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Evacuate or Ride it Out?

It’s not as simple as it seems.

  1. Can you take time off from work?

  2. Do you have reliable transportation?

  3. Is there enough money for gas, food, and incidentals?

  4. If you have pets, can they go with you? If not, where do they go?

  5. How long do you plan to be away?

  6. Does the school have a plan?

  7. What are your housing plans- hotel, rent a house, stay with friends or family?

  8. How do you prepare the house for your absence?

  9. What do you bring with you? Can it fit?

  10. Do parents, siblings, children, and neighbors' factor into the equation?

These are a few questions we consider every time there is a disturbance in the gulf. Locals know the drill. At the end of the day, you have two options: hunker down or evacuate. There is no one size fits all answer because we have different resources, obligations, and needs.

There are pros and cons to each decision. If you stay, there's the hurricane party! You prep the house, and yard, stock up on foods that don't require electricity, purchase candles, batteries, and water, and wait. I have fond memories of eating ice cream for dinner, playing games by candlelight, and camping together in the living room. As a child, the event is as fun or anxiety ridden as the adults in the house make it. Yes, there's the rain and wind, but that was tempered by the love and comfort from our parents, laughter with our cousins, and anticipation of an extra day or two off from school and work.

From a parent's perspective, there's so much MORE involved. If you are scheduled to work, you cannot leave until an evacuation is suggested or mandated. Do you chance losing your job? Where do you go if you have pets that are too big or numerous for a hotel? If you cannot take them with you, where do you leave them? How is that expense covered? Do you have reliable transportation? While many housing options pop up once the storm hits, there are not as many free or affordable accommodations before the storm. Some people care for elderly parents, friends, or neighbors who cannot or will not leave. Do you leave them behind?

That's the tip of the iceberg of questions parents face when deciding whether or not to evacuate.

If you leave, you are not there to put up a tarp, pick up debris, or add sandbags. You are not there to salvage possessions or prevent further harm when your house or property is damaged. With a tarp or temporary fix, a lot of the secondary destruction could be mitigated. If the storm turns at the last minute and it is a 'false alarm', you may have used your emergency savings or vacation days.

As hard as it is, do not assume or judge people for not making the 'right' decision with a natural disaster. Try to acknowledge the complexity of the situation. Usually, people make the best decision at the time with the information, tools, and resources available. While the house on the right is a possibility, so is the neighborhood below.

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