Evacuations are never good, and can be horrendous for horses and people with high medical needs. But as bad as the evacuation is, it is sometimes much better than staying. Sometimes the best option is to leave early while travel is easier and places to go are available, and accept having gone to the trouble even though the storm never actually hit.
A) Once an evacuation is officially urged, the roads will be packed and travel will be agonizingly slow, difficult and HOT, even if the gov’t one-way’s some of the highways. Restaurants and gas stations will be out of gas and food and the bathrooms will be beyond capacity. People will stand out in front of them holding signs made of cardboard boxes saying ‘closed’ and ‘we’re out of everything’ and waving on anyone trying to make a relief stop. If you are going to leave, and you don’t want to deal with this (especially with horses), leave a few days early and be ok if it turns out the hurricane misses you and you could have stayed. Them’s the breaks.
B) There is no place to take your horses because every safe-area barn will be over-max with evacuees. As part of your evacuation plan, have a standing reservation for your evacuee horses at barns that are likely to be out of the path of a storm coming for you. Then, when the day comes and you have to go, know they will probably sell it out from under you to some other evacuee because they heard a pitiful story from them first. Have a fallback plan, a second and a third place to go, for every direction you might have to take depending on various storm paths. The larger the storm-affected area, the worse this will be.
B-a) Keep your cell phones charged and info up to date on possible destination barns/farms so you can call and call from the truck, while on the road, as far away as you may have to go. Have plenty of cash & cc balances ready, rates, food and horse feed may be extravagant. It’s wrong, but there will be little help for it in the moment.
C) Red Cross Shelters and many other shelters do not take pets. Plan how you will manage with your pets. If you aren’t going to a shelter, be prepared to travel far because all lodgings will even have full parking lots with people sleeping in their cars.
D) See B) above about a place to take your horses: The same is true for your relatives in nursing homes, anyone on dialysis or with a max-care medical condition. You may need to leave EARLY to be sure they have even adequate care. Anywhere you can go with them will be full. Have a standing reservation and a plan if it doesn’t hold up to the demands of the crisis. If you leave medically-compromised people behind in ANY care facility (including hospital), they may not be evacuated, and face loss of electricity (beyond back-up power), high temperatures and limited care. If the storm actually hits, the risk to the medically vulnerable can be extreme. Planning for the evacuation of the most medically vulnerable people in your life will affect what you can do for your horses at the same time. Make a realistic plan that is least likely to fall apart under crisis conditions.
E) Have high shelves and other cleverness ready so you can move goods left behind above flood level. Don’t try to take too much in the way of goods. Concentrate on food, water & what you need to survive for 2-5 days. Have waterproof storage for things such as electronics and photos.
F) Keep your fuel topped off during storm season. It doesn’t hurt anything and should a trying situation arise, it will be just a little easier to deal with.
G) Most hurricane deaths are due to drowning. Often in cars. Do not drive into any water over a road if you can’t see the bottom.
H) Live on high ground above high-flood level. Even if you evacuate, you’ll be home sooner with less to deal with. You may still have to go because of the risk of tornadoes.
Hope you never have to evacuate. If you do, best of luck with it. :)[/QUOTE]
Great advice, thank you!!! Hopefully we never end up having to evacuate in central FL, but you just never know…with a big enough hurricane it could certainly be possible. That almost worries me less than staying though, because staying would mean choosing between turnout (and they only have the electo-tape fencing at our barn which I would imagine would come down very easily - and the next door neighbor has cows with barbed wire fence which really worries me if our horses got out) or putting her in a wood barn that likely wouldn’t hold up to hurricane force winds :eek: