Off

Propane values shut-off (don’t worry about a little food in the refrigerator – not worth it!)

Unplugged and unhooked outside (electric, sewer, cable)

Outside compartments locked

Outside stuff of value placed inside (if some type of storm, secure all outside items if adequate time)

RIG EVACUATION SITUATION

Our thought on a Rig Evacuation situation was that we would be able to hook-up our rig and leave in a short period of time; however, we wanted to ensure our “Grab and Go” items were packed in the truck in case there was a problem and we needed to unhook rapidly later in the evacuation (such as a blocked road or a structural/mechanical problem).

We would first gather items from the Grab and Go list and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle. Then we would prep the camper as we normally would, unless there was not adequate time. If time was limited, we would not worry about how items were packed in the cupboards (like wrapped dishes, etc.) If the situation was extremely urgent, once our slides were in we would just reinforce our cupboard pulls with duct tape (we’d worry about the mess later!) and loose items would be placed on the beds or sofa.

We figured that in an extreme situation, we could be out with our rig in thirty minutes. A rather frantic thirty minutes, but with the list and pre-made kits, we could do it.

It took us awhile to think about this and I can’t imagine trying to think about what to do and take in a hurried situation! I recommend anyone who may find themselves in an evacuation situation to take at least a few minutes with your family / traveling companions to think about what you would do. Those extra minutes could possible save a life.

Rest Areas are a much needed break after several hours on the highway. They provide adequate parking, restrooms, and, well, a place to rest for an hour or two. And those which offer Welcome Centers can also save you time and money.

Freebies  – Most Welcome Centers offer free coffee, tea or juice. Some even offer in-season fruit or fresh popcorn.

Coupons  –  Many lodging and attractions will offer special discounts, special deals or even “free gift” coupons in  brochures, coupon booklets and travel magazines. Ask at the information desk for additional coupon books they may have behind the counter. If you are an RVer, ask if their state has a camping guide. For example, Texas offers a camping guide with discount card (Texas Saver  or “T.A.C.O.”card) which offers 10-15% off daily rates at many Texas and New Mexico campgrounds.

Maps – Not all of us depend on GPS – especially those who have had to back their RV down a mountain road. A road atlas is great, but doesn’t always provide enough detail. So ask at the information desk for a free map. Most Welcome Centers will ask that you sign the guest register or provide your home state and travel destination for a map.

Updates – A few minutes viewing the Welcome Center’s construction map can save you a great deal of time and aggravation. If the Center doesn’t have a construction map, they may have a wall chart or list of road work and delays posted. At the very least they should have a website, local radio station or a phone number you can call for updates. And if there is severe weather in the forecast, ask at the information desk for local updates. Many larger Welcome Centers have TVs in the lobby with the Weather Channel or CNN on. We have even hunkered down at them during severe storms (especially high winds and blinding rain) and changed our travel route around tropical storms.

Overnight Parking – Most have limited the parking time or banned overnight parking. However, those which haven’t can save you money on campground or dump station fees. Just remember to follow the RVer rules regarding Overnight Parking.  Do not put out your slides or awnings. You are parking, not camping. And if you Overnight, be alert and cautious. NEVER open your door. If someone knocks on your door, flip on your scare lights (if not already on) and open the closest window to the door. Ask the person at the door who they are and what they want. Even if they appear to be some sort of authority figure – ask them to hold up I.D.

And don’t forget to fill out a comment card or sign their guest book. Let them know what you thought of their facilities – especially if you appreciate it. Your comments may help keep it open for future travelers.

I’m still working on updating pages, photos, links and camp reviews… but wanted to share last Tuesday’s weather… freezing rain mixed with sleet and snow!

When we winter camped in Washington the standing weather forecast was “wait ten minutes and it’ll change.” In Texas the weather all comes down at once! 🙂

Flower

It’s Easter weekend and the campground is beginning to fill up with Weekenders and Day-users. Yesterday it reached 100 degrees (yes!) and I imagine the lure of the river and water activities will keep everyone cool this weekend – provided Mother Nature complies – they have anticipated some storms for Easter Sunday.

Male CardinalOne thing that always bothers me about weekend tenters is the neglect of nature during their camping trip. Many folks don’t hesitate to put their tents over a patch of wildflowers or crank up the radio so you can’t hear the birds and other sounds of nature. They leave behind litter and hazards to wildlife.

So before the lovely Spring blooms disappear and the birds went into hiding for the weekend, I snapped some photos. Enjoy!

Flower

FlowersFlowers

 

         

Flower

Heron After Easter Update: Yes, most of the lovely flowers are gone. Unfortunately one patch was even used as a dumping ground for ash/charcoal remains. Although Mother Nature must have a plan – they anticipate several days of rain which will bring out more flowers. The birds can be seen and heard now. Ah, nature has returned to the campground once again! 😉

The weather outside is frightful!
The weather outside is frightful!

This week we were planning several site-seeing trips in this region, unfortunately we find ourselves in a Winter Storm Watch for the next two days. Apparently Mother Nature says that  South Texas isn’t south enough to escape her winter grasp! 😉

The temperature has already started to drop and the wind gusts are rustling the slide awnings. So we’ve set the propane furnace, turned on a little ceramic heater and declared it a stay-indoors day!

Meanwhile our  camping neighbors are quickly trying to pack and head home. They weren’t prepared for such weather and decided they would spend their vacation in a warm house. The propane truck can be heard a few campsites down. Several of the Winter Texans staying here are in need of propane and with the weather changing, an empty tank is not advised. I imagine as the wind gust escalate, we’ll find more Campers pulling in to hunker down for a day or two. It is difficult to drive a RV during windy and stormy conditions.

Only those who have a purpose to be in this weather are outside. The rest of us are sitting in our RVs and catching up on projects, reading or watching television. We are all just making the most of the situation.

I’ve been updating state photos on THE MODERN NOMAD and scouting for places to visit on our journey eastward in a few weeks. It also makes me wonder where we will be at this time next year.

Last year at this time we were staying on the North Olympic Peninsula, and if I recall, on this very date, we were cold and wet. 😉 Pretty much a typical Washington winter!

Last year on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Last year on the North Olympic Peninsula.

 Location is a topic that we dwell on, especially at the holidays. I can tell you where I was at various holidays the last several years. Although don’t ask me what I had a breakfast yesterday!

But I am often reminded about the quotes prompting us to reflect on the road of life. They encourage us to remember that life is about the journey and not the destination.

And then I think of all the places we have been. All those rough roads and detours. Funny thing about the rough roads, they make you appreciate the smooth ones even more. And I don’t mind detours anymore (unless we have to back our rig out of one in the dark!) because we often found ourselves in a direction we never would have been. If you spend the journey weaving in-and-out of traffic or speeding along in the fast lane, you miss a great deal.

So who knows where we will be at this time next year. It doesn’t matter much though. What does matter is where we’ve been together. Although if I’m wet and cold, I may grumble a bit. 😉 

After a winter storm, the beach was littered with debris and driftwood. (WA)

The wonderful thing about RVs is that they are self-contained. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster to remind us that we need to be self-reliant as well.

            When we think of disasters, many think of natural ones. Yet most of us are just as likely to encounter some sort of major traffic or chemical incident. If placed in a situation to evacuate our RVs within minutes there are a few basic things to keep in a central location where they can be accessed quickly.

  • Personal identification
  • Emergency and contact information
  • All monies
  • Medicines needed
  • Eyeglasses or hearing aids
  • Insurance papers
  • Camera
  • Cell phone, charger and spare batteries
  • Jump drives with important files or photos
  • Laptop computer
  • Two days clothing
  • Toiletry kit
  • Flashlights
  • Battery operated radio
  • Spare batteries

            If you are asked by authorities to evacuate – do it! They know more about the current situation or conditions than you do.

WIND AND WINTER STORMS

            Wind and winter storms are not to be taken lightly in a RV. The damage from a storm can leave your area isolated for long periods, especially since most campground locations are outside main power grids.

            Preparation should be taken as soon as weather advisories go into effect.

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other campers so that everyone is advised
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations
  • Speak to other campers about leaving as a group for the shelter if the storm worsens before hitting your area
  • Plug in ceramic heater(s) to save propane in anticipation that the electricity will be going out
  • Help hold your inside temperature by banking heat (closes blinds, cover windows and, if necessary, pull in slides)
  • Tie down any furniture or obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Purchase extra batteries for all your equipment
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks and insulate your water tank and hoses if needed
  • Gather appropriate items and a shelter bag if you do need to evacuate
  • Prepare non-perishable foods that can be fixed quickly and not waste propane when the power goes out
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you may be without communication for a few days

            If you decide to ride out the storm, begin layering your clothing and turn down your heat.  Keep your battery-operated radio handy.

            After the storm has passed and it is clear to go outside, check on your fellow campers.  Remember only to call 911 if there is a life threatening emergency, as local lines will be busy.

TORNADOES AND HURRICANES

             If your area is under a severe thunderstorm warning then conditions are favorable for tornadoes and you should prepare to seek shelter. If your area is under any tornado alert, then you must seek shelter quickly. In the unfortunate circumstance that your area is under a hurricane watch or warning, then you need to prepare to evacuate. Areas under hurricane watch still receive storm bands possible of generating tornadoes.

            As soon as the advisories go into effect, start preparing!

  • Monitor weather alerts
  • Contact campground personal and other campers
  • Discuss emergency shelter locations and evacuation routes
  • Speak to other campers about leaving as a group for the local shelter
  • Obtain cash from the local ATM or bank as they will be shut down well before the hurricane hits
  • Purchase non-perishable foods that can be eaten from a can or pouch
  • Put your awning up and secure it with cable snap ties, do not rely on standard awning latches
  • Anchor down any obstacles that could damage other campers
  • Cover up anything outside that may get damaged from the rain and winds with new tarps (not used ones, they will shred quickly)
  • Tape a “X” with masking tape on all your windows as debris from the hurricane-force winds can shatter windows
  • Fill all your propane and extra fuel tanks (do not forget to label them with your name or campsite number)
  • Test your generator for several minutes
  • Check the condition of your camper battery, obtain a backup if needed
  • Empty your holding tanks and fill your water tank
  • Contact family outside the area and let them know you will be evacuating and the name of the local shelter(s)
  • Gather appropriate items for your shelter stay

            When the time comes, seek shelter! Material items can be replaced, lives cannot. After the storm is over and officials allow you to return, then begin to survey your damage.

            Many people do not realize that when there is a major power outage, gas and propane stations cannot pump without electricity. Cash is also a necessity as many stores will be cash-only until power is restored.

            Living in storm aftermath can be a very stressful time. Just be thankful for what you have and try to move forward.

FLOODS AND FIRES

            If conditions in your area are favorable for flooding or wild fires, then you will possibly have to seek shelter quickly.

            Make sure you take the appropriate precautions and locate the nearest evacuation route if you are able to leave with your RV. If officials ask you to gather a few items and leave your RV, then do it. Grab your evacuation kit and follow their instructions.

 SEEKING SHELTER

            Spending several days in a shelter is not easy and the conditions are not always favorable. As a visitor to the area you should be respectful. It is a horrifying experience for the locals – they are worried about losing their houses and livelihoods. When the storm is over, you can move on!

            Most shelters do not provide you with cots, blankets or food. Be respectful and do not drag in all your camping toys. Just take basic items you need, such as a modest camping chair, sleeping bag, non-perishable food and your evacuation kit. If you go with other campers, make arrangements to share some items to ease the burden.

            Please do not rely on charitable organizations for food or other items. These organizations need to focus on those who have lost everything or those who have no means to obtain food or clothing. Take responsibility for your own family and allow the organizations to help those truly in need.

            The road to disaster does not always have to be a rough one. My family and I have weathered three hurricanes, wind storms, a winter storm and the threat of wild fires in our RV. We have spent days at a shelter and lived weeks in storm aftermath. It is not always easy, yet with the proper preparation you can make that road to disaster a lot smoother.

Double Rainbow in Florida

A double rainbow appears after a storm in Florida.

One thing that does concern Full-Time RVers is severe weather. RVs are self-contained and can withstand reasonably cold temperatures and moderate winds. Yet it is foolish to intentionally weather any type of severe storm in a RV.

The first thing every RVer should invest in is a NOAA weather radio and/or weather alert radio. In case a weather Watch or Warning is issued, you will have the latest information. This information can not only save your lives, but those around you.

If you are staying in an area prone to severe weather, especially hurricanes and tornadoes, then you should find out where the local shelters are. Make a trip, finding the route.  Ask the campground staff if they notify their campers about severe weather alerts and what they advise campers to do in stormy situations.

Many campgrounds do have recreational buildings or concrete block buildings, but if they are not designated shelter areas, the manager will probably not allow you to stay (insurance reasons). If there isn’t time – such as a tornado – by all means, evacuate your RV and head to the closest secure structure you can – even if it is the campground restroom. But if you have time and know that severe weather will effect your area, make sure you seek an official shelter.

We have RV’d through all sorts of weather, including hurricanes. Fortunately each time our RV only had minimal damage, but we have seen horrible things happen to them. They flip over, they are crushed by trees or large debris, they blow-up (not literally, but it appears that way) and they disappear! Do not ride out a strong storm or a hurricane. RVs can be replaced, people cannot.

There are preparations you can do to help protect your investment if you have the time. Many RV books devote sections to storm and winter/storage preparation.

If you are told to evacuate, you must. If it is a volunteer evacuation or if you want to leave on your own accord with your RV, make sure you have: Fuel (and extra cans if possible), Cash (ATMs do run out of money prior to disasters), Canned Foods, Water, Flashlights, Batteries, Weather Radio, Personal Information (insurance papers, contact information, etc…), Cell Phone (don’t forget extra batteries and the charger), Camera, Medicines Needed (and prescription information if they need refilled while you are away), Laptop Computer and an Overnight Bag (with clothing and toiletries). The overnight bag may be needed if you find yourself stranded and are suddenly forced to leave your RV.

In addition you will want to make sure your tank is filled with water, holding tanks emptied, propane tanks filled and RV and tow batteries charged. You cannot plan on arriving to your evacuation destination. We know too many RVers who have evacuated only to find themselves stuck only two or three hours from where they left. And most times, especially if it is a hurricane, you find yourself in a worse situation! So be prepared, even if you are fleeing from disaster. Do not take Mother Nature for granted.

If you decide to stay and go to a shelter closer to the impending storm, then you still should prepare your RV for emergency living after the storm. Living in storm aftermath is not fun. It is chaotic and frustrating. Most likely you will not have electricity for at least a week (we have went three weeks without after hurricanes), propane and gas stations will not be able to pump without electricity (which means no refrigerator, stove, hot water, heat and/or generator fuel for you), lift stations (if your campground has one) will not be able to pump sewage and water will usually be by boil-order for days after the storm.

And you will be forced to stay at or near your campground, as the roads will be filled with debris or not drivable. Officials will close roads to non-residents and some roads will be dangerous without traffic lights and signals. This may sound silly, but people cannot drive without STOP signs or signal lights – they run intersections without stopping or yielding in the storm aftermath. In a storm aftermath situation, each intersection (without signs or working signal) becomes a 4-way STOP. We have seem many accidents caused, especially living in hurricane aftermath because of folks not following the traffic law.

Storms bring out the best and the worst in people. After the second hurricane we were in (as Full-Timers), we witnessed things we didn’t think possible. Scavengers were driving through the RV resort looking for aluminum scraps (especially off older trailers and venting). For those who weren’t able to return or were Seasonals away for the summer, belongings that were scattered were targets for scavengers to steal.

But again, storms also bring out the best in people. Many of us gathered folks belongings and secured it back on their property. We also shared food and supplies with other campers in need. We helped cleaned up debris (as much as we could until the professionals arrived) and offered generator usage time for those who didn’t have generators.

If you find yourself on the road to disaster, I have more information at: https://hscooper.wordpress.com/articles/on-the-road-to-disaster/

IN MY SITES: A Campground Mystery (Book #4)

In My Sites
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By HS Cooper
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DYING TO WORK CAMP (Book #3)

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THE PROPANE GAME (Book #2)

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A ‘CLASS A’ STASH (Book #1)

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ON THE ROAD TO DISASTER

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