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Hurricane Irma has already killed at least 10 people in the Caribbean, and it could slam into Florida by early Sunday morning. The Category 5 storm is the most potent Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever, with winds of 180 mph as of Thursday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency, and officials have imposed mandatory evacuation orders on parts of the Miami metro area and the Florida Keys. On Thursday morning, the governor said about 31,000 people had already evacuated the keys as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.

While the hurricane is predicted to hit Miami and batter Florida’s east coast, its cone of possible tracks covers the entire state, so Scott has urged all Florida residents to prepare for Irma.

But the storm will likely not stop with Florida; forecasters say it could also impact Georgia and South Carolina as it travels up the coast.

Jeffrey Yago, a certified energy professional with more than 40 years of experience in the energy and emergency power field, told WND it’s too late at this point for Americans in Irma’s path to prepare any major backup power systems for their homes in case the power gets knocked out. However, he said there are still measures people can take to prepare.

“I would certainly be scooping up all the batteries I could find,” he advised. “That would be the No. 1 thing. They want to think about maybe some larger LED yard lights. Those are rechargeable and people can put them outside in the daytime to charge up and then use them at night. I don’t think people will be thinking about yard lights right now, so they might still be available.”

Yago goes into detail about how to charge and install LED yard lights, as well as how to replace essentially any grid-powered device with a battery-powered one, in his informative do-it-yourself manual “Lights On: The Non-Technical Guide to Battery Power When the Grid Goes Down.”

Yago has personal experience with surviving a Category 5 hurricane. He lived in Victoria, Texas, in 1961 when Hurricane Carla slammed into the Gulf Coast, killing 34 people and destroying 1,915 homes and 568 farm buildings.

Yago had to evacuate along with everybody else in his small town. He told WND it was a devastating storm.

“It was like Hurricane Harvey that just hit because it didn’t just blow through, it came basically inland and then sat on top of Victoria for a day-and-a-half, just pounding us with wind and rain and flooding,” he recalled. “It was probably the reason I’m more concerned today about being prepared, given the major trauma in my youth.”

Will you be ready when the lights go out? Widespread, long-term power outages are almost certain to occur in the future. Find out how you can prepare in Jeffrey Yago’s “Lights On: The Non-Technical Guide to Battery Power When the Grid Goes Down,” available at the WND Superstore.

Yago said he had to evacuate to a school during Carla, and he spent several days sleeping on top of a hard school desk. He encourages Florida residents to prepare themselves for such a situation.

“If these people have to evacuate, assuming they don’t have things like sleeping bags and camping supplies, I would at least be grabbing some heavy blankets so if they have to sleep on the floor somewhere, they could sleep on some blankets,” Yago said. “Of course, some pillows would be great, and flashlights, LED flashlights for sure.”

Gov. Scott underscored the importance of preparedness when he warned Floridians, “We’re not going to be able to save people once the storm hits.”

Yago agrees people in Irma’s path should not count on the government to help them through the storm.

“If you go back to Hurricane Sandy [in 2012], we had the most advance warning of any hurricane ever as far as the devastation,” he remembered. “It was going to wreak havoc on Long Island and the northeastern coast of the country. But we had a week of the weather reports saying this was going to be a perfect storm, the worst storm ever, and yet FEMA did not pre-position any generators. They were advertising contracts for emergency food and supplies a week after Hurricane Sandy hit, so I just don’t think our government agencies are really equipped to handle major disasters.”

Therefore, people need to assume the burden of preparation themselves, according to Yago. And their biological needs must be the top priority.

“I think people right now need to think in terms of they may not have any help, at least not for days, and drinking water is going to be the No. 1 priority,” Yago said. “I think a lot of people are going to be evacuating, so there’s all kinds of water purification bottles available, and I carry one in every car I have. It’s about a quart-sized bottle that has a water filter in it, and you can scoop the water right out of a gutter and it makes it 100 percent pure to drink.”

WND offers an Emergency Personal Water Straw Filter in the WND Superstore. It filters up to 264 gallons, or 1,000 liters, of contaminated water, allowing people to drink directly from puddles or streams in an emergency situation in which clean drinking water is not readily available.

The filter is just one item in the WND Superstore’s extensive Preparedness section, which offers solar-powered radios, emergency long-term food kits, lanterns, pre-packed disaster survival kits and many other items that could come in handy for anyone whose life gets upended by a hurricane.

Will you be ready when the lights go out? Widespread, long-term power outages are almost certain to occur in the future. Find out how you can prepare in Jeffrey Yago’s “Lights On: The Non-Technical Guide to Battery Power When the Grid Goes Down,” available at the WND Superstore.

 

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