Saturday, August 14, 2004

Livin' Like A Refugee

I'm baaaack! Did you miss me?

I've been under mandatory evacuation due to Hurricane Charley. Thank God, I've a couple of friends on high ground who graciously invited me and my cats to stay. That's friendship!! So I packed up the cats, the water, the gun, the jewels, clean underwear, and headed for the hills.

For some reason, we barely slept or ate at all. I guess we were all running on adreneline or somthing, getting ready for what we expected to be major. We scurried like mad to secure their house against the winds, and were just about finished when the storm turned.

It was major for many people, and Charley may still hit the Carolinas with a vengeance. If you have any leftover money, send it to the The Salvation Army. The web-based donation form has a comment box if you want to specify your donation for the hurricane.

I've been very, very lucky. 12 noon yesterday, I had resigned myself to being homeless. Then the storm turned, and now a whole lot of other people are homeless. If Charley had done what I wanted it do, it would have stopped on top of Cuba just long enough to take out Fidel, then dissipated. Damn hurricanes never listen to me.

Sometimes I wonder if Fidel didn't actually die about 10 years ago, and they just have an automaton imitation, like Abraham Lincoln at Disney World. Nobody would know. I mean, come on, you think somebody like Danny Glover could tell the difference between a human and a Disney automaton? Pu-lease.

Ok, I'm tired and raving.

Anyway, here's the useful part of this post:

How to secure your home with plywood

Muscles. Lots and lots of muscles
lots of friends, with muscles
tap-ons (special screws) 1/4" x 2 3/4" with hex-heads
powerful drill - you really need at least two electric drills.
masonry bits and wood bits to drill 1/4" holes
carpenter's measuring tape
better eyes to measure with than I personally possess
the funky little whazzit that goes in the drill to screw in the hex-heads

Have extra bits because you'll wear them out.

Cut the plywood about 6" bigger around than the window you want to cover. Using the wood bit, drill holes 3" in from the edges and 1' apart, all the way around. You can use a cordless drill for the plywood.

Put your strongest friend on the ladder with your strongest drill, fitted with the masonry bit.

Then a couple other people put the plywood in place and hold it there while Muscles drills holes into the masonry with the masonry bit. It works fastest if somebody on the ground can hold two drills - one with the masonry bit and one with the whazzit to put the screws in. This person can hand up drills to the ladder person while keeping one foot or a fanny on the ladder to keep it steady.

You must have a real, electric drill for the masonry. Even if you have a masonry bit, you will need serious human muscle and strong electrical power to drill holes through concrete. Probably wood frame house are somewhat easier to board up.

Go round and round the house, up and down ladders, hauling humongous pieces of plywood, tripping over extension cords in the rain with your hand full of drills, until you are all thoroughly exhausted and all the windows are covered.

Make sure you leave one door uncovered so you can get back inside.

Have some cold pizza, because the electricity is shut off.


And you know what? If the storm turns and all your hard work turns out to be unnecessary, you won't regret it one bit.

I'm glad to be home.

P.S. If you have cats, make sure you have extra cat litter in your SHTF box. That's the one thing I had to make a last minute run for.

Be safe.

P.P.S. My brother left a message on my phone while I was a lost and forlorn refugee. "Hi! Just calling to make sure you're still alive. If you're not, can I have your stuff?"

He's getting cut out of the will.

: )

P.P.P.S. Yes, you DO have to put the screws in only one foot apart. I KNOW a screw in each corner will hold up the plywood in ordinary circumstances, but hurricanes aren't ordinary. You also have to get every screw in TIGHT, all the way. Quit bitching and do it. You might want to start a little earlier than we did, tho.

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