I’ve mentioned previously that we once lived on a tropical island. We lived there for five years, and we went through many hurricanes. There was no evacuation because there was no place to go, although I imagine if the threat had ever been really huge, we would have been airlifted out. I think our houses were solidly built to withstand far more than 75 mile an hour winds, too, and that helped.
The first typhoon we experienced was the same week we moved out of a hotel into our home. We had to unload our truck and then rush to the grocery store to buy supplies. The lines were horribly long and there was very little left on the grocery store shelves. Our pots, pans, and things like flashlights were still in boxes. Thankfully, we never lost power in that storm and our water supply remained pure. But it was such a nervewracking experience that I determined never to repeat it again.
From June to November of every year we were in Typhoon Condition Four. TC-4 meant that while no typhoon had actually be spotted, destructive winds of 50 knots or greater were possible within 72 hours. We were told that it was our responsibility to stock up on supplies. From December to May I stocked up on supplies. Every time I went to the grocery store I looked for sale items that could be useful in the event of a power outage, paper plates, diaper wipes, foods that didn’t need cooking, matches, batteries, candles, a good flashlight, a camping lantern, an ice chest. I bought at least one item each time I went to the store. I kept those items in totes in the laundry room. From June through November I replenished any supplies that were depleted, and continued to look for bargains. During TC-4 I also made it a priority to keep my freezer full. A full freezer will stay frozen longer when the power is out. If I didn’t have food in my freezer, I filled water jugs and milk cartons with water and froze them.
When a typhoon was spotted, we went to TC-3. Winds of 50 knots or greater were possible within 48 hours. This was the time to clean up outside, because nobody wants a trash can or bike blowing through the window. This was also the time when most people went to the grocery store to get those supplies they hadn’t stocked up on. Me? I went to the library to stock up on books.
TC-2 Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 24 hours. Most people continued (or just got started) cleaning up the outside. By this time we’d finished the outside, invited friends over- especially friends who are single and live in dorms, friends living near the seawall or in high rise apartments over. I started baking. And baking. I made sure there was plenty of ice in my freezer and added more containers of water if there wasn’t. I baked more cookies and bread.
TC-1: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater within 12 hours. Schools were closed, the stores were still open and full of customers, but with depleted shelves. I made sure the kids and I had good showers, the laundry was done, and the dishes washed. I baked more. If the Headmaster didn’t have to ride the planes out of danger, he taped the windows. Otherwise I did it. We closed the shutters on the windows when we lived in a house that had them. I started filling containers with water. I filled jugs, bottles, the ice-chest, the laundry room sink, and the bathtub. I put buckets of water in the bathroom. We began welcoming guests if they were coming. I filled another ice chest with ice from the freezer and added some water bottles to the freezer.
TC-1C- Typhoon Condition One, Caution. Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater anticipated within 12 hours. Current winds were already up to 34-49 knots. All employees were sent home- nothing was open except essential services (police, hospitals, etc). We locked down. We began to have our typhoon party, which meant we sang, played cards, boardgames, twenty questions, read aloud, made hand shadows on the wall, visited, watched movies and ate. As long as we had electricity I cooked, saving the emergency supplies for genuine emergencies. I added a couple bottles or bags of ice to the refrigerator to keep it cold in case the power went out. We kept the radio or television on for notification of storm warnings. I washed my hair and the girls’ hair in the kitchen sink. We did sponge baths.
TC 1-E The E stood for Emergency: Actual winds of 50 knots or greater. All outside activity was prohibited. We continued to play indoors. We read aloud, sang, played cards and board games, played jacks with the girls, played hopscotch (marked on the floor with masking tape), and visited. When the power went out we brought out the no cook supplies, ate peanut butter sandwiches, and stopped opening the fridge or freezer. We used only the bathroom with the bathtub- flushing by filling a bucket of water from the full bathtub and then pouring it in the bowl. Not as clean a flush as a working toilet, but better than no flush at all. This might last a few hours, it might last two or three days. I always enjoyed the times when my husband was able to be home instead of flying out with the planes beyond the reach of the typhoon.
TC1-R for Recovery: Winds were dying back down, but everything remains closed, nobody goes to work, and nobody was allowed out on the roads. Our Typhoon house party continued.
Storm Watch: The typhoon was moving away, but there were still some storm effects, trees down, high waves, and the typhoon could always reverse course and put us back in TC1E again (and a couple of times that’s exactly what happened. People went back to work, the stores opened, but everybody kept the radio on in case the typhoon turned. If the power was on, we cleaned up and took the ice out of the refrigerator. If not, we continued to eat from the emergency supplies until it was on. Then we replenished them the next time we went shopping.
All year long we should behave as though we were in condition 4- that is, any emergency is possible between the next moment and 72 hours. I don’t succeed at this myself, but it’s a goal. It is better to have an aim and fall short than not to have any and never move forward at all.