One of the unfortunate consequences that come with traveling to gorgeous tropical locations is the threat of cyclones and hurricanes. The Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane season runs June 1 – November 30 each year, and the Pacific cyclone season runs all year long. In general, a location’s low season is their rainy (i.e. hurricane or cyclone) season and, therefore, most tourists won’t experience mother’s nature’s wet fury.
I moved to the Cayman Islands soon after it was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. As soon as I arrived on island, I started to hear stories from the people who had lived through the storm and its aftermath. I learned as much as possible in order to better prepare myself and, after living through 5 hurricane seasons, I’ve tweaked my preparation plans to be more efficient. I started to think of my preparations like I was preparing for a stint on Survivor – just without Jeff Probst and the tribal council.
In the month leading up to the start of rainy season, make a checklist of what you have and what you need. Then slowly start buying supplies so that you don’t need to go on a major shopping trip with thousands of others. By stocking up beforehand, you can avoid the long lineups and the product shortages.
I used to keep all my supplies in Rubbermaid containers; they’re waterproof and easy to transport in case you need to move to a shelter.
Place all your important documents (insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, passport, social security card, etc.) in a waterproof container or watertight re-sealable plastic bag.
Make sure your vehicle fuel tanks are filled and keep a bike on hand. It’ll come in handy to travel over debris-filled roads and in case there’s a fuel shortage.
As you’re getting prepared for your first hurricane season, find out where your closest shelter and hospital are located. Although shelters aren’t fun places to ride out a storm, if your accommodation isn’t sturdy enough to withstand the storm it will be a lifesaver (literally) for you. On June 1st I would change my homepage to the National Hurricane Centre to keep up to date of any disturbances forming in the Atlantic. Not as much fun as Facebook but a lot more informative.
During my time in the Caribbean I had several brushes with hurricanes and tropical storms but thankfully no direct hits. Every December 1 me and my friends would have a potluck party and eat all of our rations to celebrate making it through another season unscathed.