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By August 28, 2012 Read More →

The Fright of Bugging In for Hurricane Alicia

[intro2]Sheltering in our house during Hurricane Alicia was a constant state of fear as we heard transformers exploding and trees falling.[/intro2]

The main focus of our disaster planning has usually been hurricanes.

We lived in a fairly new house in Houston when hurricane Alicia hit in 1983.  We had the disaster preparedness handout that all the grocery stores and newspapers insert each year at the beginning of hurricane season.  We pretty much followed it to the letter and had most of the items on hand as a matter of habit long established from childhood.  We had plenty of flashlights, batteries, camping gear, radios, tape for the windows, water, etc.  We gathered up all things from around the house that could become airborne, taped the windows (NEVER again will I do THAT!).

We decided to shelter in place in a house that had way too many sliding glass atrium windows!   I was a nervous wreck listening to all the transformers blow, and lightning, wind and rain.  Every time I heard a boom, I would jump up to see the eerily dancing lights of the explosions.  The call-in radio shows like KTRH, kept me informed and aware of any changes I needed in my prepping and was our lifeline when we lost electricity.  We had no damage from the storm partially because the home, fence and landscaping was new, as was the rest of the neighborhood.  Some of the houses in our neighborhood were not so lucky since we had tornadoes skipping across the rooftops.  We saw lots of tarps and chainsaws in the following days, but most of the trees in the area were still small and left little debris.

We had plenty of gas, water, and food that required no cooking since I had stocked up before the crowds wiped out the stores.  Although I got tired of peanut butter and crackers, since it was handy junk food, we ate a lot of raw fresh fruit and veggies, freeze dried camping food, nuts, and canned potted meats after the grilled foods ran out.  The toilets still flushed, but the water was suspect for a few days so we drank the water I had stored and way too many sodas.   I think the hardest part was living without electricity for almost a week.

We could not afford a generator at the time (still can’t afford a good one!) and it got pretty hot.  We made the best of it by inviting friends over and grilling and playing D & D until we were exhausted.  One of our friends was an ice cream aficionado, so we all ate it until we popped!  Although I would never do it again if I had a choice, it turned out to be a pretty good experience overall.

What I learned:  I would prefer to batten down the hatches, and bug out before everyone else does.  I was a nervous wreck.  The sights and sounds of that long night still haunt me.

What I wished I had:  A quiet generator to run a small refrigerator and room air conditioner and TV
What I am glad I had:  Friends.  We worked together to make a bad situation kinda fun.

The next few years, we always packed up the dog and ourselves and as many personal belongings as I could stuff in our car to head to my in-law’s house in Killeen or an aunt’s house in Columbus that was built like a fortress.  It was a great excuse to see them and I was much more relaxed.  The hard part is driving back, not sure what will be waiting, if anything.  We have been very blessed…so far.

My bug out bags were good, based on what I knew then.  Having a girl scout and country girl mentality, helped me to plan, since I already had some habits established.  We did not have computers back then, so lugging out the valuable pictures, papers and memorabilia was a pain.  I highly recommend scanning and taking pictures of all the valuables (and receipts) you would be heartbroken, or very inconvenienced losing.  Multiple thumb drives are a must since I travel extensively now.  I tried to pack enough clothes for a variety of scenarios, and keep the gas, water, and food supplies stocked in the car and back at home in a room with no windows.  We generally did not prepare for anything primitive, like taking a sleeping bag or tent because we knew to get out before the traffic got crazy.

We have since moved to the Canyon Lake Area and now need to worry about drought and fires.  Still a little fuzzy on that one.


CeCe Melton, D.C.

Canyon Lake, TX


Posted in: Hurricane

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4 Comments on "The Fright of Bugging In for Hurricane Alicia"

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  1. Bob says:

    Fires are an important concern where I live as well. One thing that is clear, after looking at the after effects of a few brush fires is that fires are really bad at getting over firebreaks. A road, even a gravel driveway, will stop them almost all the time. Make sure the grass around your house (and all outbuildings) is green and free of underlying dead material.

  2. Hurricanes Betsy, Camille and Katrina passed directly over me. Those power transformers exploding are really something. (Some in New Orleans thought these explosions were the govt. blowing the levys to protect Uptown. Crazy…) I am much better prepared this season than I was for Katrina. I have a monster generator, plenty of spare fuel, and much better personal protection.

  3. stevenswilkins says:

    thanks for that. very informative and useful. appreciate your honesty.

  4. Tom Walker says:

    Michael J. Rouillier how did you make out in Issac?