My Hurricane Harvey After Action Review

   09.04.17

An After Action Review (AAR) is when you discuss lessons learned after an event. The goal is to figure out what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to be changed.

In this AAR, we will be discussing how my prepping plans worked during Hurricane Harvey.

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas. The Hurricane was blocked by two ridges of high pressure, one to the east and one to the west. Unable to make progress inland, Harvey went back into the Gulf of Mexico, where it skirted the Texas coast and eventually made a second landfall near Cameron, Louisiana.

As Harvey pushed inland through Louisiana, there was some type of storm-related damage to a main electrical feeder line that supplied power to part of Southeast Texas.  Power went down in the Jasper, Buna, Kirbyville, and Woodville areas. This spans an area close to 100 miles long and about 40 miles wide.

After the power went out is when my preps came into play.

Generator

The generator took a little bit to get cranked. The fuel was fairly new and should not have been the issue.

To get the generator cranked, the bowl of the carburetor was removed, shaken out and put back into place. After that, it cranked with no problems.

Before the generator is returned to shed, the oil needs to the changed, air filter cleaned and the fuel filter replaced. There is no oil filter on the generator, to the oil needs to be changed often.

This is a Coleman Powermate 7200 that was bought during Hurricane Rita in 2005. It is 12 years old and still going strong.

What purpose did the generator serve? It was used to keep the fridge and deep freezer cold. Also, my wife and I have a window AC unit in our bedroom. At night time before bed, we would take the dogs into the bedroom, plug the generator into the window unit and close the bedroom doors. This provided the dogs and us with some relief from the heat.

Water Filter

I normally do not stockpile a lot of bottled water. This is because there is a clear running creek on the property and I filter the water when needed.

My filter setup is a Sawyer PointOne with a Platypus bug mouth bag.  I also have a Royal Berkey with 4 black filters and two Sawyer Minis.

Filter life expectancy:

  • Sawyer PointOne – Up to one million gallons.
  • Royal Berkey – Each black filter provides an estimated 3,000 gallons.  Four filters is an estimated 12,000 gallons.
  • Sawyer Mini – Up to 100,000 gallons.

The Platypous big mouth was filled from the creek, then suspended from a tree limb. Sawyer PointOne was connected in line and everything worked as it was meant to. More importunely, it worked just like it had in the previous tests.

Cooking

Cooking was done with a single burner propane stove, and a dual burner liquid fuel stove that had a propane adapter.

A table was set up outside for cooking. The house was already hot, so we did not need extra heat from cooking inside.

For lunch we had noodles, and for dinner we had hot dogs.

Pots and plates were washed in the creek where sand was used as a scrubbing agent.

I was happy with how things went with the cooking.

Sanitation and Hygiene

My house is connected to a traditional septic system, which does not require electricity. To flush the toilets, a two and a half gallon bucket was used to get water from the creek. All we did was pour the water into the toilet bowl.

Shower was with a Coleman solar shower suspended from an eight foot step ladder.

Filtered water was used to brush our teeth.

In retrospect, I need a couple of more buckets and large stainless steel bowls. It would be nice to have the stainless steel bowls in the sinks for hand washing. The bowls can double as salad bowls.

Communications

The cell phone towers lasted a few hours on generator backup, and then went down. This left us cut off from the outside world.

The Kaito KA 500 AM/FM radio worked well, but I am going to be looking for a radio with better reception. We were able to get local news from KJAS in Jasper.

When we were able to pick up a Houston radio station, the station was not broadcasting a single piece of hurricane related news. It was as if Harvey never existed to the Houston stations.

Solar Panel

The solar panel was used to charge battery packs and lanterns.

The only issue with the solar panel, it is a 20 watt and barely puts out enough power to charge the devices I need.

We did not use a single kerosene lantern while the power was out.

After Action Review Conclusion

The power outage lasted a little more than 24 hours. In that 24 hours, I was able to put just about all of the hurricane-related preps to the test.

I have to say, everything went better than expected.

However, there are certain things that need improvement, such as a larger solar panel.

The Playtpus two liter bag worked well, but I might get a three liter, or a couple of more two liters. Even with just two people, two liters went quick.

I would like to know how everyone else did during Hurricane Harvey. Did your preps work as planned?

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