We're entering the heart of hurricane season. Any day now, you're going
to turn on the TV and see a weatherperson pointing to some radar blob
out in the Atlantic and making two basic meteorological points:
1. There is no need to panic.
2. We could all be killed.
Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida. If
you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do
to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one." The
best way to get information on this topic is to ask people who were
here during Hurricane Andrew (we're easy to recognize, because we still
smell faintly of b.o. mixed with gasoline). Based on our experiences,
we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane
STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at
least three days.
STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.
Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this
sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in Florida.
If you're one of those people, you'll want to clip out the following
useful hurricane information and tuck it away in a safe place so that
later on, when a storm is brewing, you will not be able to locate it.
We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:
HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE -- If you own a home, you must have hurricane
insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as
long as your home meets two basic requirements: (1) It is reasonably
well built, and (2) It is located in Nebraska. Unfortunately, if your
home is located in Florida, or any other area that might actually
be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to
sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to
pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the
insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge
around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual
premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any
moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since
Hurricane Andrew, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance
companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance
Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium,
both Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.
SHUTTERS -- Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the
windows, all the doors, and -- if it's a major hurricane -- all the
toilets. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and
-- Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them
yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that, because you make
them yourself, they will fall off.
-- Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once
you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up,
your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.
-- Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to
use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that
you will have to sell your house to pay for them.
-- "Hurricane-proof" windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane
protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand
hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so.
He lives in Nebraska.
"HURRICANE PROOFING" YOUR PROPERTY: As the hurricane approaches, check
your yard for movable objects such as barbecue grills, planters, patio
furniture, visiting relatives, etc.; you should, as a precaution, throw
these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool,
you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds
will turn these objects into deadly missiles. (If you happen to have
deadly missiles in your yard, don't worry, because the hurricane winds
will turn THEM into harmless objects).
EVACUATION ROUTE -- If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an
evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a
low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida,"
you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation
route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits.
Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles
from your home, along with two million other evacuees. So, as a bonus,
you will not be lonely.
SUPPLIES: If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do
not buy them now! Florida tradition requires that you wait until
the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into
vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of Spam. In
addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:
-- 23 Flashlights.
-- At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes
out, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
-- Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what
the bleach is for. But it's traditional, so GET some, dammit!)
-- A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
-- A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in
a hurricane, but it looks cool.)
-- A large quantity of bananas, to placate the monkeys. (Ask anybody
who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate
-- $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you
can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.
Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws
near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by
turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers
stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over again how
vitally important it for everybody to stay the hell away from the ocean.
At that point, if you've prepared all you can, there's frankly nothing
left to for you to do but pray. I mean for a really BIG wave.