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Hurricane advice....

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by AngryBassets, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. AngryBassets

    AngryBassets Jagenden Übel

    So I haven't posted here in a while, but here I am looking for some advice. I didn't want to jack the Hurricane thread, so here it is:

    Blizzards? Nearly every one in the past 17 years. Thunderstorms? Bah. Severe heat? 100+ before the heat index was nothing this summer.

    I've never worked in anything like this.

    Where I am (southern New Jersey, across from Philadelphia) should, by latest track, should be ~30 miles west of where the eye passes. Hopefully, it moves further east (sorry, NY). I've already said my good-byes to my 40' park trailer where we've spent the past 3 summers (outside of Sea Isle, 3/4 mile from the back bay, in Cape May County) earlier today.

    So what can I expect?

    Not only do I worry about my guys, what about my family? We're not in a flood zone--close, but we're not. My house is a 60 year old BRICK cape cod. My wife will be here with my two little ones. We're stocked up on supplies, and I expect to be without power for at least a few days. Even if a tree fell on the house (there's a good size maple in the yard), given the stout construction, I'm hoping the house will be ok.

    Now, what about work? My municipality is not in any flood prone areas, however we are mostly commercial (retail) and residential. My plans are to basically ground everyone and only respond to absolute emergencies. How difficult is it to drive in something like this? How are the CVPI's? Did your radio systems hold up ok? Cell service? Any post-storm issues?

    Any stories or advice would be helpful...
  2. Dalton Wayne

    Dalton Wayne Epic mustache Millennium Member

    Apr 5, 1999
    Central Florida
    Do you have hurricane rider on your ins. other then that sounds like you got your bases covered

    and hope your not on the north east side of this storm that's where they do the most damage
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011

  3. merlynusn


    Nov 16, 2007
    When I went through Isabel Virginia Beach had a EOC set up. The EOC set up all commands and decided when to shut everything down. They came out on the radios and put out to the news that we (police, fire, ems) were shut down and not responding to ANYTHING when the worst of it came. When they reopened the roads, we started handling the backlog of calls. I think the shut down time was 1-2 hours.

    They decided that if it was too dangerous, they weren't going to be risking our lives driving in the major part of a hurricane for any reason at all. Coordinate with your fire depts, hospitals etc to get your guys somewhere to hunker down when you shut it all down. I was an EMT at the time and we had 3-4 police cars come to the fire station until they reopened the roads.

    In a solid brick house your family should be okay. Not being in a flood plain will help. I have flood insurance just in case, even though I really don't need it. Just make sure you are stocked up and have plenty of supplies. Have flashlights, games, candles, etc. Have another way to communicate. Text is easier to do than voice since it doesn't take up as much space. Most alarm systems will have battery backup (those that do) for only 24 hours.

    After the hurricane hits, you will need to check out damage to get the other city/state departments working (power poles down, etc). You'll be responding to a lot of alarms. Your department command staff needs to dictate what you will and will not respond to immediately before you shut down the roads and immediately after you shut down the roads.

    I didn't intend this to be this long, but if you have questions, let me know.

    ETA: Yes, our radios went to crap. We had a digital system and the hurricane moved some of the dishes so they weren't working as well. We had the UHF as a backup and used it too.

    You can drive in it, you just need to be careful. Pretty much emergency response doesn't exist. There will be a lot of debris. I almost had a snapped telephone pole fall on me (didn't realize it. It was night and the bottom part was gone, only hanging up by the wires) when we were backing the ambulance. Needless to say, we got the hell out of dodge rapidly. You will have random roads closed due to trees.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  4. SCSU74

    SCSU74 St. Cloud Proud

    Jul 24, 2010
    The Northwoods
    i would take a vacation for a few days.... :)
  5. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    We stop responding when winds get to about 40. Even an absolute emergency may be too dangerous to warrant risking an officer/EMT/firefighter life. Its a judgement call but you may be able to do some press release that helps to explain non-response.

    During the worst find a solid place and ride it out. A parking garage or similar may help save the cruisers. If you do find yourself out in the extreme wind put the car into the wind before you open the door, or plan on posibly having one less door. If you can order additional tires/wheels. Nails and debris will give you lots of flats.

    Alot of the cell system and land line system relies on battery back up for some lines. They can hold up well during power outages for hours but not days. Cell systems will quickly be overloaded.

    Make sure your telephone lines have TSP
    and check with your cell phone provider as they should have the same

    Radio systems seem to vary. We lost little during the last hurricanes and our worst problem was a microwave dish that got out of line. Your radio folks should be able to tell you where you can talk if you loose the system. Radio folks from up and down the coast will (probably) attempt to get your system back up, having taken a page from the power companies. (After a storm hits power companies pool resources and your local power company will have companies coming from hundreds or thousands of miles away to help.) Have a plan if you loose the radio system completely - possibly position guys at fire stations/schools/hospitals where they can answer a land line then respond. Certainly not the best but better than giving up. Mostly of course, be safe.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  6. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Have plenty of food, water, change of clothes, any medications you might with you in case you get stuck on shift forever and a day. Wouldn't hurt to have access to a chain saw and gasoline either. Heavy work gloves in case you get stuck moving debris.
  7. NC Bullseye

    NC Bullseye

    Aug 14, 2006
    Watch for the normally safe situations to be dangerous.

    Watch where you step, the debris from a storm has sharp stuff that can cause you major damage. Watch for animals that are dislocated and looking for new abodes. Both gas and electric will be where they were not anticipated nor designed to be.

    Check your prescription meds and make sure you are good for at least 30 days.

    Be safe, make sure you have a call tree that includes an out of state contact point for your family if local comms go south for a while.

    Hang on and stay alert.

    Our thoughts are with ya.
  8. Kahr_Glockman


    Feb 26, 2005
    Make sure to have extra batteries, and recharge the rechargeables before the incident. I grew up in Houston and lived there until 1995, so I have seen my share of Hurricanes. My dad was a Harris County deputy during Alicia, and several other tropical systems.

    A camping lantern is good to have, as it provides large amounts of light, and can run for hours.

    Fill the tubs the day the hurricane hits, before the lights go out, that way you have a way to flush toilets. Nothing worse than having to leave a floater in the pool because you cant flush.

    As far as your guys go, ground them until the incident is over. If not you will be trying to get one of them after they blow off the road. This system will have the potential to drop catastrophic amounts of water in minutes. Places that dont normally flood, will be overwhelmed and the water wont have anywhere to go but into buildings, and basements.

    Check your sump-pump in your basement and ensure that it is working, and if you have a generator make sure that it is hooked up properly and functioning. This is for the pump, not to run TVs and stuff. Flood insurance is a big thing for something like this. There is a reason you dont see basements in Houston.

    Make sure your guys have a small tool set or Leathermans. They may be first respoders to gas leaks, falling buildings, or other rescue type scenarios. Those tools are invaluable to have. Your radios will go to ****, expect to lose your tower repeaters. Cell Phone towers have a moderate backup battery, but they will be drained in short order because the mouth breathers wont get off the damn phone, and I expect that kids will be doing Facebook updates from their smartphones once the internet crashes. Text messages are much more compact, and take less bandwidth to transmit. They will go through almost always.

    Wear an old uniform, and have an extra set. You will get very dirty, and will probably tear holes in your clothes. Wear good boots. You will need them. If you can make sure they are waterproof, as when the massive amounts of water starts rushing, wierd debris shows up and clogs the drain systems.

    Now with all of that said, you may come out just fine, the storm may just speed up when it crosses Kitty Hawk. That happens alot when storms hit land. Nothing my happen to your local. You know what they say though, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
  9. Hedo1


    Oct 1, 2007
    SE Pennsylvania
    Food and water for a week or more is always good advice.

    Have a roll poly sheeting (6 mil thick) and a few 2X4's and box of nails handy. You can fix a lot with just those items.

    Got a chain saw? If you don't buy one. If you do, start it up and make sure you have some fuel or mix that it runs on. Lastly but an electric sump pump. Learn how to run it off a 12V battery in case you need to pump out the basement. You can charge it with your car but don't let it run completely down.
  10. profiler999


    Jan 20, 2010
    Birmingham, AL
    Biggest threat is losing utilities if your not in a flood zone. Essentials are water, food, etc just like in any natural disaster.

    After Katrina, we had no cell phones, land lines or electricity for 48 hours. Yes, it was that bad. We really didn't know it could get worse after the "real" impact was made clear.

    A nice addition is a bucket. Sometimes your roof shingles will come off resulting in water coming inside house. A bucket in time can ward off a potential disaster of sheetrock staining, etc. No bucket, use a pot.

    So, hunker down, stay inside, resist the urge to site see. It's loud and scary but it will end.
  11. Kahr_Glockman


    Feb 26, 2005
    I was a deputy in a border county, were inland by 500 miles, and the storm when it hit us was a rain maker. I got called out at 5am to start closing roads, and monitoring the storm.

    We had a crossing that when the water started going over the road it got caught up in a fence. That fence caught all sorts of debris, and trash and started the water backing up. We had to cut the fence in order to keep the water from backing up worse than it already was. Did I mention that a leatherman is a must?

    Other than a few things this is no different than a bad blizzard, minus the extreme cold and large amounts of snow. The water brings other hazards. If it is flowing dont go in it. You will be a casualty. 4WD does not garuntee that you will make it. Expect flash flooding. I have a healthy respect for flash flooding, I saw a 20 foot rise in a river in 10 minutes. It was an incredible amount of water.
  12. AngryBassets

    AngryBassets Jagenden Übel

    Just had a chance to check in. Thanks for all the advice so far.

    Right now, we're looking at 75-100 mph winds, 7-12" of rain (at the end of the wettest August in recorded history). After 2 hrs sleep lamenting over the guaranteed loss of my vacation place, guaranteed damage to my home and the ensuing mess, I got up and went to work and actually *did something*.

    Myself and another lt will basically be running the show in a 17 sq mile town with about 37k people. Today, we met with just about everyone involved, and as it stands now, it seems we're prepared. The township's other agencies (DPW, water/sewer dept, Fire, EMS, OEM, and admin) all seem like they're really squared away and ready and eager to get to work.

    As I type this, the other Lt is on the phone with the Twp manager trying to get the supplemental officers approved.

    I plan on grounding the guys during the worst times. The Twp. manager is on board with basically turning on the "leave a message, we'll call you back" greeting on for 911 for a period of time.

    The issue of the storm isn't the severity, it's the fact that this area is totally unfamiliar, unprepared and have no idea what to expect from a storm like this.

    The one thing that leaves me a bit uneasy from a police management standpoint is the focus on the planning for actions during the storm, but not much focus on afterwards. That, I suspect, will be interesting after a few days with no power (something that has never happened in anyone's memory in this area).

    Local utilities are saying "at best, 48 hours, at worst, two weeks". :help:

    I've noted alot of what's been posted and I'm composing another email to the troops in another window. I plan on parking my CVPI behind the building where it will sit till the worst passes...

    Keep the suggestions/stories coming...
  13. RVER


    Aug 3, 2004
    1) New rubber trash can (20 plus Gal) for fresh water.
    2) Plenty of bar/chain oil for your chain saw and a round file to keep it sharp.
    3) Insurance papers in a secure dry place.
    4) Rather than using fresh water to flush toilets, we use a 5 Gal. bucket with a snap
    on toilet seat and garden lime to cover the mess.
    5) Coleman propane stove and lantern with lots of propane.
    6) Lots of bug juice - deep woods off, Tiki torch fluid...

    Best wishes - stay safe.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  14. MAGlock

    MAGlock CLM

    Nov 20, 2005
    Titusville, FL
    If you park your vehicle behind your building, pull it in to protect the engine and radiator from the wind and rain.

    Also check around your facilities and secure anything that can be blown around.

    Power lines and trees will come down during the storm, be very careful and don't drive over any cables. While you may not be shocked, it may catch and be dragged by your vehicle.

    Fill up / top off all vehicles before the hurricane hits.
  15. AngryBassets

    AngryBassets Jagenden Übel

    My dad (a retired chief) lives a few doors down from me; he just bought a $1000 Honda generator. So at least I'll have a fridge.

    My SUVs are gassed and backed up against the garage door; I fully expect a maple in my yard to remodel my roof.

    Batteries are charged; my wife can charge her iPhone in my wranger which I parked in the garage (ratty soft top would be destroyed). My house has enough canned goods and other stuff to get us through a few days. Hell, my trailer was stocked for another week of vacation so I have plenty of water, soda and beer!

    We have the patrols going around and checking in at business and residences where there's stuff lying around which will be missiles tomorrow night.
  16. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

    Sounds like you are doing what is needed. I assume that the community you're in has an amateur radio club. They can be very helpful when most other communications are down.
  17. Misty02


    Aug 25, 2008
    The danger from a tree that falls on your house is to the roof and windows. Our windows are covered with metal shutters during the storm, so that leaves the roof as the weak link in the whole structure.

    Driving after the storm can be challenging depending on the amount of debris on the road. Personally I have 4 fix-a-flats in addition to a full size spare wheel. Driving to work the day after Andrew I ended up with 2 flat tires. After Wilma cell phones were pretty much useless unless you were outside near the Turnpike. Lots of dropped calls, but I never heard the phone ring.

    Leave cash (low denominations) for your wife. If stores have no power credit cards and debit cards will be useless. People can’t make change without the use of a register and it’s best to avoid confrontations with clerks that don’t wish to be there in the first place. Get a battery operated fan and lots of batteries. During Andrew I learned there was nothing worse than having three little one bored, hot and tired. Some air will help them (and you) be able to sleep. Keep a cheap non-electrical phone at home to use with your land-line, cordless phones won’t work.

    Depending on how well prepared gas stations, grocery stores, etc are up there you may see lots of lines and some fights from the crowds you least likely expected. Tempers will flare easier the longer you are without power.

    If it is anything like in Florida, they’ll have multiple officers for each intersection and long shifts covering those. Keep a cooler with plenty of cold water for yourself.

    Beef up your medical emergency kit, you’ll have plenty of cuts and bruises from the clean up and removal of debris. Regardless of how hot it is, long sleeves, gloves, jeans and boots will help minimize those. Don’t forget sun-block for your face and insect repellent once the sun starts to come down.

    If they have it there, get a weather radio. I bought ours at Publix , a grocery store for $39.99 (brand Midland). It has the weather radio (activates automatically), AM/FM radio, 3 LCD lights, clock and alarm clock, thermometer, and among other things a USB port that can charge cell phones. It has a built in power generator that recharges the internal rechargeable Ni-MH battery. It can be connected to the electricity, 3 AA batteries or cranked to recharge the internal batteries (good job for the kids)

    FEMA has a pretty good list as far as your supplies for home are concerned: Some of the items listed are links that provide additional important information as respect amounts and types.

    Good luck to you all, I hope all goes well!
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  18. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING should be sent out while tropical force winds or hurricane force winds are active in the area. It is simply to dangerous.

    In the aftermath of hurricane force winds your greatest challenge is going to be being able to get around at all with downed trees, power pole and lines as well as debris from buildings littering the roads.

    The first order of business is clearing roadways, you needs some BIG bulldozers and their job is not to neatly clear debris but to literally bulldoze it out of the way and keep moving to get streets cleared so rescue workers and LE can get where they need to go.
  19. OldCurlyWolf


    Aug 7, 2010
    I have lived through Hurricanes and Tornadoes. Alicia was a Category 3 when she Hit. I was 60 miles inland. If I were you, I would take One day, Move my trailer, wife and kids at least 200 miles inland and make sure all of your windows and doors of your house are covered with 3/4 inch plywood.

    As soon as possible there after, I would find a job somewhere other than Jersey.:steamed:
  20. Arvinator


    Jan 16, 2011
    While I do not live near the coast, my small town was flooded and basically cut in half and my last police chief left me and one other cop in the whole town to work, putting the numbers to work in daylight hours.
    I carried small bills of cash for the one open store, canned goods like potted meat, spam and beanie weinie, and crackers. Cheap, easy to carry and fill your stomach. I carried a large water jug in the trunk, and wore a older uniform with my older duty boot. In the trunk, I had a pair of fireman's boots the local FD had in reserve (Thanks guys) and a change in the trunk. Carried several flashlights, and while my home was high and dry the wife had as many lights, a wind up radio, and loaded guns as well. We did not lose power, but were told we could easily be in the dark. Coleman Campstove and 4 gallons of fuel for the house ready to cook. crowbar, axe, tow chain, and mose small tools I carried for my benefit as well rope and life jacket.
    don't forget your pets and toilets. I scrounged every old bucket/milk jug/ water jog possible just for the throne and my old dogs, not tapping into my 14 day supply of water I keep on hand at all times. MRE's? had a few, and after the flood, gained 2 cases more for helping local Nat. Guard who showed up 3 days later.
    Good Luck, God Bless, and you are in my Prayers...