Jun 8, 2011

Natural Disaster, Are you Prepared?

We are once again entering the Hurricane season in Florida. This means I have to make a plan. What am I going to do if a major Hurricane hits Delray Beach?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

While I am thinking about it. What happened to the Alzheimer's patients in Joplin, Missouri? Where did they go after the fact? Did their families have a plan in place?

Think it can't happen to you? Really? It already happened to us three times.

I hadn't been here long. It was 2004. I watched the weather and saw a monster hurricane was projected to land in south Florida. I picked up the telephone and bought my mother an airplane ticket and sent her to my sister Joanne in New Jersey on the following day. A day and half later they closed the airports. It was too late. The turnpike and Interstate were backed up almost all the way to Georgia. All those years on Wall Street paid off. I had made a quick, good decision.

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What happened next? The electricity went our for 7 days. Fortunately, we decided to extend Dotty's stay since we had no idea at the time when the electricity would come back. The entire first week while the electricity was off the temperature soared into the 90s every day. No electricity for an entire week. Worse, you had to be home by 8 PM. The only exception to that rule were emergency and medical personnel.

Before I forget, good thing we extended Dotty's stay - we had another hurricane right behind the first one.

The third time (2005) the weather tricked us. Hurricane Wilma was projected to go into the Gulf of Mexico and into Mexico. It did. Then it made a right hand turn and roared straight east across Florida. Hurricanes are supposed to dissipate when they hit dry land. This one didn't. Wilma actually strengthened. It was a direct hit on Delray Beach.

How did we do? Lets see. A tree came through the bedroom window during the first half of the hurricane. So not only did I have to sweat out the first half of the hurricane, I had to sweat out the unexpected more powerful second half.

I was never worried about myself. It I was alone, I would have smoked a cigar, waited it out, and then worried about the damage.

But. I had to worry about Dotty and what might happen. It was nerve wracking. I prayed for the hurricane to end. I am not kidding.

Meanwhile, Dotty kept trying to go in the room where the window had been destroyed. Not just the glass by the way. The entire frame was blown out. We had what was really a 22 foot branch of an 80 foot tall pine tree in the bedroom. It was like an arrow. Fortunately, the wide part was too big and it stuck in the window.

Dotty could not understand the danger or the dire situation that we were in. She wouldn't sit still.

It could have been much worse. The sewer line adjacent to our property broke. Ever driven past the dump in Staten Island or Bayonne. There you go.

Now to the good news. They couldn't fix the sewer line. So, they had to run emergency electricity to get the job done. That emergency line included our condo. 50 condos had electricity by the second day. The other 616 condos, our neighbors, had to wait a week.

Dotty was a real "trooper" as it turned out. Each day at 6:30 AM we got up, got in the car and went and procured water, ice, and food for our direct neighbors and my mother's best friends (even after our electricity came back on). Fortunately, we did not have to wait in the miles long line of cars that went all the way into Boca Raton. Another benefit of the Wall Street days -- networking. And another good example of how important it is to Think Beyond the Obvious.

You better think about making a disaster plan.

Add caption
Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm (including the subtropical storm discovered in reanalysis), thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and fourth Category 5 hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 season. A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica on October 15, and intensified into a tropical storm two days later, which was named Wilma. After heading westward as a tropical depression, Wilma turned abruptly southward after becoming a tropical storm. Wilma continued intensifying, and eventually became a hurricane on October 18. Shortly thereafter, extreme intensification occurred, and in only 24 hours, Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph (295 km/h).

Intensity slowly leveled off after becoming a Category 5 hurricane, and winds had decreased to 150 mph (240 km/h) before reaching the Yucatán Peninsula on October 20 and October 21. After crossing the Yucatán Peninsula, Wilma emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane. As Wilma began accelerating to the northeast, gradual re-intensification occurred, and the hurricane became a Category 3 hurricane on October 24. Shortly thereafter, Wilma made landfall in Cape Romano, Florida with winds of 120 mph (190 km/h). As Wilma was crossing Florida, it had briefly weakened back to a Category 2 hurricane, but again re-intensified as it reached the Atlantic Ocean.

We live on the Atlantic Ocean.

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,680 articles with more than 512,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room