5 Tips learned from hurricane evacuation

When Hurricane Irma was waiting to see where she wanted to go, my sister in Virginia said, “Why don’t you evacuate here?”

I laughed. “We don’t evacuate to Virginia!”

One week later we were  headed north on I-95.

I have lived in hurricane zones all of my life, and on the Florida East Coast since 1994, and still there are things to learn.

Lesson 1: If you make hotel reservations online, call the front desk directly. I thought I had reservations at a Holiday Inn in Flagler County. Luckily, I called to verify they would take my dogs – was told they wouldn’t. Then I was told that they were closing for the hurricane and were only notifying the people who called the front desk.

This was a Wednesday – we weren’t scheduled to check in until Saturday, the day before the storm. Too late to find appropriate accommodations.

A quick call to Flagler Enterprise car rental and we were headed north to Virginia in a cargo van.

Lesson 2: Bigger is better. After taking an area rug and covering the metal floor of the van I was able to put both dog crates, the cat crate, and the bird-cage inside. No one was extremely happy about this, but everyone was safe.

Lesson 3: Harnesses. We have always used collars on our dogs with no problem. This trip the dogs were slipping out of them during rest stop walks. Seriously, I would look away to watch one dog, look back and see a dog (fortunately) standing next to his collar. We bought harnesses for both for the trip.

Lesson 4: Be up front with the staff about your pets. Stay in hotels where they are welcome. I got a break for the nightly pet fee even though there were three. They  have to super clean the room after anyway, so 1 or 3 pets it doesn’t matter. Now is not the time to try to hide a pet in your room. Believe me, there’s enough drama in your life already!

Lesson 5: Talk to the cleaning staff. Let them know if you are not in the room, the pets will be in their crates. This will help them considerably. If you are in your room, or going to breakfast and leaving them out, put the “do not disturb” sign on the handle.

One last thought:

Please realize, your pets, like kids, feed off your emotions. They have no idea what’s happening and why you are upset. Spend some time with them and try to take long walks.

The second morning one of the dogs peed on a throw rug and the bed skirt in the room. He doesn’t do that normally. The cleaning carts were out and I asked for some cleaner and a rag and was able to clean it myself. They offered to come clean it, but I thought that was going above and beyond, and since we ended up staying in that hotel for a week, it was good PR for a pup that was just nervous.




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