As I am writing this, 8 minutes ago, The Weather Channel reported that several counties in Florida have orders for evacuations.
Hurricane Dorian is in the news and it has been upgraded to a Category 5. There have been many posts about the storm and about how Tesla owners and other EV owners could prepare. There was even an article with the headline, “‘I shudder to think of evacuating in an electric car’ — EVs in Disasters: Expectations Versus Reality.”
Let me explain something to you: A hurricane doesn’t care if you drive electric or gas. In fact, water doesn’t care. A car will flood whether it’s gas-powered or electric powered. The only difference between these two types of cars are types of fuel.
Filling up the car before the hurricane… Done in 20 minutes, and I can leave the state if I want or need to. pic.twitter.com/WV6JcqyMgH
— TesLatino 🚀 a.k.a. Rafael and #FSDBeta Tester (@TesLatino) August 29, 2019
In my opinion, owning an electric car would be financially beneficial in a situation like this, especially since Tesla has unlocked Supercharging for those in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Tesla has done this previously when hurricanes or other types of disasters were coming or struck. However, in situations like these, opinions don’t matter.
The headline above captured what many people seem to think about electric cars and hurricanes. There seems to be a division between EV owners and ICE car owners even when it comes to evacuation and disaster preparedness planning. Gas drivers seem to think that owning an electric car is more dangerous than a non-electric car, and vice versa for many EV drivers.
I don’t own a car, but this is the key from my experience living through severe hurricanes in Louisiana:
It’s not about the type of car you own. It’s about how prepared you are to survive a disaster!
I can not stress enough the importance of having transportation during evacuation. Any car will do — whether it is a Tesla, another EV, or a gas car — as long as you are fueled up and have a way out.
When it’s time to evacuate, it’s time to go. And you should not wait until the last minute.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Many people died. These people didn’t evacuate. Many reasons included simple disbelief. However, there is another, very sad reason that people didn’t leave — they had no way to evacuate.
They didn’t have reliable transportation. They didn’t have a car, or the funds to buy a ticket. A number of people in this group are those who were on government assistance. Their only source of income being a monthly check from the government, and Katrina hit at the end of the month. Add into this that evacuation notices were given just 48 hours before the storm hit.
I lived through some hurricanes. My apartment was completely submerged during Harvey. However, I was in the process of moving across the country, so only lost what we didn’t take on our first trip.
During Katrina, I was still living in my hometown of Shreveport and Katrina didn’t hit us, but my small city took in many evacuees and each person had a horror story. The storm hit, and eventually left, but the aftermath haunts me forever. The store I was working at sold lumber. We sold out of generators. In fact, almost all the stores that sold them were sold out. Everyone I knew had a relative and family staying with them from the storm.
One of my closest friends served in the National Guard and she had to help with rescue and recovery. She came back with her own horror stories.
Then we had Rita. I was living in an apartment building that was made up of two buildings connected to one another. My apartment was in the connector, which was four stories over empty space.
My bathroom was part of the old building. So I slept in the tub that night because there was a chance half of my home could be gone. Fortunately, by the time Rita hit Shreveport, it was a category one. I was lucky. Now I live in Baton Rouge, and we always have a plan.
When you live in a state that is commonly affected by hurricanes and they make an announcement that a named storm is out there, you should already start preparing. This applies to everyone, not just Tesla or non-Tesla owners — everyone.
If you are non-native but living in a state such as Florida, Louisiana, or any states commonly affected by hurricanes, you need to learn your geographical location so you can prepare. This means knowing whether or not your neighborhood is below sea level, whether or not your city has an evacuation route, and what areas commonly fall victim to flash flooding. You also need to learn what to do in these types of situations and be prepared to leave if they call for evacuating.
Flash floods are more common throughout the year than hurricanes and can be deadly as well. When there is a warning, do not drive through it. Period. Whether you own a Tesla, a gas car — don’t do it.
This Is What I Do
Hurricane season starts in June and goes through November. I keep candles, water, and extra canned food stocked up. So do my neighbors. Since I don’t own a car, I have to actually plan in advance just how to evacuate. This requires knowing Greyhound schedules, knowing friends with vehicles, and having funds to buy a ticket if Greyhound is my way out. Mega Bus also runs in some major cities.
Personally, if such a storm is to hit, my plans are to go up north to Shreveport, where I would have a place to stay with friends until it’s safe to come home.
We were prepared when Hurricane Barry came through earlier this summer. I was nervous, but we survived. I lost power for maybe 15 minutes before it came back on. The day before Hurricane Barry came through, New Orleans had severe flooding due to storms. It was good to be prepared days in advance.
If you are riding out a storm and evacuations have not been called, always make sure you have food, water, batteries, and candles. Electricity can still go out. Also have a battery-operated radio on hand. A generator could also be helpful. Although, some may not be able to afford one. Charge up all your devices (especially your phone) and use them minimally.
Plan to lose power. Plan to lose access to water. Fill your tub with water to flush the toilet. It may seem trivial or even silly, but if you plan for these events and they actually happen, you won’t be stuck. If you have a gas stove or a grill, you can cook your perishable foods if you do lose power.
My point in writing this article is to express urgency when it comes to planning for natural disasters. When it comes to survival, better safe than sorry — no matter what car you have. What matters is making sure you are safe in the event things go badly.
For those of you evacuating from Dorian, please be kind to one another and stay safe. Your safety is the number one most important thing right now and know that many people are rooting for your survival. Also, you can now send a text to 911 if you are unable to call them, and 211 is United Way. They can help you find housing and shelters.
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