Hurricane Survival

Resilience comes from preparation

A reminder of the essentials we need to ride out hurricanes
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“Bermuda knows how to withstand a hurricane, and part of that resilience comes from preparation.” So states the Gorham’s hurricane preparation flyer on the retailer’s Facebook page.

Gorham’s the hardware and building supplies business based on St John’s Road, Pembroke, has a long history of ensuring generations of Bermudians have had what they need to ride out ferocious storms successfully.

Gorham’s offers a  convenient card that lists essential items for hurricane preparation, which is available at the customer service desk. But even the seasoned professionals at Gorham’s have to be reminded of some essentials.

“The least thought-about item when it comes to hurricanes is tennis balls,” Andrew Mackay, general manager of Gorham’s Ltd, said. We Bermudians know how to use them to block the drains on our roofs, to prevent vegetation and salt spray from getting into our tanks.

The team at Gorham’s prepares thoroughly to be regarded as a one-stop-shop for hurricane supplies. They even transform the layout of the store to be “hurricane central” with smaller, essential items near the front.

They want to ensure that they have what Bermuda needs without running out. Ask any local about where to go to get hurricane supplies, and you’ll most likely get: “Just go to Gorham’s.” As the supplier for everyone, from homeowner to the Department of Works and Engineering, they have the most stock. From gloves, chainsaws, hard hats, tarps, and plywood to rope, buckets, coolers, water, first aid kits, and radios, you truly can find everything you might need.

Their hours are convenient, they’re in a central location and have a staff ready to work as soon as it’s safe again after a storm.

“Our goal isn’t necessarily to have the best price on everything,” Mr Mackay said. “It’s the nature of the beast. However, we aim to have enough diversity and depth of product that you can secure your home and be safe, quickly getting your purchases and heading home to secure your premises.”

They are proud to be known as reliable and having the most useful items in stock when they are needed the most. “If someone needs 30 pairs of gloves or four bundles of plywood, we can supply it without running out,” Mr Mackay said. They are there when everyone needs them.

Gorham’s is affiliated with several major suppliers capable of meeting the spike in demand when a hurricane is looming, and they understand the urgency. Being on standby for hurricane season is the norm. Gorham’s’ hurricane experience, resources, and connections make it possible to have items quickly sent to the island. On arrival, they are moved off the docks as quickly as possible, onto the shelves, and into the hands of the customers who need them.

“Communication is important,” Mr Mackay said. “And we do our best to inform the stevedores team on the Hamilton docks, the shipping lines, and the trucking companies. Everyone realises the importance of hurricane supplies, and everyone is connected. While not considered an essential service provider during a pandemic, we are a priority in the arena for potential natural disaster.”

You will find a hurricane supply list at Gorham’s’ main store, through the Bermuda Government’s website, or through your insurance agency.  Better yet, you might just listen to some good “old-timers” who know what to do.

When the season starts however, it’s best to act early and build your kit.

“People typically only make purchases if there’s an actual emergency and everyone generally buys at the last minute,” Mr Mackay said. If you purchase your supplies ahead of time, you can avoid the rush. As the saying goes, the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.

As you’ve probably guessed, tarpaulins, batteries, and duct tape are the first things people look for. Gorham’s carries a variety of everything to meet everyone’s needs. Board games, disposable plates, cups and cutlery, flashlights, battery-operated fans and small propane BBQ’s  — these items are easy to store and can be on hand so that you aren’t caught by surprise.

Given the likelihood of power cuts in a storm’s aftermath, generators are also a big seller, while air-conditioning systems or fans during the summer months are an added benefit during this season, while obviously reliant on a working electricity supply.

“People will also purchase large bottles of water, even though we collect the water from our roofs,” Anne Lindo, the purchasing manager at Gorham’s, said.  It’s true – water is used for drinking, washing, cooking, and cleaning, but we might not trust what is in our tanks. Especially if we forgot to buy the essential tennis balls.

Here is a short list of steps to take and supplies to get in order to ride out the storm:

  • Make a plan, review it, practise it, and use a checklist to keep yourself well equipped and aware
  • Stock up on medications
  • Ensure your insurance policies, for example covering your home, boat, car and home contents, are up to date
  • Non-perishable food for up to three days. Don’t forget the manual can opener
  • Batteries, gas, portable stove
  • Fully-stocked ifrst-aid kit
  • Generator
  • Pet supplies
  • Games and books to stay sane
  • Tools
  • Sufficient sanitation items, such as toilet paper, feminine products, soap and detergent
  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Keep important paperwork in waterproof containers
  • Special personal needs items such as diapers and formula for a baby, glasses or contact lenses when necessary
  • Change of clothing
  • Gas in the car or bike
  • Cash

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