Hurricane Tips for New Floridians  
TO: All New Floridians.
Dear friends,

Hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida.  If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one.''
As we're about to enter the annual hurricane season you must pay attention.  Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see the following headlines, accompanied by dark, suspenseful sounding music:

“Trouble in the Tropics”,
“Florida Braces”,
“Hurricane (insert name) Approaches”,
“State of Emergency”,
“Category 5 Super Storm”,
“Floridians Hunker Down”,
“Floridians Flee”.

There will be a very nicely dressed weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic and making two basic points:

(1) There is no need to panic.

(2) We could all be swept into the sea and die.
As the situation worsens, the weather person will ditch their expensive jacket and will then broadcast live, non-stop, with lots of papers flying and NFL style play-by-play computer graphics, and will have their sleeves rolled up like a construction worker.  This will give you, the new viewer, the psychological assurance that they are on top of something that they have no actual control over.
You may not have a clue what is about to happen to you, but you will become an expert in the viewing of the “Super Storm Mega X Armageddon First Strike Doppler 9000 Disaster Radar”.
The Governor will then broadcast a live news conference, in clothes designed to look like he has been up all night boarding up the nearest orphanage, with the required television inset of the assistant who is using sign language.  Regardless of what gestures she uses, she is not insulting you.
As the hurricane nears landfall, you will begin to wonder what possessed you to move to Florida.  As it comes ashore the urge to move to Montana will be overwhelming.  This is a natural reaction for newcomers.  Veterans have discovered that massive quantities of alcohol dramatically reduce the level of concern, and make the impending catastrophe quite the anticipated social event of the season, ergo, the “hurricane party”.  The 2004 season was, as history shows, a very successful social season.
Now, all of this can be very confusing and heady stuff.  So what should you do?
Based on our experiences, we recommend the following simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.

STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.

STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, statistics show that no one follows this sensible plan, electing instead to stay here in Florida.  In light of that, we'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:
If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance.  Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and

(2) It is located in Kansas.
Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance at all, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place.
So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.  Since Hurricane Andrew, the average homeowner has had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, everyone is covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to our premiums, Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to our kidneys.  They cannot have our first-borns, as Allstate already took those.
SHUTTERS: Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors, and, if it's a major hurricane, all the toilets.  There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

Advantage: Because you make them yourself, they're cheap. 
Disadvantage: Because you make them yourself, they will never fit the same window you made them for.  Plus you must fight the barbarian hordes at Home Depot, as they are trying to buy replacement plywood because they can’t find the plywood they bought last year.

Advantage: They work well, once you get them all up. 
Disadvantage:  Once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

Advantage: They're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. 
Disadvantage:  You will have to sell your house to pay for them.

These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds!  You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so.  He lives in Iowa.

If you don't evacuate, you will need thousands of dollars of supplies. Do NOT buy them now! Florida residency requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and Home Depot and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of SPAM and that piece of plywood.
In addition to food and water, you will need the following items:

1) No less than 23 flashlights and at least $167 worth of batteries that, as it turns out when the power goes out, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.

2) Candles and lighters because your flashlights won’t work. Also a fire extinguisher for when you accidentally catch your curtains on fire because you lit too many candles.

3) Bleach. (We don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for. But it's traditional, so get as much as you can).

4) A gas-powered generator. Never mind that you will have no idea how to make it work, the fact that you have one will instantly propel you to the top of the social ladder in your neighborhood.

5) A big knife to strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)

6) A Blue Tarp. A must-have accessory, the blue tarp is the unofficial flag of the State of Florida, while its blue is the official color of the State of Florida. It is totally useless, but quite attractive and it goes with any décor, it color being very cheery. The beige tarp is passé, depressing, and should be avoided.

7) A large quantity of raw chicken to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane there WILL be irate alligators.)

8) $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy food, water, and generator fuel from a man with no discernible teeth.

Now that you have all these things, what do you do when the hurricane approaches?

Check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc. You should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool. If you don't have a swimming pool then the hurricane winds will dispose of these items for you. Do not be alarmed by this as you have the advantage over those who own swimming pools.
While all of your self-bought stuff is gone, the hurricane will deposit new outdoor stuff that belonged to someone else who lives about 23 miles away from you. We call this “the patio furniture community ownership effect”, and it is recommended that you initially buy good quality patio furniture, because you expect the next set that blows in to be just as nice. It is a karma issue. You neighbor who has the pool is forced to keep the ugly old patio furniture they bought years ago, while you get new stuff every storm. Plus, they have to clean out their pool and you don’t.

If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida" you live in a low-lying area. The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. If you elect to evacuate, you will then become trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely, and your mass demise will be national news. It is, however, recommended that you wear distinctive, colorful clothing so your relatives in Idaho can identify you on TV.

If you successfully evacuated and are returning, but are unable to find your home because all the street signs have disappeared, do not be alarmed as chances are your place won’t be there anyway. Do not be concerned as this gives you a marvelous opportunity to develop a close relationship with one of our many fine attorneys in the area, as you fight the insurance company for the next 3 years.

If you stayed and survived, then you will find that the complete destruction of your neighborhood really wasn’t so bad, as it did get rid of your neighbor’s ugly philodendrons that you always hated. Plus you discovered who amongst your circle of survivors was stupid (or rich) enough to buy good name-brand beer and liquor for all to consume. This is crucial information for when the next blow comes.

Of course these are just basic precautions and recommendations. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by watching non-stop reports by TV reporters in rain slickers, who stand right next to the ocean while telling you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean. As they get swept into the sea worry not, the weather person in the studio will take over and provide you the same mind-numbing information that you have been watching for the past 3 days.

Good luck and remember: It's great living in paradise! Welcome, and enjoy!