September 10, 2018
One year ago today we were on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico when Irma morphed me from a hurricane amateur, into a hurricane whiz. Unfortunately, when Maria hit ten days later, I became a hurricane pro.
Well folks, I hate to break it to you, but it looks like it’s happening again. This morning, when I checked my phone, I had three tropical storm/hurricane warnings flashing! Three! Florence, Isaac and Helene! September is definitely hurricane month for this part of the planet. They happen. They are serious business and should be taken seriously when they occur.
After what we experienced last year, we’ve had quite a few people ask us what they could have sent and could have done to help people that are suffering through hurricane disasters. So we’ve given it some thought.
Buying a gift for the person who has everything can be challenging. The Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog has capitalized on this “challenge” for years. Among last year’s Christmas Book offerings were designer gowns and jewels, Rolls-Royce limited edition vehicles, and a private New Year’s Eve party for 300 at the Knickerbocker Hotel above Times Square. Neiman Marcus definitely knows how to pick ‘em.
Buying for people who have been through a disaster, like Hurricane Maria, can be likewise challenging. We had a friend, on Vieques, whose family sent him a box of bottled water. The postage to send the box was right around $30! Don’t get me wrong, having drinkable water is absolutely necessary to survive such a catastrophe, but it is usually available through agencies that have come to help. It’s the things that the relief agencies can’t or won’t provide that can make a big difference to folks going through the recovery process.
So we asked our friends and people on the island what they needed and would like to see in a care package. Below is a list of what we could have used, as well as a compilation of what they said.
If you are thinking about sending a package to a friend or loved one after they have been through a disaster, remember that getting any package is a big deal. The day we received a generator from the owner of the house we were sitting, I started crying. It was an emotional event, for sure.
1) Don’t send anything that requires refrigeration prior to or after it’s been opened. Individual packets of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup are brilliant!
2) Remember that there are usually no fresh veggies or fruit after a hurricane disaster. Anything that you can send that “simulates” fresh fruit and vegetables is greatly appreciated. Fruit cups and baby food in squeeze packages are great.
3) Don’t send anything, like candy, that could melt or gum together. Tootsie Rolls work. Likewise, granola bars and individually wrapped cheese and cracker snacks would be appreciated.
Know what size of batteries to send. Your survivors will consider you an angel if you can send a generator or solar charger. If you send a generator, make sure to send gasoline cans, as they are a rarity after a disaster.
Although we wouldn’t suggest sending bottled water, any type of water purification devices (Life Straws) or tablets would really be appreciated. Send Tang, Crystal Lite, and/or Koolaid and you’ll be a rock star!
In my theatre days we used spray dry shampoo in our hair to make it look gray. During the two months we spent on Vieques after Maria, I would have loved to have had some Pssst (dry shampoo). Washing hair with a garden hose attached to a rain barrel was tough!
An assortment of good, fresh adhesive bandages is a great thing to include. We entered Vieques with bandages in our portable first aid kit, but over a few months in the Caribbean tropical climate, they all lost their “stickiness.” Antibiotic creams and multi-vitamins would also be appreciated.
If you send repellent wipes, citronella candles or coils, battery-powered bug zappers, and fly paper, your recipients will think you are a relief ninja!!!
Our thoughts and prayers are that Florence, Isaac and Helene will not damage like their sibling storms did last year, but if you should happen to find yourself in the path of one of these monsters, please heed the warning and prepare yourself for the worst…just in case.
The National Hurricane Survival Initiative has created a printable checklist of safeguards and supplies that we think is excellent. You can download these here.
And, if a friend or loved one becomes a hurricane victim this season, let them know how much they mean to you by sending things they can really use.
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