Well with the recent hurricane I got to test out my preps.
I live on the coast, and the center of the storm passed within 15 miles of me.
Evacuations were ordered but I had to stick around due to work.
In the end the storm was not much more than a really bad nor'easter but the way it was looking for the longest time was that it was going to be a huge sh_t storm hence why the evacs were ordered. 9+ feet of flooding was expected.
The storm tracks all came right at us and during the last half day before the storm the tracks shifted and put the storms path within 25 miles west then 80 miles east then coming back again, ending at 15 miles east of us at the last min.
Regardless of the evac orders I got all of my valuable belongings out of my place in advanced to a friends house who lives in a more storm/flood friendly place farther inland.
I already kept supplies on hand but I went to the store ahead of the crowds and got some last minute things. As I would be working throughout the storm and not able to leave I dumped off 4 days worth of personal food/water/clothes/misc supplies at my work place.
I filled my car with gas and moved my car several miles inland and got a ride back from a friend.
The very next day everyone was reporting on the "storm of our lifetime" and the evacuations were ordered not too long afterwards.
And that is of course when everyone else went into panic mode. There long lines at every gas station and ATM, and the stores got wiped clean.
I'm glad I didn't have to fight and wait through all of that. By that time everything I could do was in place as best as it could be. All i had to do was wait.
I know a lot of people in many places are kinda pissed in several states and areas that they got ordered to evacuate and then it ended up not being as bad as predicted. Some places got hit hard and other places not so hard. Either way they are more upset at having to evacuate then they are relieved that the storm changed and was not as bad as predicted.
All I have to say is that from standing in the Storm emergency operations command center and being involved in several briefings throughout the entire ordeal from those more in the know than me, is that early predictions right up to about half a day before the eye of the storm would arrive where painting a pretty dire picture. It really was looking like it was going to be a monster.
Thank God that a series of small factors changed at the last minute that really put a damper on the storm and its potential damage potential.
One thing lead to another and the timing of the storm coinciding with other smaller things that most people often don't consider like storm surge arrival and the high tide time and things like that really helped us.
I know a lot of people here (including me) like to poke fun at things like FEMA and all those associated with emergency disaster planning but I do have a higher level of respect for these people making the decisions.
There are so many things to consider and so many people and resources that all need to be tied together and coordinated that making plans and putting them into actions are not easy.
Especially when the weather can change so drastically within such a short time period. Like 6-12 hours. As well as hundreds of other things.
When your talking about trying to make that call whether to order evacuations or not, well. Its not an easy decision to make. Nor is it one that is taken anywhere close to lightly.
There sheer magnitude of disaster planning from dividing up an entire region for door to door notifications of evacuations to requisitioning and moving in supplies to set up storm shelters is HUUUGE.
You can plan all you want ahead of time but there are so many variables outside the control of people like local and state and federal level emergency planners that even the best plan A, B, and C, will have to be changed or altered or scrapped altogether. And then your back at square one sometimes.
For example, something as easy as where to put storm shelters....
One would think that that would be easy enough to predetermine. Things like schools, convention centers, etc.
Then you realize that on paper that looks good but in reality, 99% of "storm shelters" were not built to be solely storm shelters and they serve other purposes first.
So what ends up happening is that Shelter location A happens to be under construction/rennovation and is not usable, Shelter B is having staffing problems etc. So new plans and arraignments need to be made.
It really is controlled chaos to a certain level even under the best circumstances. And while you can table top excessive all you want, huge disasters really don't come along all that often.
Describing large scale disaster planning is like having a well funded, trained, and equipped pro level football team team that can practice all they want but they never get to play in any real games. But when they do finally get to play for real it's the freaking Super Bowl itself.
When that decision was made to evacuate it was done because all of the evidence had at the time suggested that there would be significant loss of life and property if it was not done.
Better safe than sorry when it comes to damage estimations like that.
Still a few hundred people out of hundreds of thousands did not evacuate or heed the warnings.
Patrolling around the post evacuated town was kind of eery. Where normally you would have hundreds of thousands of people, it was desolate. Every store, gas station, and restaurant was closed, parking lots were empty, you could look down for blocks and blocks and blocks and not see a single person.
It was like the zombie apocalypse only with no zombies.
At a certain time when the storm conditions got to a significantly unsafe level, all emergency operations personnel were recalled from the streets and evac route check points to pre determined safe locations.
And we were not going back out until conditions were at another safe predefined level. People who did not evacuate would have to fend for themselves and they were told ahead of hundreds of times in person, in door to door notification, via, email, text, radio, TV, internet, etc etc etc.
This recall is not done due to any level of unwillingness to want to help people from emergency services but because they are an important limited resource that will be needed in 100% ready capacity once the storm is over. The first rule of emergency services is, "don't become another victim." And to say bluntly eventually the chance of success ratio of losing firetrucks, paramedic units, and police while trying to get somewhere in a hurricane level storm does not meet the level to send them out.
Even still we had some units on standby in quick reaction teams in case some super ultra absolutely beyond dire
situation occurred that warranted some sort of response.
I remember being up in our communications area when weather conditions were nearing that critical level when the recall order was almost imminent and people were still calling 911 for everything from medical problems to families who at the last minute wanted to be evacuated to a storm shelter.
Emergency operations command units had to make some very tough and very quick case by case decisions on whether or not to send police/fire/EMS/national guard units out to try to get to these people in time or to tell them they were on their own.
A couple were able to be gotten too, but most people had to deal with their issues on their own. Which is hard to tell people but well... It is what it is and that is the result of not leaving when they had the chance.
There were no fatalities in my area thankfully.
In the end, I worked a lot of hours, at one point I worked 36 hours straight and got about 2 hours of sleep broken up into one hour segments passed out slumped over a table in one of the break rooms when we got recalled.
Outside, people lost power, there were a few tornado warnings and micro cell storms, and of course, flooding and lots of damaging sustained wind. Some of the streets were small rivers.
I got woken up shortly thereafter and told to go gear up to head out with national guard units to go out and do damage assessments and search and rescue patrols.
Thankfully I didn't have to rescue anyone.
Things to think about.
Leading up to the storm, it was looking like a worst case scenario.
And knowing that I would be staying through it and that my residence might be under water (which no amount of sandbagging and plywood boards would stop) it kinda felt like being stuck on some railroad tracks and hearing the train coming around the corner.
Not a whole lot you can do about it.
I got most of my valuables out to a good friend's house farther inland but still, you cant just pack up and move everything... Lots of people I work with who were in the same position told their wives, kids to get out and leave town.
At one point I just had to come to the conclusion and accept the fact that I was potentially going to lose a whole lot of personal stuff, and I could only save a small portion of it. That is not good feeling.
I was able to swallow that pill and prepared myself for the worst. I thought "well in the very least I'll get to buy some new clothes when all my old stuff gets washed away
On the good side having food/water/batteries/cash and backed up valuable information on a computer flash drive and all that other stuff ahead of time and already on hand made life a lot easier. Not having to worry about doing the mad scramble to the grocery/hardware store was one huge stress to not have to worry about.
I brought enough supplies with me and dropped it all off at work to last me 4 days without power, food or water. I left another secondary stash of a few days worth of supplies at my house and I was set.
I don't have enough to last me weeks and months like some of the preppers here that frequent these forums but I bet it was more than probably 98% of the rest of the population here.
On a funny note when I was moving all my guns out to my friends house, I was spent a lot of time dwelling on whether to keep my personal police tactical Remington 870 with me or my trusty/reliable AR15 with me.
I ended up taking my AR15 with me. It already had a surefire light mounted on it and an Aimpoint red dot sight.
Which might be helpful in dark world without power and lights if the SHTF for real. Plus I could carry 3x the ammo for it in the same space.
One bad part of the storm and no police/national guard out for a period of time is that you always have a few assholes who didn't evacuate just so they could risk the storm conditions to go out and break into houses and stores and steal anything that isn't nailed down.
Someone who did not evacuate actually called in a looter in the middle of the hurricane who was breaking into a liquor store. We were not able to send anyone out (our police station was surrounded by water at that point even if we wanted too) and the looter got away.
I think the question of "what do I do if he comes here?" may have been asked.
I'm not sure what the dispatcher told the caller but a lot of us were thinking "hope you own a gun, do what you have to do because we can't get to you."
When people started returning back to the evacuated area the "someone broke into my house while I was away" calls started coming in which was predicted.
The silver lining is that we actually caught a couple of the scum bags and there were not nearly as many as we were planning on.
Lesson learned/reinforced, secure your house, your valuables or take them with you if you can.