Your first jolt may be the wind’s scream.
But what follows could kill youwashing-machine waves, angry flooding, trees and power lines thrown like Pik-Up Stiks, squashed buildings and drinking water poisoned with toxic chemicals.
As Floridians hunker down for the Category 5 Hurricane Irma, a week or so after Hurricane Harvey bedeviled coastal Texas and Louisiana, those in the Sunshine State will see anything but sunshine if the storm hits this weekend as predicted.
If you’re a Floridian, and likely versed in the matter of hurricanes, you know that being prepared can help ease later problems. With that in mind, TheStreet will update you on the storm’s path, how to protect yourself, sources of supplies, what the government and the private sources are doing to help and which industries will need to reboot.
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Hurricane Irma Already Impacting the Economy Before Landfall It’s hard to predict the path that Irma will take when it comes to Florida. It isn’t whether the Sunshine State will get hit, but rather, how hard it will get hit. That’s got Florida residents flocking to gas stations like it’s the 1973 oil crisis, while home improvement retailers like Home Depot Inc. (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW) , bulk goods stores like Costco Wholesale (COST) and generator companies like Generac Holdings Inc. (GNRC) all have climbing stock prices.
Hurricane Irma Set to Shut In Major Florida, Caribbean Petroleum Hubs U.S. energy companies that stand to take at least minor hits if current storm projections prove true include Chevron Corp. (CVX) , Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) , Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) and Targa Resources Corp. (TRGP) .
All of these companies operate terminals or pipelines in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. According to the Port Everglades website, one fifth of Florida’s energy requirements come from petroleum that is stored and distributed by companies located at Port Everglades. More than 12.5 million gallons of petroleum products are delivered on tank ship and barges to Port Everglades per day, according to the website. Port Everglades provides petroleum, including jet fuel, to 12 counties in Florida. Buckeye Partners, Chevron, Exxon, Marathon, and Targa are among 12 companies with facilities in Port Everglades, which is among the largest petroleum storage hubs in Florida. Other major Florida storage hubs include Tampa and Jacksonville, both of which may be impacted by the storm. For Buckeye Partners, a hit from Irma would add to its recent headaches. The company’s shares have fallen more than 8% in the past month since it whiffed on second quarter earnings estimates a month ago .
Hurricane Irma Unleashes Fury on Insurance Stocks. Universal Insurance (UVE) tumbled 16.9%, Federated National (FNHC) fell 15.3% and Heritage Insurance (HRTG) dropped 14.2% on Tuesday in anticipation of Irma. Others, like HCI Group Inc. (HCI) and United Insurance (UIHC) also fell 14.7% and 9%, respectively. All but HCI are lower again on Wednesday.
These bore the brunt of the decline as they have heavy exposure to Florida, but Travelers (TRV) , Allstate Corp (ALL) , Chubb Ltd. (CB) and others fell hard, too, with these three stocks dropping 3%, 2.7% and ~2%, respectively.
The Waffle Index
Ever hear of the Waffle House Index? You’re not alone. But, it’s an important and unexpected tool for FEMA and government agencies. The premise is simple – the number of Waffle Houses that remain open during a natural disaster lets government agencies know how well a community is fairing. Watch this video for more:&nb sp;Watching the Waffle Index Ahead of Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma May Cost Florida’s Enormous Tourist Industry Millions of Dollars. Tourism is Florida’s top resource, so closures at central Florida theme parks including Walt Disney Co.-owned (DIS) Walt Disney World, Comcast Corp.’s (CMCSA) Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s (SEAS) SeaWorld Orlando could dampen a usually busy pre-Halloween season. Further south, cruises leaving Florida ports and venturing into the Caribbean have been cancelled, rerouted and cut short.
Disney World doesn’t close often, but it shut its gates last year when Hurricane Matthew hit. Matthew sucker-punched the Orlando area in early October. If Disney has to shut down operations for any period of time, it’s expected to announce plans before the weekend.
FEMA, EPA Brace for Hurricane Irma as House Passes Harvey Aid The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in favor of the $7.85 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds requested by the Trump administration, the bulk of which would replenish the depleted coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). President Donald Trump later in the day said he had accepted congressional Democratic leaders’ proposal to tie relief funds to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling. Republicans will have to agree to the deal, and the Senate will have to pass an amended bill before the money can be released.
Are You Ready?
Buy a generator.Having a portable generator available or a permanent one installed in your home means keeping the lights on, at least for a few hours at a time. But always keep a running generator outside, at least 20 feet from windows and doors and protected from moisture. Never plug a generator powering a whole house into a wall outlet.
Have plenty of food.Although they’re not a lways the first choice for supper, stock up on canned, nonperishable items with enough to feed the family for three days. If the power goes out, you don’t want to open the refrigerator or freezer unless absolutely necessary. If it means eating tuna, beans, beef jerky and peanut butter for a few days, so be it. If you buy canned foods, make sure you have a manual can opener.
Don’t forget the water.Be sure to have plenty of purified water either stored in reusable bottles or in large packs of plastic bottles. A good rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day. If you can stay in your home safely, it always helps to fill up the bathtub with clean water from the faucet before the power goes out – that will give you water to clean up if the shower shuts off.
Wondering what else you need to have on hand? Check out Kinsey Grant’s story How to Be Ready for Massive Hurricane Irma: 10 Top Things to Keep in Your Home