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What are the best ways to stay safe during a major tropical storm?

Discussion in 'Storm Watch' started by KathyV, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,273
    3,413
    113
    I am happy to say that I have never been around when a hurricane or typhoon has hit a location. But I have been at the edge of some storms caused by hurricanes that "brushed" near islands. We were on Grand Cayman during a storm that was so strong it moved the Kittiwake wreck by several feet. And we were on Roatan when that terrible hurricane devastated Cozumel some years ago - we were distant but still felt the impact.

    The only really big tropical storm I've lived through was on the Crown Islander liveaboard in the Bahamas way back in 1993. It was a gale not a hurricane but it was a nasty storm. The boat took shelter to ride out the storm but we had a scary night. The winch to operate the anchor was damaged and they had to cut the anchor. The boat sustained some other minor damage as well.

    Shortly afterwards we heard that the Crown Islander went out of business. I think there may have already been in financial trouble and the winch and anchor just added to their problems. It's a shame because it was a lovely boat and a nice crew. You can see the boat at the beginning of the video at the link below. It was huge! Nicest cabin I've ever had on a liveaboard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzZS6hQ1tds

    I never wanted to be on a boat in a big storm again and after I heard about the Wave Dancer capsizing in Belize in a hurricane in 2001 and killing 17 divers, I decided that if I was ever in a similar situation - I would do my best to disembark and seek shelter on land!

    But after reading about this recent Typhoon Maysak hitting Chuuk it's hard to figure out what would be the best course of action. Passengers stayed on the Thorfinn and they were fine, but passengers disembarked the Siren and Odyssey and those boats were severely damaged. So I guess that worked out okay as far as keeping people safe, although I am sorry to hear about the damage to the boats.

    On Chuuk there has been serious destruction and reported deaths, the road is clogged, the airport was shut down, the power and water are out, and there are reports of looting. I don't know if you would even be able to find a place to stay on land because the locals had to shelter in schools.

    I still think that I would rather be on land during a hurricane than on the water. I know that there is no sure, safe thing to do in a hurricane, but does anyone have suggestions about the best options for staying safe? The only thing I can think of is going to the ATM before the storm hits and having as much cash stashed away as I can get my hands on; because my credit card isn't going to work when the power and internet are out.

    Have any of you lived through a major tropical storm? What were your experiences and what do you advise to try and stay safe? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  2. egovenatus

    egovenatus Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: VA
    121
    24
    18
    Yes, just lived through Maysak on Chuuk. Be happy to discuss lessons learned when I get home and have a better internet connection.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  3. ReefGuy

    ReefGuy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Punta Gorda, Fl.
    3,269
    824
    113
    Stay inside for a few hours (and not on a boat)?
     
  4. egovenatus

    egovenatus Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: VA
    121
    24
    18
    Ok, finally home. IN answer to your question, I have been through two major storms now. 1. Hurricane Isabel, where I was out an about working with the military and state dive team rescuing people in the middle of the hurricane that chose not to evacuate, and 2. Typhoon Maysak, where we left the live aboard we were on and headed to shore.

    On the Thorfin, they were VERY lucky, she was dragging her anchor bad, and it was probably only luck that she made it. I watched her get drug then make a run for it. She did not "wait it out" in the lagoon in the same spot as people who were on her have suggested. She and the people aboard her were lucky, and I question the decision of the captain to keep her guests on board Every other boat I saw that was around the island is beached and ruined only two made it, both were lucky, and both had their issues during the storm. Enough of that.

    Lessons learned, having enough clean water, eating whenever food was available (having food saved with lots of carbs that can survive no refrigeration IE power bars), having (more) cash than I had I should have probably had about $1000 in cash, vs the $500 I had in Chuuk, a good first aid kit, many injuries both major an minor and we needed some better supplies, solar charger was GREAT when we had no power (for phones and computers), cheap shortwave radio (I recommend the solar charger/manual charger/shortwave radio/weather radio that Red Cross makes), a good knife with a decent sized blade, this was great for cutting branches and other things), an Iridium phone or Iridium hotspot would have been good to have, a waterproof backpack keep the above in it plus your passport/ID etc..., work gloves, hat with visor/sunglasses, sun screen etc... a flashlight and extra batteries, something to read (it gets boring while you wait). Many of us also put on our dive boots since we didn't know how wet it was going to be, but we ended up wearing them during clean up efforts as well.

    We all took shelter in the sturdiest building at the Blue Lagoon Resort and stayed near the section of the building that was sunk on concrete pilings and what looked like 8x8 or 10x10 solid beams support and cross beams and hung out till the storm passed. Stay away from windows, try to stay sheltered and in the strongest part of the building and pass time till it goes by. It was almost 8 hours for us I think that we had heavy wind and rain with a 45 minute reprieve as the eye passed over. The second half of the storm was MUCH worse than the first half, so don't get caught outside or think it's over yet.

    If you have any specific questions I'll be happy to address them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
    DandyDon likes this.
  5. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,273
    3,413
    113
    Thank you Egovenatus, excellent, specific and practical advice. Glad you made it home safe.
     

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