Florida Guide > Accommodation
How to cope with a Hurricane when staying in a Villa
If you are staying in a villa during the months June to November, there is a chance that you will have to cope with a Hurricane. September is the most likely month, but it could happen anytime during the Hurricane Season.
Firstly, do not be too concerned. There will be a lot of information for you, and a well built villa is usually safe. Most damage is caused to structures like mobile homes (Manufactured homes) which will be under mandatory evacuation at that time and full instructions will be given to you if you are staying in one.
But to prepare, if you are going in Hurricane season, ask your villa owner (or Tour Operator if you have booked through an agent) what facilities they provide (if any) For example, we have a Hurricane box which our Property Managers would get out for you. This contains a single burner gas stove, flashlights and spare batteries, electronic candles, matches, a NOAA wind up radio, tin opener and ziplock bags (I will come to those later! )
As soon as you find out that a Hurricane could possibly hit Florida, stock up with water - at least 1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days (in case the water goes out) Do not delay; everyone will be doing the same thing and if you snooze you lose - water is the first thing that disappears off the shelves.
Next, fill your vehicle with petrol, again this disappears fast.
Then, get at least 3 days of food. This should be non perishable if possible. We got a lot of tinned soup as we had a burner.
Ask your Management company what they are providing or if you know there is a box, to get it for you.
Check any flashlights are working, replace any batteries, and top up with anything else you think useful, remember that there is a good chance that you will lose power for a time! Ask where there are buckets.
Back to ziplock bags - if you have been unsuccessful in finding bottled water, fill ziplock bags with water (filtered if possible but not essential) and freeze. It can be a bit tricky getting them propped up so they don’t spill but worth the effort. If the power goes they will help keep the freezer cold for longer, and then you can drink the water (top tip from the Weather Channel)
Bring all patio furniture inside, and the bins; anything that the wind could get hold of.
Investigate your safe spaces. Safe spaces are those without a window, and could be walk-in closets, laundry rooms, internal bathrooms. Plan where each person is going to stay. We use patio furniture to sit on, loungers for a sleep, but you could put mattresses down if necessary.
Arrange to have some non electrical entertainment for children; books, games, colouring etc.
The Weather Channel (27) and the local news channel (13) will have all the information that you need to keep you informed.
On the day the Hurricane is due, get everything into place, chairs, loungers, mattresses, hurricane supplies. Clear out anything you don’t need (i. e. clothes in the closet) to another room. Fill any baths with water (to flush toilets if the water goes off) and ensure there are buckets available.
Ensure that all mobile phones are fully charged at all times.
Keep watching the weather/local channels to see how close the Hurricane is going to get to you and when. If you are on the fringes, it may not be necessary to go to the safe rooms (Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was like that; very windy and rainy, but that was all). If you are in the path of it, or the weather channels are predicting Tornado’s anywhere near you then get into the safe rooms and stay there until it is over. The TV stations are pretty good at estimating when things are going to happen and for how long. You can also monitor the situation on the radio if you have one.
When the worst is over, you can return to the main rooms. Phone a relative to let them know that you are ok and ask them to spread the word. You may have lost power, but the mobile towers are pretty resilient and you will probably get a signal.
If you have been close to the Hurricane there is a good chance you will have lost power. With Irma we lost power for about 18 hours, but a lot of communities around Orlando lost it for over a week.
You will probably have a curfew imposed for at least 24 hours, and if the power is off that can be pretty boring, but if you have the books etc it should help.
Assess any damage and let the management company know as soon as possible.
Be aware that once you can come out of the villa, there may be food supply shortages. It was quite difficult getting fresh bread, milk, water and fruit for about a week after Irma.
Stay safe, and don’t worry about it too much; you will be fine.
Author: Stephen and Wendy Downs
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