Thoughts, as Hurricane Harvey descends on Texas

As I type this, Hurricane Harvey has made landfall on the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane. The impacts to Austin? I’m getting light rain and occasional gusts of wind, but nothing huge yet – that’s still to come as Harvey works its way further inland.

We’ve done our best to prepare for this event. I’ve also been watching those around me and how they have – or haven’t – prepared. This isn’t to chastise anyone, except maybe myself. I just wanted to share a few things learned.

Time is your friend (or enemy).

The earlier you prepare, the easier things are. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to prepare.

Case in point. We knew Harvey was coming and headed to the grocery store earlier in the week. Supplies were plentiful, lines were no different than normal. Even picking up a few last minute items Friday morning wasn’t too bad. But as Friday wore on, even by mid-morning, I was seeing reports and pictures from all around Austin of empty shelves and long checkout lines.


This is my biggest hole: lack of a generator. It’s been on my list for quite some time, but it’s so rare to need it it just fell off my radar.

Now I’m kicking myself.

What makes Harvey so painful is it’s predicted to just sit – and dump rain and wind for days. It’s likely we’ll lose electricity, and then for how long?

Time is not on my side here. I didn’t use it to my advantage. And a strong consideration is not just the duration of the event itself, but the aftermath and time it will take to recover.

So while I have power, I’m going to be spending time researching what to buy. I have received a lot of good input from folks I trust, and I won’t let this happen.

Learning from mistakes

So with my big mistake of the lack of generator, what else did I fail at and can learn from?

Managing stress. Not just my own stress, but the stress of my family. We’ve bitten each other’s heads off during this, as we’ve tried to determine our best course of action. We understand, we’re over it now, but it still didn’t add to the fun.

I’m also trying to not monitor the weather reports so much. Obsessively checking reports really has driven our stress levels up. Major updates will only come every few hours, and things will be what they will be. Anything truly critical we should receive alerts about. Meantime, find other ways to stay happy and occupied.


One big thing I’m thankful for are friends like Paul Martin. He’s not only one of the kindest and most generous people I know, but he’s a serious and level-headed prepper. I’ve learned much from him over the years (and I still fall very short of the things I should be doing). I find his leadership invaluable. I see so many people turning to him for advice and knowledge, and he generously provides it. Thank you, Paul.


6 thoughts on “Thoughts, as Hurricane Harvey descends on Texas

  1. Wise to not focus on TV too much. The weather people get excited and want to prepare people but they don’t consider all the people in their viewing area that they are needlessly scaring. (I also have to assume their managers don’t mind the hype as it raises viewership.) When Andrew came through S. Florida back in ’92 we were blessed to have Bryan Norcross as the local reporter. He was very wise to this and was very calming and gave people good advice throughout the event. You only really need to pay attention to the NWS (National Weather Service) reports that come out two times a day. So get hooked up for those.

    Another thing to consider about power. If you don’t have it consider getting radiant barrier as it will keep your house cooler (when the sun finally comes out). Also a full size deep cycle battery and inverter to run some fans for cooling. And Frog Toggs to help with cooling. You might already use those at the range during the Summer. Also hot weather clothes (not cotton). The generator takes fuel and creates noise so a couple of downsides there. Consider a solar panel and controller for recharging your batteries. If you want to DIY that it will take some research time or you can buy something prepackaged from Goal Zero route or similar. For Andrew power was out for a long time, like at least a week if I recall correctly. But being this far inland that’s probably not going to happen, unless there might be tornado damage.

    That’s all that comes to mind for now. Sounds like you and you family did OK.

    • I’m actually staying away from the weather people and looking at actual NOAA data. But there are some other places I go to (e.g. Texas Storm Chasers) and well, with NOAA you know when the next update will be. With others you don’t. And so I refresh, and refresh… maybe now an update? maybe now? Then the wife and kids doing it too, and it just ramped up stress levels.

      We do have radiant barrier.

      Good thoughts on power. Yeah, the fuel/noise factor is one reality I’m already aware of — there will be chains to secure them, for sure. Good idea about the battery and solar tho, as that can be a good way to keep some things going, avoid the noise, and also just load on the generator (i.e. leave it for the fridge, etc.). Now that you mention it, I think Karl has a Goal Zero — I’ll have to double-check.

      So far we’re doing ok. Just you know how it is – every time you do something, there’s something worth learning. So I’m looking for those learning points and places to improve.

  2. I recommend a propane generator. Propane is easier to store than gas and can be safely stored in larger quantities. Our 4kw generator runs propane and we plan to run it 4hrs on 4hrs off to power our fridge and freezer full of meat – that’s it (and charge cellphones and computers). We can run for a long time that way. Lights will be provided by caldles and oil lamps.

  3. Lessons From Ike – we were without power for 16 days. In the beginning neighborhood generator noise was almost overwhelming. As time went on many began going silent.

    One evening as I completed my daily fuel refill/oil change routine one of my neighbors strolled over and asked why my generator was still running when his had quit and wouldn’t restart.

    “How often did you change the oil?”

    “You have to change the oil?”

    Yeppers, if you run one nearly 24 hours a day you probably ought to consider changing the oil once in a while.

    • Motors. How do they work?

      Actually, I hope to get my homework done well enough by the time Harvey is over. Because I expect to see a LOT of never/light-used generators on Craigslist.

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