Hurricane by Car: 10 Tips for Going Home After

September 5, 2008
How do you need to prepare your car for a hurricane--and how do you use it to get out of harm's way quickly? Matt Hardigree over at Jalopnik did a great job this week of laying out the basics in a service piece that didn't once mention Lindsay Lohan, which is sort of a mixed blessing in our book. Otherwise, total golf clap, Matt.

However, the evacuation process is just the beginning. At some point, you have to return with or to your car after a big-ass storm. Luckily, this week's appearance by Hurricane Gustav wasn't as biblically devastating as past Gulf storms--but Hurricane Ike is tracking toward Florida just like the infamous Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

You learn things like that when you get hit, and hit often. I'm a veteran now of four big storms (Ivan, Dennis, Katrina, and Gustav) and much of this month has already been spent on the NOAA hurricane Web page. What you also learn is that you have to prepare for the trip home to God knows what--and your car needs to be ready.

So with Matt's great post in mind, here's TheCarConnection.com's list of 10 things you really need to know for your return.

1) Never let your gas dip below half-full. You don't know when you'll be able to refuel.

2) Bring a compressor if you can, to reinflate deflated tires that allow you to run down the beach where the road used to be.

3) Bring snacks for the National Guard that protects your remaining salvageable crap. Fruit bars and whiskey seem to work.

4) Bring a small trailer or a large gun. If you want to steal Jet-Skis lying around, drop a new motor in them and have title-free fun, bring the former. If you want to keep them from walking away with looters who silently float into town under the cover of night, you'll need the latter.

5) Bring insurance and title for your car as proof of residency to get back in past guards. And bring your property insurance papers because you'll need to memorize them like an actor heading to an audition. Call the car folks first, because if your car is a total loss, you can get a check for rental days and for a new car more quickly than you'll see anything from homeowner's.

6) Don't park on the streets. Humvees need to pass without clipping wrought-iron balconies. Give 'em a wide berth.

7) Don't bring a car too small. You need to carry plywood, 2x4s, steel cabling, tarps, a toolbox, and portable sawhorses. If not for yourself, for a neighbor or a friend.

8) Bring a wind-up radio and leave it in your car with blankets and Powerbars and some bottled water. You just never know.

9) Bring cash. You'll need to barter with the natives and if your car breaks down, good luck on running a credit-card number when power's out for three weeks.

10) Bring a sense of humor. Dark works best. When you come home to a car buried in six feet of sand, the road strewn with toilets (the houses that are long gone lose their heaviest debris on shore), your family pictures plastered together, and a patch of sun where your ceiling fan used to be, it's best to laugh about it and hope the claim adjustors you called can get to you in a month.

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