For us in mainland South Florida, Irma was a "practice run" for the real thing. Let's be honest, outside of a few incidents where people were legit injured or died, most of what we've been bitching about is "First World Problems". No power, no internet, etc. Sucks, but BFD, ya know? It'll come back if it hasn't already.
Anywho, lessons learned.
• Clean water is your best friend. Stock up on water, a lot of it. Think a gallon per person per day. While bottled water is great, one can purchase water-specific containers for cheap. You can fill them up with tap water before a storm and save a bundle. Also worth obtaining are water purification kits for if you run low on fresh water or if the municipal water supply is compromised. Also, double check your unused water stash. In store-bought jugs, you will lose some to evaporation even if they are sealed. You can get long-term water storage jugs on Amazon. Also don't be afraid of tub water, it's the same crap that comes out of your sink.
• Batteries. Buy plenty of the common sizes you’ll need for lights and lanterns and electronics. Also handy is to have a large uninterruptible power supply to charge up things like mobile devices and laptops. A large server-grade UPS can keep your devices happy for several charge cycles for a long time. Anker batteries rule, and also you can never have too many AAs.
• Back-up power. Generators are noisy unless you are prepared to spend a little cash for one with a true inverter. Your average jobsite generator only has one setting - "ON", which basically means it delivers it's max power all the time. Which means lots of gas. A generator with an inverter only delivers what it needs to deliver. If you are just powering a fan and some electronics, it's whisper-quiet. But it costs more. $1000 at least. Standby generators cost even more. Solar is an option. Yes, I know there's some scuttlebutt about large-scale solar being illegal in Florida because of FPL, but after a storm, providing for you and yours becomes more important than what FPL thinks. Get a few panels and enjoy. I'm personally considering getting into solar, actually.
• Propane and propane accessories. Your grill is you best friend. It should be anyways. Butane is the bastard's gas. Charcoal is good in my book as well.
• Back-up communication methods. Cellular networks are overwhelmed and can fail during a disaster. I firmly recommend two-way radio communications. Little FRS radios or commercial-grade GMRS (business) radio comes in handy to keep in touch with your family and friends during and after the storm. I borrowed a pair of Motorola GMRS radios from a friend - having a pair was helpful when we were in our "convoy" and cell/text was overwhelmed. If Motorola is a little rich for your blood, then Google around for "Baofeng" - they aren't as robust but they are cheap as hell and function great. Plus you can play around with the firmware. The truly enterprising can get a radio scanner to keep appraised of what emergency services are doing in the area. FYI, those goofy Zello apps don't work. There's some ad hoc options for phones, i.e. Beartooth
, but I haven't tested them.
• Survival food. Think military Meals Ready To Eat, aka MREs, aka Meals Rejected By Ethiopians, aka Meals Ready to Excrete. May or may not be tasty, but they’ll get you going.
• Medicines, first-aid, and so on. You might get sick, or get hurt. Be prepared. Stock up on all the essentials, even if a storm or disaster isn’t imminent. You should have it all anyways.
• Fuel. If you are staying, you’ll need propane or charcoal for the grill if you don’t have a gas stove. If you are going, you’ll need gas for your car. Note, consider carefully where you put your backup gas can - on the back of your car is not advisable. Think of the sobering tale of the Ford Pinto.
• Keep your head on straight. There's a lot of foul-tempered people out there before, during, and after a storm.