Alexa, Are You Ready? (Hurricane Re-Post)

Another Hurricane Season Approaches

As a new year brings with it the annual hurricane season, I thought I would repost, for a re-read, an earlier post on my experience during Hurricane Irma last year.  Hopefully 2018 will be a peaceful, storm-free year, but….I am ready. Alexa is ready!

Is Anyone Out There?


(originally posted September 2017)

I’ve been through a few hurricanes living in Florida, but none frightened me like Hurricane Irma. Irma was headed for landfall on the west coast of Florida, aimed at Naples FL, with me directly in the path of the eye! Landfall as a CAT 4, winds over 100 mph and storm surge predicted over 12 feet. I actually wavered on evacuating but living less than a mile from the gulf, only 9 feet above sea level, I secured the house as best I could and it was time to get out of dodge!

Gasoline was difficult to find to fuel up my little car to head north to St Pete to stay with a friend. I headed out with half a tank but soon discovered every gas station along the 3 hour drive was dry with no fuel to be had. And yes, I ran out of gas about 25 miles from my destination with a hurricane approaching! Pulling off an exit to a gas station with no fuel, a young man offered his two gallon can of gas. The $40 it cost me did not matter! I hit the road to safety!

Returning home the day after landfall and accessing the damage, we were all so lucky! (Especially when hearing of the catastrophic damage in Puerto Rico). We had damage, roof leaks and tons of debris, but the storm surge did not happen as predicted. I let out a huge sigh of relief.

The following weeks offered an interesting challenge… 6 days without water, 12 days without power, no gas for the car, debris to clear and haul to the front yard for future pickup, hire a roofer, continue to run my startup, finish our B2B development, find out how my dev guys were handling the damage and flooding they suffered, how do I keep my family up north in the loop, and on and on. Well, Alexa, of course. Who knew!

Upon returning home to no power, I needed to figure out how to keep my phone charged. Rumor was my neighborhood would not have power back on for 2 weeks. I quickly became thankful I over-protect my electronics. I was able to use my surge protector-battery backups, Cyberpower 1500,  that I use to protect my computers, to keep my phone charged. If I managed the battery backup properly, only turning it on for charging, it would last a week hopefully (it did!). I had an AT&T hotspot device, cell service was back on, I could access the internet when needed. The local Publix supermarket had limited power with a backup generator and the longest line in the store was to access an outlet, folks charging their phones! Hysterical! And that would be my back-up plan.

Then a funny thing happened. It was day 6 without power, I was hauling debris to the front yard. One of my neighbors walked over and said “Do you have power back on?  I hear you have music playing.”  Ha!  He was right!  I was exhausted and needed a pick-me-up.  I had carefully boxed all of my Echo devices pre-storm. I set up one of the Echo’s, plugged it into a battery block, RavPower,  to power it on, connected Alexa to WiFi with my AT&T hotspot and was up and running! I had Amazon Music playing at full volume. Created a great hurricane playlist. Music to clean up debris by!

It was also great comfort to not feel alone. I used Ask Marvee every day to communicate with family. I used the Morning Beacon alert to let my brothers, sisters and friends know I was doing fine each morning with an “I’m OK” text and email.  They, in return, sent along Family News messages of encouragement through Marvee. And my team used our beta community news Alexa skill to share work updates. Fantastic to be connected! It’s a good day!

So, I now have an Alexa plan at the ready as needed (actual items I have are listed below). An Echo device, Alexa, a portable battery backup charger that’ll last days, and a wifi hotspot device. Who needs air conditioning?  Alexa, when will the power be turned back on?

Have A Plan

Whether a storm is coming or planning for your individual home and family scenarios, Alexa and her 3rd-party Skills can provide information, send alerts and more. Be sure you know, and help your loved one’s know, the voice commands that will come in handy when needed.

We Were Very Lucky and The Sun Came Out Again