I live in Houston too - a neighborhood close by Addicks Reservoir. I've been dealing with the disaster and had to make quick decisions in the past 6 days. I've been here since Allison storm, living through hurricane Ike, Memorial Day rain 2015, and Tax Day rain 2016.stimulacra wrote: ↑Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:31 pmWas curious if there was a Boglehead consensus on disaster preparations?
I live in Houston, just outside of downtown, and was fortunate in being largely unaffected by the storm this past weekend and all of the subsequent flooding. I know a lot of people that are not as lucky. Many have had their homes flooded and lost all of their belongings; tens of thousands of people had to be rescued by boat. Many of those who suffered flood damage or lost their homes do not have flood insurance and/or were told it was unnecessary where they lived (by some accounts Harvey is being categorized as a 500 year, 800 year, or million year flood). Close to half a million vehicles are estimated to be totaled due to flood damage. Some folks whose income are hourly or contingent are facing weeks without work or pay, meanwhile my employer is encouraging employees from closed offices to volunteer in their communities if they are able to. The list of hardship and loss goes on.
I count myself as being very blessed and fortunate in how the last few days have panned out but it has gotten me thinking about the next time if I wasn't so lucky. I guess a lot of the thoughts can fall under the category of contingency planning; rethinking where I live, the possessions I choose to purchase and keep in my home, the vehicle I drive, how much food and water I keep in my home, cash easily available, emergency fund, additional insurance on things, etc…
Reflecting on things you realize there isn't a whole lot of lead time leading up to a disaster and more often than not you'll underestimate how bad things can get. Getting food, water and gas days ahead of the storm was definitely a hassle but 10X easier than trying to get it during or immediately after. As a result of all of this I'm in the process of reevaluating my approach to disaster planning and tweaking aspects of my life to minimize the impact next time a 500 year storm comes in. I don't think I'll go full prepper mode and purchase a 4x4 bug out vehicle stuffed full of MRE's but am thinking a used pickup truck or diesel crossover isn't such a bad idea for Houston, I am learning how to decipher a 500-year floodplain map, and I am simplifying my life of unnecessary clutter that can be taken away from you in an instant.
Was curious as to how Bogleheads would approach a similar scenario. I remember reading KlangFool's version a few months back about his layered version of a tangible emergency fund and remembering that it was very pragmatic and fiscally grounded.
My approach to disaster planning is part of the overall risk assessment. Here are my thoughts:
1. When I bought my first house, I made sure that it's not in 500 year flood zone, has the highest elevation in the area, farthest away from bayou/lake, and has an easy access to exit routes. Living through Allison helps me with this assessment.
2. In my opinion, buying big SUV/4x4 to help with disaster planning is a knee jerk reaction. You don't need to travel when it's flooded out there.
3. I have flood insurance, costing $450 a year. It has 200k structural damage and 100k content damage.
4. Keep a cool head and pay attention to reliable source of information/forecasters who don't use hype for views. I follow spacecityweather.com and Eric and Matt are amazing at keeping me informed.
5. Keep a cool head when making decision whether to leave or to stay. This is critical because: 1) you don't want to stuck on highways with flash flood emergency out there, and 2) stuck in a house with rapidly rising water.
It does not have to cost a lot of money to prepare for disaster. Keeping a cool head is critical in these situations.
And no need to be nervous about the next big storm. Things happen and we'll deal with it when it comes.