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Hurricane and natural disaster planning should be part of your overall food storage plan. That plan should address food concerns over the period of a year or longer.
Also, you should have a long-term, section to your food security plan that addresses food supply over a five- or ten-year or longer period. As it is with hurricanes, one often follows the other and usually it is not so far behind.
So, your plan for storing food for mega storms should consider that fact. As such, your emergency food storage plan needs to be hurricane-specific as follows:
- Storm 1
- Storm 2
- Storm 3
Setting up emergency food for hurricanes
This should be a standalone supply of food that needs to last at least three months. It should work in conjunction with your long-term food stores without depleting them.
To store enough food for your family for three months.
This means counting calories and storing meals that fit your family’s needs. Also, consider unexpected guests and plan for X number of additional people. Extra mouths to feed is something that you will have to determine as there is no magic answer.
For my situation, I know that the three properties around me are home to four elderly people.
Kyle, next door is 97, and he pretty much lives there alone. There is a couple just down the hill from me who are in their 70’s and have no children. There is also a widower next to them who is in his late 80’s and deaf as a post.
If something happens here and food, power, or disrupts our ability to leave for any length of time, it will fall on me to make sure these people have what they need. That is a self-appointed role, but that is how reality works.
What you decide your role is, is up to you and this is a perfect example of what to think about as you plan for food security.
Likely will follow closely behind storm #1 and cause further damage and destruction. Perhaps it will delay help from arriving, the power from being restored or the roads from becoming navigable. It will also likely make the surrounding situation worse.
The food for this storm is part of storm 1’s food supply, but you want to plan for a delay in getting basic resources, such as fuel, power, etc. Because storm 2 is likely to make the general situation worse, consider adding an additional three months of food and supplies to your reserve.
Following Hurricane Katrina, some of those people were displaced for years.
Make sure that your food and resource will last 3-6 months.
This means adding extra food for two months’ worth of meals, extra propane for cooking and heating water, and extra water and water treatment supplies. Include pet food and pet supplies as well.
It could happen, and it could happen at any time. Offshore from Irma was Jose, and Behind Jose was Katia. Both, Jose and Katia appeared in such a short amount of time that Irma had had not even hit Florida.
Katia veered into the Gulf and had little impact on Texas, which was already recovering from Harvey. Storm 3 is a possibility and how it plays out creates several planning issues.
Storm 3 could just be an extension of storm 2, or it could hit during the cleanup efforts and further delay a semblance of normal living. Storm 3 will likely push your hurricane food supply to the limit, and that is why I am suggesting a six-month window for storm 2. In a third storm situation, you should plan for food supplies that extend to a solid year.
I cannot imagine what an area would look like if three category five hurricanes made landfall in the same place in a short amount of time. The devastation would be indescribable. Roads, homes, bridges, power plants, gas stations, water treatment plants, hospitals, businesses would likely just be gone or severely damaged.
There would also likely be vast swaths of land eroded by rain, floods, and high tides. That is the scenario for which you are preparing.
Are six months of food and supplies going to be enough?
The Difference Between Hurricane Food Supply and Long-term Food Supplies
The thing to keep in mind that what we are discussing and hopefully what you are planning for after this discussion is just hurricanes or other major events. You should also have a backup food supply that stretches to five or ten years.
The purpose of having a hurricane or natural disaster food supply in addition to your long-term food stores is because you do not want to deplete those stores and then face another calamity.
How you utilize your long-term food supply is part of your overall strategy. If you watched the videos of Irma and Harvey as they ripped into the US, then you saw the various forms of destruction that they both created.
That damage included, physical damage to buildings, flooding, loss of power, etc. Part of your strategy is going to involve how and where you store your emergency food supply because you might have to bug-out.
One of the big differences between long-term food supply and your hurricane or natural disaster food stores is time. The window for usage does not have to be long when you are planning for a natural disaster.
That’s somewhat different from planning for long-term food disruption. Do you need a 30-year shelf life for hurricane food stores? Not necessarily and especially not if you integrate hurricane food supplies into your annual food stores – those foods you would use within the year or over the next 18-months.
Your hurricane food supply should be part of your immediate food rotation plan.
Now that we’ve gotten the “How to” considerations out of the way, we can look at what type of foods you should consider adding to your hurricane or natural disaster food stores.
I am going to be vague about what to store because every situation is different. Given that, there are some considerations that apply to all situations.
Food List for Natural Disasters and Hurricanes
Water – Water should top your list of hurricane food supplies. Keep in mind that the average adult is supposed to drink 64 ounces of water per day and you will also need to consider water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.
What does that add up to? About 1-1.5 gallons of water per person in your group per day – and that is conservative.
Water and Flooding
Most of us know about the bacteria and other health issues that come from untreated water. Well, those germs are not the only concern. In floods, things like diesel, gas, and oil all float on water or flow with water.
It is also difficult to store all the water you need in bottles. You should consider a couple of ways to purify water. The chlorine tablets are good at getting rid of germs and disease-causing agents, but not so much for getting rid of diesel. Your choices include:
- Simple mechanical systems, such as a charcoal filter.
- Complex mechanical systems such as reverse osmosis (RO)
- Combined systems that use chemicals and mechanical means
- Homemade units that use a variety of materials in layers; such as, sand, gravel, and charcoal, etc.
In short, you will need to consider the source of water, especially if water treatment plants fail, or there are water line disruptions, which happen in flooding where erosion occurs.
Food Stores to Consider
Keep in mind that in a severe hurricane (category 4 or 5) that you will likely not have power or running water. You should use up any fresh food that you have first and then move into your hurricane stash.
Food preparation for the first week needs to be very simple, easy, and nutritionally complete. As such, consider:
- Freeze-dried foods, such as oatmeal, dry cereal, powdered milk, eggs, coffee, and fruit.
- Store and rotate cooking oil, such as olive oil or vegetable oils
- Dried foods, such as rice, pasta, beans, peas, and corn
- Peanut butter, jam, bread, and crackers – you can freeze bread, and it should keep for the first week without power.
- Canned meats, veggies, and fruit
- Condiments – salt, mayo, sugar, etc.
- Be sure to include a couple of can openers in your stores.
This small list is all that you need to make complete meals without a lot of prep, energy, or cleanup. Chances are you will have your hands full with surviving and not a lot of time to devote to meal prep or cleanup.
Food Stores Over 1-2 Weeks
This is an excellent time frame for using premade and frozen meals. If not, then at one-two weeks you should be into a routine and have a kitchen set up if your home’s kitchen is not in working order.
What you choose to use is 100 percent up to you. It can be a crate of MRE’s or meals from scratch. How you proceed is 100 percent dependent upon how you prepare.
Time Line for Food Types
1-2 Weeks –
Focus on using up fresh foods and substituting with easy, no hassle meals that do not require cooking or heating to enjoy. Frozen foods work well too if you can heat them without issue.
2-6 weeks –
Frozen prepared meals (if you have a power source for your freezer.) Otherwise, simple meals from scratch, such as beans, canned foods including meats, vegetables and/or fresh foods from your garden if it survived.
Root crops should do okay if they are not contaminated with flood waters – Potatoes, carrots, etc. Consider adding power from a backup generator or one of the solar generators if you are going the frozen food route.
You can also rely solely on MRE’s which are easy to prepare. As you plan for these kinds of disasters, you must also consider the fact that you might have to bugout. If that is the case, then part of your hurricane food supply must be mobile, and that means packaged foods that are complete meals.
While you are considering this, you must also think about where your bugout location is. The reason is that if you have a fixed destination, then you can store some supplies there. Options for this include a small storage unit or even with family.
You must also consider the possibility that what you come back to might be nothing. Be prepared and think carefully about what your options are – Plan A, B, and C. Dot those I’s and cross those T’s.
1.5 months to 1 year –
If you are still home and your food stores are safe, then you should be utilizing the rotation foods in your food stores. These are the foods you would normally use throughout the year as that is what their purpose is.
Canned foods, bottled water, powdered foods, such as eggs, milk, etc. As this food source begins to thin, fill in with your long-term food stores, such as MRE’s.
If you are not still at home or home is not accessible then you will need to use a secondary food supply or cash to replace what was lost with what you need.
The Food Choices
Notice that I am not telling you what to buy or what to store except for generalities. That is because your situation is going to be unique as are your food requirements. You will need to sit down and do the math, count calories, and plan accordingly. You should also keep at hand our Annual Hurricane Readiness Checklist.
Water, food, shelter, power, fuel, necessities, safety, first aid, defense, health and wellness, emergency health issues, communication, etc., these are the things you must consider.
If you have questions, please ask them in the comments.
About the Author: David is an active prepper and freelance writer. He lives in rural Northern California in the shadow of an active volcano. He hunts and fishes as a means of providing. He brings a science background to his writing and discusses botany, biology, geology, and weather as they apply to living, growing your own food, and surviving. He is a master gardener and understands food production, storage, and preserving. He lives five miles down a single-lane road and he deals with power outages, wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, and crazy pot growers, raiders, medical emergencies, law enforcement and the potential of that volcano.
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