Hurricane Tips: Prepping for Hurricane Florence in Virginia

With Hurricane Florence threatening to cause historic levels of devastation in the Carolinas, Virginia, and other parts of the mid-Atlantic, late this week into the weekend, I am currently readying to hunker down for a storm that stands a real chance of turning my neighborhood temporarily into a tributary of the already-flooded James River.

Evacuations have already been ordered for areas along Virginia’s shoreline. Here in Richmond, the ground is already soaked from recent rainstorms—it’s been a very rainy summer. The city can be prone to flooding, so there is every reason to believe that Florence will knock out power and flood the low-lying areas here.

hurricane florence

As projections currently stand, thankfully, Richmond will not be hit directly, but citizens from Virginia to South Carolina are being encouraged to prepare for an extremely destructive storm.

As is always the case with incoming hurricanes, some are taking it very lightly, while others are panicking. With time running out before the storm hits, you want to get out to the store and buy any last-minute items and supplies you need.

It’s important to start preparing early, before panic-level crowds descend on grocery stores and Wal-Marts, and to make a plan both for hunkering down and bugging out to a location further from the hurricane’s path.

My plan is to bug in, but once the storm is nearer, depending on how bad it looks, I may bug out to a property in West Virginia, further inland from the storm. For now, the following section summarizes my basic bug-in supply set. My basic prepping philosophy is to be able to provide food and water for myself and three roommates for over a month. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but better safe than sorry!

My first step was buying sandbags. You can buy pre-filled ones at some stores, but they are expensive—around $35 or more per bag. Big-box home improvement stores usually have the tough plastic bags for around $.50 cents each, and you can buy these and sand separately and then fill them up yourself with sand from the construction and landscaping supply aisle.

Doing it this way, I got eight sandbags for about $34. In other words, by buying bags and filling them with sand myself, I got eight sandbags for the same amount that a single pre-filled sandbag would have cost me. Filling the bags with sand was hard work, but well worth the savings.

Hurricane Florence: Flood Preparation List

These images show most of what I’ve put together for my Hurricane Florence flood preparation supply:

Water and assorted filters/filtration jug, including some filters that can get rid of heavy metals
8 sandbags
  • A box of tough contractor bags
  • 40 pounds of pet food
  • Two battery-powered headlamps and two solar-powered lanterns, one of which can charge phones
  • AM/FM radio that can be powered via battery, solar, an internal battery pack, or hand crank. Radio has a phone charger port and weather station pre-sets

Over a month’s worth of non-perishable food for four people. Foods can be eaten without cooking or prepared just by adding water

  • 500 tampons (Overkill, but just took the whole box out of my storage unit)
  • Several rolls of duct tape
  • Baby wipes / TP / Hand sanitizer

  • Small gas stove (though not advisable to use indoors unless absolutely necessary)
  • First aid kits

Hurricane Florence: General Flood Preparation Tips

Wondering what to do to prepare for Hurricane Florence? Here are some major steps you can take before any hurricane, flood, or storm:

  • Make sure you have fresh water. Plan for a gallon of water per person per day, plus whatever your pets need to drink
  • Take enough cash out of the bank to fund basic living needs for two weeks. Expect debit and credit cards not to work for a while
  • Before the power goes out, pre-fill all bathtubs with water. This can be used for sanitation, drinking for you and your pets, and flushing toilets when power is out
  • Even if cellular networks become spotty, text messages can sometimes go through
  • Ensure prescriptions are filled
  • Prepare a charcoal grill. Once the storm is over, power may be out for long periods, but you can use the charcoal grill for cooking and heating water
  • Fill up your car’s gas tank
  • Invest in an extremely long extension cord if you live near neighbors. If their power returns first, they may be willing to share (or vice-versa) and let you plug in your fridge
  • Have pets? Make sure you have a surplus of pet food
  • Secure old tax returns and financial documents in a waterproof box
  • Put everything in your basement on risers or milk crates
  • Write down phone numbers including family, friends, the power company, the insurance company, FEMA, the Red Cross, and other emergency contacts
  • Get a can opener ready
  • If you are bugging out, tell family members where your bug-out location is beforehand
  • Secure and waterproof all important documents such as IDs and passports, birth certificates, social security cards, all insurance documents, etc.
  • Get Backdoor Survival LIFELINE, waterproof flash drive library archive of survival information

Safety After Hurricane Florence

Once the hurricane is over and you find out which stores are re-opening, be careful in flooded areas. Downed power lines can create hazards on the wet road, and guardrails can become electrified!

In addition, with so much water soaked into the ground, the risk is higher for mudslides and other collapses. Bridges, roads, pathways, and pretty much everything else you can think of is more likely to give way.

Tree limbs and trunks will also be weakened. Trees can continue to fall over even after the wind dies down and the sun comes back out.

Finally, if your house is flooded, it takes very little time for mold to start growing. Find a mold remediation specialist in your area as soon as you can once the water is all removed. There are a lot of things to take into consideration before you start cleaning up after a hurricane.

Final Thoughts

You want to be one of the folks who say, “Damn, I really over-prepared for that dud,” rather than one of the folks who say “Damn, I really wish I had done more.” And while optimism is good that the storm won’t be as bad as projected, the smart way to hope for the best is by preparing for the worst.

For my fellow earthlings in the Carolinas, Virginia, and the rest of the mid-Atlantic, prep smart and stay safe!

Author Bio: Eric is a nature-loving writer, experience junkie, and former Boy Scout who never forgot that time-honored Scout Motto: Be prepared. Aside from camping and survival, he loves writing about travel, history, and anything he finds strange and unique!

Need more help with hurricane preparation? Get Backdoor Survival LIFELINE


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  1. My granddaughter & family (5 kids, 1 special needs) are in Fredricksburg & I’m clean across the country worrying myself sick. She tells me they are fairly well prepared but then admitted yesterday she went out looking for D cell batteries & couldn’t find any. I’m getting them a good book on prepping for Christmas this year!

  2. Preparation and attitude will determine whether a disaster is your worst nightmare or fondest memory. Right before hurricane Katrina I saw film footage of a rescue helicopter hovering over a backyard. The young boys were jumping off the balcony into the above ground swimming pool while parents sat with their feet up on the balcony railing. They smiled, showed the ice chest full of water and sodas, and waved the helicopter away. By contrast, there was a young mother and her two young children standing in line to shelter in the Super Dome. They took NOTHING but themselves and the clothes they were wearing; no food, no water, no blankets, no jackets, no toys for the kids, and only shoes were flip flops. I’d rather be the first family! Being prepared, and a good attitude, can change nightmares into memories…sometimes very good ones.

  3. Good article – thanks for publishing. It pointed out a hole in our preparations, in particular female hygiene products. Fixed, and now I’m a hero thanks to this site – thanks!

    We’re in Virginia Beach, and, while all we currently have is a bit of wind and a little rain so far, the days leading to landfall remind me of the first 30 minutes of World War Z, only a bit more polite. Maybe a little more like Sharknado. Good news is that we still have time before flooding becomes an issue.

    Retail hysteria has died down quite a bit since the storm has moved south – most stores have restocked with generators, water, etc. That said, this should be a stark reminder to all of us here that we should all be at a point where we don’t have to participate in the Hunger Games – Walmart edition. Get Ready, Stay Ready.

    This article is a great place to start, as is this website. Thanks again.

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