How to Prepare For a Hurricane and Other Natural Disasters

As worries about hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters accelerate, here are some key steps to take to get ready for whatever might come your way.

Strong winds from a hurricane have toppled over an oak tree in a residential neighborhood of Saint Petersburg Florida
(Image credit: Getty/John Coletti)

As a resident of storm-prone central Florida for close to 40 years, Rich Franco is prepared for pretty much anything Mother Nature throws his way. He has two generators at the ready, one with 5,500 kilowatts of power and a second with 9,500. He keeps important papers and family photos in plastic bins, and valuable artwork is earmarked for a protected closet, along with hard drives and his desktop. As for Franco’s lawn, it may not be flood-proofed, but it’s close, thanks to a drainage trench he dug in 2004 after four hurricanes hit the Sunshine State in just six weeks.

“It was one of the most depressing times of my life,” says the 74-year-old, who spent 10 days in a dark house without power as temperatures outside soared past 80 degrees. During the day, he picked up branches and drove around looking for ice, at night, he slept on his porch. Franco says the experience was bad enough when he was 55, but today, it’s one he can’t imagine repeating. “That stress, you don’t want it, especially as a senior. When you’re younger, you’re oblivious to the potential. You think if it’s bad, I’ll get out. By being prepared, instead of being 100% stressed, I’m 50-60% stressed.”

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Contributing writer for Kiplinger Retirement Report
With contributions from