The Cost of Preparing for a Hurricane

Photo credit: Portal Abras, CC BY 2.0.

Last week I spent a ridiculous amount of money to ease the stress and panic of Hurricane Irma.

After a great Labor Day weekend, I arrived at work to panicked coworkers. While I knew about Irma, I had no idea that it was headed straight for me. Most of these hurricanes miss where I live and I don’t bother keeping track because it’s largely a waste of time. I started panicking quickly when my friends kept talking about their plans to evacuate, or narrating moment by moment how the storm was getting stronger by 5 miles per hour.

I started browsing Airbnbs and hotels in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Nashville. With a few rooms saved, I made an appointment to take my car to the dealer at 7 the next morning.

Car maintenance: $1,108.09

My first instinct was to leave Florida—but just a few days earlier my car had been having trouble starting, so I took it to the dealer on Wednesday. I received a call a few hours later informing me that I needed four new tires, a new battery, new fluid, and some upsells. After talking with my mechanic father, I was told they were actually cutting me a great deal so I pulled out the credit card and ate it.

The irony in this is that I had plans to flee out-of-state by car but I knew my car couldn’t make the trip without getting serviced—and now I could no longer afford to leave the state.

First round of supply shopping: $42.54

Literally turning the corner from the dealer I pulled into the nearest Walgreens. Now that I knew that leaving Florida was no longer an option, I bought plastic cutlery, paper plates, Gatorade, sparkling water because there was no water anywhere, cookies, chips, tape, and a car air freshener.

Second round of supply shopping: $77.23

Ran to the pharmacy again after work because I didn’t feel prepared enough. This time around I bought multivitamins, hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol, candles, chips, candy, wipes, a first aid kit, and period supplies because Irma wasn’t the only thing visiting me that weekend.

Gas: $22.79

I got extremely lucky. I rushed into a gas station as the third car in line just before six other cars pulled up behind me. Total wait time: maybe ten minutes? Filled up my tank. That gas station ran out of gas within the hour and never opened up again—even though this was still three days before the storm.

Market run: $30.13

Went to Fresh Market to see if by any chance they had anything. As I expected, there was no water. I did find two beaten-up loaves of bread that I bought along with some peanut butter, jelly, bananas, crackers, and cereal.

Plywood: $0

My boyfriend’s landlord ended up paying for six sheets of plywood (at $150 a sheet) to cover his apartment where I stayed. My landlord told me to “run.”

Costco run: $76

Went to browse and came out with these awesome lanterns, AA batteries, Coke Zero, and some protein shakes.

McDonalds: $16.89

Too tired to think about cooking, I went to the only fast food joint open within miles the day before the storm hit.

Unlimited data: $0

Verizon hooked me up with unlimited data from the 9th to the 11th, which is perfect because my Wi-Fi went out way before my power did.


Melissa lives and works in Boca Raton, Florida.

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