hurricane supplies checklist

Hurricane season starts on June 1st — are you ready? Let me show you how to get prepared for hurricane season, without spending a fortune.

I first moved to Houston three days before Hurricane Ike hit. I had lost my job in June of 2008, which was the only thing keeping me in South Florida. Paul had lost his job just two weeks before me, and he was the first to find a good job offer in an area of the country that we both found acceptable (we decided to move to either Colorado, Washington D.C./ Virginia area, or Houston). I found my job in late August, had my belongings shipped in the second week of September, and was all set to start my first day of work on Monday, September 15th.

I remember the incessant phone calls from my family in PA while unpacking and moving boxes as they watched the hurricane grow and move closer to where their daughter had just moved to. I was too busy to give it much thought, and Paul reassured me that hurricanes happen all the time in Texas. My parents pleaded with us to leave and a cousin of mine in Dallas called and offered his home up to us. We decided to stay, boxed in with the belongings from my 850 square foot apartment. On September 12th—exhausted from lifting and sorting—I headed out to the grocery store and stocked us up on whatever was left: bread, chef Boyardee, canned chili, peanut butter, crackers, etc.

Most of you remember what happened next. Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas at 2:10 a.m. on September 13th, 2008. I slept through most of it (I can sleep through just about anything!). When I woke up at around 7:00 the next morning I looked out of the window in our living room and thought I was looking at a movie screen—the branches and leaves on trees were almost horizontal, debris was all over the streets, and there was monsoon-type rainfall. In the afternoon as well as over the next two weeks neighbors whom we had never met rolled up their sleeves together to clean up debris, opened up their homes, and let others use their electricity (remember driving down the streets with the thud of electrical cords running from house to house under your tires?).

While we have been very fortunate during the two hurricane seasons since here in Texas, another season is quickly approaching. If you haven’t done so all ready, it’s time to stock up and I’d like to discuss some strategies to save money on your hurricane stockpile and supplies.

  • Keep your Receipts: If you haven’t used your supply of non-perishable items by the end of this hurricane season, donate the food and get a receipt so that you can use it as a deduction for next year (if you itemize your taxes).
  • Buy Ahead of Time: The easiest way to save money on a hurricane stockpile is to build the purchasing into your grocery shopping throughout the year. It may be too late for this strategy for this hurricane season, but try to incorporate it for next hurricane season. As canned and non-perishable foods go on sale throughout the year, clip coupons and purchase several items each grocery trip. This will also keep you from the stores leading up to a hurricane which will save you from long lines, franticness, and dwindling product.
  • Buddy up with a Neighbor: I was really taken aback by how helpful and encouraging everyone was after Hurricane Ike—it was touching. Find a neighbor or two who are willing to share responsibility for building up a stockpile for both of you/your families. Take inventory of what you both have, and then discuss who can find the best prices on which food items. Be sure to discuss how the food will be divided up after the season is over.
  • Purchase from Drugstores: Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid have large and ever-expanding grocery aisles and each week they run specials on non-perishable food items that will beat your grocery store’s price. If you play the drugstore game like I do, you can use your ExtraCare Bucks to stock up. If you don’t usually shop at drugstores, look for the “free” product that they advertise each week. Purchase this product and receive in-store credit (whether Walgreens Register Rewards or CVS ExtraCare Bucks). Then, use this in-store credit to purchase non-perishable items for your hurricane stock pile. You will walk away with a toiletry item as well as something to add to your stockpile for the price of a bottle of shampoo or a tube of toothpaste. You can also build your first aid kit by shopping the weekly sales.
  • Buy Dented and Bruised: Stockers dent cans, boxes get pushed, and things happen to the appearance of packaged foods all the time. While there is nothing physically wrong with the food inside of the package, most consumers refuse to purchase the product at full retail. Take advantage of this by perusing the clearance section of your grocery store. You could score some great non-perishable food items at 50%+ off of its retail price.
  • Shop During No-Sales Tax Days: Different states which are prone to hurricanes have time periods where you can purchase certain hurricane supplies, tax-free. For example, in Texas, April 27-29, 2019 is when you can purchase your hurricane supplies tax-free. Items included are batteries, axes, generators, can openers, and all kinds of things you might need. Other states that have offered tax-free time periods in the past include Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana.

Hurricane Supply Lists to Check Out:

BuildaKit.gov
TexasPrepares.org

10 replies
  1. Money Beagle
    Money Beagle says:

    Wow, that’s amazing that you could sleep through a hurricane or storm of that size coming through. It is nice to hear how people come together in those times. I wish that people would be able to carry that attitude forward in times of non-crisis. The world would be a better place for sure!

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Hahahaha–yes, I get the sleep thing from my father!

      I wish that was the case as well. Makes you wonder if that is the reason why we have disasters–to bring people together and to remind everyone what is important.

      Reply
  2. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Save money by saving money….

    Since the end of last hurricane season I have been saving spare change and money in a lady bug bank. This is my “hurricane fund,” when power is out credit card machines and ATM’s don’t work. This way I have a nice sum of cash to buy food or even a night in a hotel room.
    After hurrican season is over I use whatever money is left over as my gambling money (which I know isnt frugal…but I do save for it).

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Great idea Michelle!

      We have this adorable cow ‘piggy’ bank we purchased on our honeymoon in Austria that we are slowly filling with change…but we don’t have a purpose or goal for it yet. I like your idea!

      Reply
  3. krantcents
    krantcents says:

    Do you remember reading about the Northridge earthquake? I lived in Northridge and would have slept through it except my wife woke me up! It felt like I was on a roller coaster. The only damage we had was a loss of some glassware. The aftermath was far worse, no water or electricity for days. Ever since, we are more prepared for disasters.

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Wow–sleeping through an earthquake! When I lived in Japan there were a few earthquakes during the night and I woke up for them. I guess I can’t sleep through everything after all…Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  4. June
    June says:

    Calamities take a toll on our lives no matter how we prepare for them. However, those who are three steps ahead have a greater chance of getting through the disaster and recovering. Thank you for the insightful tips. I hope your readers will be as informed as I am through this.

    Reply
  5. PennyPincher
    PennyPincher says:

    Great article, glad to hear you’ve kept safe in past hurricane seasons. The tip on buying ahead of time as well as purchasing dented or bent packaged products can also be a fast and easy way to save a few dollars year-round. Allow the transition to and from hurricane season to be an easier one by, like you said, planning year-round and incorporating this time into our budgets. I bet that after a few years in the making, the difference you accrue would add up to a hefty net savings amount. Take care during this hurricane season and happy savings!

    Reply
  6. Garrett Gwiazda
    Garrett Gwiazda says:

    This hurricane season is looking to be very active. We already have a pretty strong tropical wave to the West of Jamaica and conditions are somewhat favorable for development. What bothers me is that we are in a La Nina pattern and these patterns tend to actually help with development of tropical systems. During a La Nina pattern, upper level winds are usually lighter in the tropics. Lighter upper level winds means that systems can potentially develop easier. So hang on, because this year could be a rough one for tropical storms and hurricanes.

    Garrett Gwiazda
    Meteorologist

    Reply
  7. BRAD DUNN
    BRAD DUNN says:

    This is a great blog post – I enjoyed reading it & gained a lot – on a side note, I am turning big 40 – yes ! I know getting old but that’s a part of life. I am actually quite blessed with a good family & very obedient kids; anyways – as the 40 is hitting I am realizing that I have not done a great job with my retirement planning. One of my wife’s cousin is a an agent with Bankers Life so I reached out to him over the last weekend – it seems that they have great products from life insurance to annuities & they work with individuals to provide great service & plan for the retirement. Does anyone here had any experience &/or know any other companies whom I should checkout before signing up with Bankers Life and Casualty Company. Any feedbacks will a great help – just FYI – I am planning to retire at/around 68 yrs of the age.

    Reply

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