As the punishing rains and powerful winds of Hurricane Harvey barreled toward the Texas coast, most turned their attention to basic necessities. Shelter, water, food and warmth are all jeopardized in the wake of natural disasters like Harvey.

It became immediately apparent that many were unprepared for the storm’s devastating aftermath. Significant resources were dedicated to storm preparation, but there was no clear time-table when it came to the re-stocking of Houston’s bare shelves.

Congressman Al Green of Texas offered the following:

The thing that people most need is security. And when people are not being rescued — people are still waiting to be rescued — that is an immediate need. Just having security. We also have people who have been out in the weather for some time and they need to get themselves properly warmed in a place so that they can have food and proper clothing. So, when people go to shelters, we’re trying to make sure that they get the food and the clothing that they need. People also need to know that at some point we’ll start a recovery, and when that recovery starts, that there will be resources available to help them get housed immediately. I remember going through this with other storms, and sometimes the housing can become difficult to acquire. But housing is important, short-term and long-term housing. Those who have had their property damaged, they need to know that there will be the resources available to them to get repairs.

Food 
Anticipation of Harvey left most supermarket shelves bare. Basic staples became rare commodities overnight. Delivery trucks were unable to navigate immersed roadways, and grocery stores were suffering from water damage and flooding of their own.

Water
Clean water and sanitation are an immediate, prioritized concern following any natural disaster. Toxic, bacteria-infected black water flooded streets and homes throughout Houston and surrounding areas, adding to an already perilous environment. Survivors depended largely on water provided by aid workers and local shelters.

At grocery stores, water flew off the shelves faster than food items. A local resident reported a public eager to stock up on water, but unable to explain why it was necessary to do so.

After a storm, there are no guarantees that tap water is safe for consumption. Toxic water is just as dangerous as the threat of dehydration, so access to clean drinking water is absolutely necessary for survival.

Shelter
Evacuations left countless people in need of shelter. Many found themselves in auditoriums, churches and even local businesses that had opened their doors to the affected.

Some who opted to shelter in-place found themselves in need of emergency rescue, the magnitude of the flood more formidable than they had imagined.

Nearly 80,000 homes were affected by Harvey. The impact on the local real estate market and the totality of the structural damage are difficult to estimate, but it is a blow that will have residual effects for years to come.

Fuel Oil
production was also impacted by Harvey. Certain areas experienced a mad rush for the pump, with many running dry before everyone’s needs had been met.

Access to lubricants and mixed fuels was also compromised as local sellers closed their doors amid rising flood waters.

Trash Bags
Trash bags disappeared quickly following Harvey. Many local residents kept rolls in their cars and bug-out bags. This was just one of a growing list of items suffering limited supply and high demand.

Bleach
Bleach is tremendously useful for sanitizing. It can be utilized to destroy mosquito larvae in stagnant pools and even to disinfect water. Options to purchase bleach were limited or non-existent, as with many highly-coveted items.

Waterborne illness, airborne molds and the threat of mosquitoes all increased significantly. Bleach can be a handy or even lifesaving product in the days immediately following a flood.

Tarps, Rope and Plywood
Tarps, rope and plywood were in short supply even before Harvey hit. Flooding hindered the re-stocking of these materials and many homes sat in disrepair for extended periods of time. It would be wise to have items such as these in your possession long before a storm looms on the horizon.

Enmity When Harvey hit, enmity seemed, at least for the moment, to be a thing of the distant past. Heroic acts of rescue dominated the headlines. Neighbors braved rising waters, devoted themselves to gallant rescue efforts and gave generously through volunteer efforts, donations and countless displays of selfless assistance. Enmity was, without doubt, the best thing we lost in the flood.

Educating yourself and developing a specific plan are all critical in preparing for the future. Though flood waters are receding in Houston, it is imperative to remain vigilant with an eye on the future. Having the tools, resources and know-how in place before a threat becomes imminent is mandatory.

It always pays to be prepared.

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