Saturday, August 11, 2001
THE MIAMI HERALD
HURRICANE SEASON CAN MAKE A
BY DAVE BARRY
entering the heart of hurricane season. Any day now, you're
going to turn on the TV and see a weatherperson pointing to
some radar blob out in the Atlantic and making two basic meteorological
* There is no need to panic.
* We could all be killed.
hurricane season is an exciting time to be in South Florida.
If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what
you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get
hit by "the big one." The best way to get information
on this topic is to ask people who were here during Hurricane
Andrew (we're easy to recognize, because we still smell faintly
of b.o. mixed with gasoline). Based on our experiences, we
recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane
STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family
for at least three days.
STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.
Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow
this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in
South Florida. If you're one of those people, you'll want
to clip out the following useful hurricane information and
tuck it away in a safe place so that later on, when a storm
is brewing, you will not be able to locate it.
We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness
HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane
insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to
get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements: (1)
It is reasonably well-built, and (2) It is located in Nebraska.
Unfortunately, if your home is located in South Florida, or
any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane,
most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane
insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU
money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance
business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around
for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual
premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house.
At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental
floss. Since Hurricane Andrew, I have had an estimated 27
different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered
by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy
which states that, in addition to my premium, Bob and Big
Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.
SHUTTERS: Your house should have hurricane shutters on all
the windows, all the doors, and - if it's a major hurricane
- all the toilets. There are several types of shutters, with
advantages and disadvantages:
* Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make
them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because
you make them yourself, they will fall off.
* Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well,
once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you
get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps,
and it will be December.
* Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very
easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage
is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.
* "Hurricane-proof" windows: These are the newest
wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows,
but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of
this, because the salesman says so. He lives in Nebraska.
"HURRICANE PROOFING" YOUR PROPERTY: As the hurricane
approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue
grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc.;
you should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming
pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one
built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn
these objects into deadly missiles. (If you happen to have
deadly missiles in your yard, don't worry, because the hurricane
winds will turn THEM into harmless objects).
EVACUATION ROUTE: If you live in a low-lying area, you should
have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether
you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license;
if it says "Florida, " you live in a low-lying area.)
The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being
trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you
will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from
your home, along with two million other evacuees. So, as a
bonus, you will not be lonely.
SUPPLIES: If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies.
Do not buy them now! South Florida tradition requires that
you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket
and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the
last can of Spam. In addition to food and water, you will
need the following supplies:
* 23 flashlights.
* At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the
goes out, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
* Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY
knows what the bleach is for. But it's traditional, so GET
* A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
* A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be
useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)
* A large quantity of bananas, to placate the monkeys. (Ask
anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there
WILL be irate monkeys.)
* $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane
passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible
Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane
draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast
of the situation by turning on your television and watching
TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean
and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for
everybody to stay the hell away from the ocean.
At that point, if you've prepared all you can, there's frankly
nothing left to for you to do but pray. I mean for a really
© 2001 Dave Barry. The information you
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