Florida preppers face many of the same threats as anyone else in America: civil collapse, EMP, natural disasters, etc. However, Floridians have unique challenges than preppers in other states. What makes sense for a prepper in Alaska may not make sense for a prepper in Georgia. This applies to Florida as well.
Florida is packed with survivalists, according to Miami New Times. This article will focus on Florida from a prepper’s perspective. What specific challenges does the state face from a historical perspective? What are the threats given the state’s geography? Where should Floridians prioritize their preps?
NOTE: Do you live in Florida? You know your state, so let us know in the comments section how this article can be improved. What did we miss? What did we get right?
Florida Overview – Prepper’s Perspective
“The Sunshine State” attracts vast amounts of tourists due to its warm weather and sandy beaches. Yet, while this place is a popular vacation spot, it has a dark underbelly. Since is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides, it is specially vulnerable to flooding and hurricanes. The slightest hurricane in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico can result in massive disruptions to everyday life.
When you consider that Florida is among the fastest-growing states in the US and the 3rd most populous after California and Texas, this becomes very concerning. The state is the 8th most densely populated state making it exceptionally dangerous when disaster strikes. The infrastructure of Florida simply cannot keep up with the demand placed on its first responders, roadways, or energy infrastructure when something as significant as a hurricane bears down on them. Therefore, a prepper must be getting ready for the next hurricane season every day.
Luckily, Florida is well known for its ample food supply. If you take your attention off the fact that fishing in Florida is incredibly easy and productive, then you will see the interior of the state is full of farms and arable land. This is especially true farther north in the panhandle region. Even the most inept of fishermen can survive in a place with so much pristine water, ample wildlife, and prime farmland.
The water in Florida is also just as available. While around urban centers it can be somewhat unclean, the levels of precipitation in Florida supply any shortage in water. A simple rain collection system off a metal roof will more than suffice regular water needs after it is purified. If there is one cause of death that is highly unlikely in Florida, it is dehydration.
Florida Specific Concerns
The state frequently suffers from several natural disasters including tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods. Due to Florida’s large coastline, 40% of all hurricanes that occur in the US will hit Florida. Wildfires are common in Florida due to arson and debris burning, another possible culprit is the lightning storms that frequent the state. Florida has experienced the biggest and strongest natural disasters known in the US, namely the recent hurricanes of 2018 and 2019, Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Dorian.
Florida Natural Disasters
If you’re going to live in Florida, you need to be prepared for hurricanes and the inevitable flooding that ensues. Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters that occur in Florida. This is due to the fact that Florida is surrounded by many large bodies of water the state is mostly at sea level. Along with the many hurricanes, tropical storms also deposit immense amounts of water onto the state. That leaves flooding and hurricanes as the two main disasters the state is subjected to.
1) The Great Miami Hurricane (1926) – Long before the modern weather infrastructure was established, the Great Miami Hurricane wreaked havoc on the Sunshine State. After the 150mph winds swept through Miami, the public could only attempt to deal with the aftermath. After they cleaned up the tragic mess that once was a thriving city, a total of 689 Floridians were found to have been killed by this storm. $100 million in damage was done.
2) The Okeechobee Dam Bust (1928) – Not long after the Great Miami Hurricane another massive storm slammed into Florida. The state barely had two years to repair and rebuild before the next disaster. This time, it wasn’t just hundreds who were going to die – it was thousands. Overwhelmed by the flooding, a dam in Okeechobee ended up bursting under the weight of the torrential waters. This time 4,078 people died.
3) Hurricane Andrew (1992) – Despite the horrendous damage this massive storm visited on Florida, Only 23 people died. However, it managed to destroy 730,000 homes and businesses, and caused a total of $25 billion in damages. While the sunshine state was completely destroyed, given its history with large numbers of casualties in storms, this one wasn’t so bad.
4) Hurricane Irma (2017) – For over two weeks, 180mph storm winds caused catastrophic damage to the eastern seaboard of the united states. This is the most intense storm to ever hit the the United States and Florida bore the brunt of it. When all was said and done, 52 people ended up dying (not more thanks to early evacuations). The state then was forced to rebuild yet again. This time to the tune of an estimated $64 billion in damages occurred.
5) Hurricane Ian (2022) – More recently, Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida, and many residents faced life without water, electricity, and even their homes! The storm rolled in as a Category 4 hurricane. As of this writing, 109 people lost their lives in the storm, 55 of them in Lee County. There were over 400,000 residents who went without power, and family members in other states had to wait days to hear from loved ones cut off from communications. Many homes that were still standing become unlivable, and alligators walked the streets.
It goes without saying that the biggest threat in Florida is hurricanes or an effect of one. If you are going to bug in during the hurricane, your first order of business is to get your home ready to weather the storm. Hurricanes are known for their extremely high winds and storm surges.
Therefore, you should build your home high and harden it against the effects of wind as much as possible. Going through extra steps to ensure the windows and roof will not be damaged or destroyed during the landing of the hurricane is of paramount importance to long term survival.
Forget Natural Gas
Many people choose to use natural gas in the their homes for a variety of reasons. However, if you have intentions bugging in during a hurricane, you should steer clear of natural gas for a few reasons. First, it is a dangerous liability during a storm. If a gas line were to break, you will have effectively converted your bug out shelter into a bomb. Second, it makes you reliant on someone else during and after the landing of the storm. Thirdly, restoring power to an all electric house after the storm is far easier than trying to reconnect gas lines. Further, if the home is all electric you can easily deploy your own solar cells and be self sufficient.
A 90-Day Supply
Depending on the disaster, it can take some time for society to recover. If you look back on previous hurricanes that have struck Florida, restoration of basic services can be a challenge. Therefore, it is vital that you have what you need to last for an extended period. Having a 90-day supply of food, water, and basic necessities will ensure that you are able to last until society has begun to normalize. Watching for survival food supply deals is one way to acquire “buy it and forget it” supply of long-term foods.
One of the most important pieces of equipment for any prepper planning to bug out is to have decent maps of their state. Having an identified bug out location is crucial. All preppers in any state should begin their bug out plans with a paper map of their state. Nothing is better for all-purpose use than the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer.
Buy Gas Now, Not Later
Bugging out of a hurricane is an endeavor that calls for a substantial amount of gasoline. That is a resource that, no matter what the government tries to do, always seems to be in short supply when a hurricane is inbound. Therefore, it is wise to get your own stash of gasoline when there is no disaster looming.
Depending on your vehicle, you should purchase enough to fill the tank three times and store it in a safe place outside your home. Periodically use the gas and replenish the empty containers so that way it remains fresh and free from water. Know how to store gas like a prepper. If you do this, then getting out of Florida when SHTF will become much simpler.
Consider a Sailboat
Bugging out of Florida is a massive undertaking. One theme that is played over and over again throughout all of Florida’s hurricanes are the extensive lines at the gas pump. What is worse, the terrain of Florida naturally canalizes the entire population to just a few roads heading north.
Therefore, take to the high seas during your escape. A sailboat requires little to nothing to get underway. Under the control of a competent sailor, the list of safe ports are nearly endless. If you are interested in bugging out, then consider investing in a sailboat. Of course, this is not practical for everyone, but it may be for some.
Learn to Fish
If you are bugging out of Florida, you are going to be doing so in a world class fishery. Therefore, you should never go hungry. With the ample amount of coastline, lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks, simple efforts to catch fish are very likely to be mightily rewarded. In your bugout bag you should always have a collapsible pole and basic tackle to take advantage of this abundant natural resource. To neglect to do so would be committing yourself to a higher degree of food scarcity than you have to.
Further Reading for Florida Preppers
This article just scratches the surface of what Florida preppers need to know. The following links could held educate you more on prepping in the state.
Storm Expo – Miami’s expo on natural disaster preparedness.
Florida Prepper – Very active Facebook group that collaborates and shares information and advice.
Florida Ready – Index of different prepping Facebook groups, pages, and resources.
Florida Disaster – Florida States disaster response and information distribution site.
Florida DOT Emergency Management – FL Department of Transportation Disaster information.
North Florida Survival – School that does consultations and courses on surviving in Florida.
American Survival – On request survival school based out of Jacksonville taught by a Navy Seal.