Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Mr. Prepared Reveals How a Century of Preparation Saved Lives!

In 1900, the worst weather disaster to ever hit the United States struck in early September. A giant Category 4 hurricane – forever anonymous, since they didn’t name hurricanes at that time – with sustained winds of over 130 mph struck Galveston, Texas, with storm surges of 8 to 15 feet – sweeping over the island and leaving over 8000 residents dead.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike, with winds of over 110 mph and a storm surge of 12 feet, hit Galveston all over again. Forecasters warned of “certain death” if residents didn’t leave. Many didn’t – and many did not survive. But the dead and missing this time totaled less than 500, even though the storm was almost equally as powerful.

I’m Mr. Prepared, here to tell you the big difference between these two horrific scenarios – preparation.

Back in 1900, weather forecasting was not yet a very accurate science and, of course, you wouldn’t get far turning on that TV that hadn’t been invented yet to see pictures from that satellite that nobody back then ever dreamt would actually exist! One local weather-watcher said that the reason so many island residents perished was that they were mesmerized by the massive waves crashing into shore – not realizing that those waves would eventually flood over their homes!

And in the Really Bad Decision Honor Roll, you’ll probably find the name of Galveston Weather Bureau section director Isaac Cline, who wrote an article in the local paper in 1891 that a protective seawall was not necessary to protect Galveston – this “expert” also argued that it would be impossible for a hurricane of significant strength to strike the island!

After the big 1900 hurricane, obviously minds were changed. Engineers raised the elevation of the island by four feet and built a 17 foot protective seawall. And while Ike certainly took down its share of houses and caused massive flooding, the consequences would have been far worse if those steps hadn’t been taken.

But mostly, with radar and satellite storm tracking, and TV and radio broadcasts to issue storm warnings, residents were advised of a mandatory evacuation of the island. And people living further inland knew something big and bad was on the way, and could take the emergency hurricane preparations that all of us at love to tell you about!

Those who survived the storm still had to deal with widespread power outages and lack of usable water, as many pumping stations were offline. And this is where knowing how to prepare for a hurricane really paid off for the smart ones who did the advance work. Having carefully-stored and suitable food and water supplies makes all the difference, as does having a portable generator and necessary first aid and survival gear. When a storm this big hits, you’re often on your own for days or even weeks as emergency authorities take care of those with more critical needs.

Don’t think that because we’re nearing the end of hurricane season, you can put away the preparedness plans until next year. As of this writing, forecasters are predicting at least three more major storms this season. So please check out hurricane preparedness do’s and don’ts – and find out which supplies you need to have on hand – at

Until next time, Be Smart! Be Safe! Be Prepared! This is Mr. Prepared, bringing Awareness to Preparedness!