Our Insane Storm (& the Top Emergency Essentials that Were Most Helpful)

Well, I’ve been off the grid a bit — literally. Late last week, we had an unexpected storm roll through that shocked our little piece of north Georgia, and according to our utility company, left more devastation than any other event in its almost 90 years of existence. Our small community was noted as being hit the hardest. It was totally unpredictable and beyond wild. It’s still unclear if tornados were confirmed amidst the winds exceeding 80mph, or if all the damage was the exclusive result of straight line winds. We live in an area that is prone to a lot of different weather activity — tornadoes, residual effects from hurricanes, ice storms, and I’ve even experienced a blizzard. But, being in a temperate climate, none of these weather events are super regular occurrences. Because we don’t live in any of the extremes, we (and I’m sure many of you can relate) don’t have as robust of an emergency kit/system/tools on hand as those living on the coast where hurricanes are happenstance, or in the midwest where tornados are expected, or the extreme north where combatting the effects of winter is regular practice. Today, along with our personal experience over the past week, I’m sharing the small stash of emergency storm essentials and supplies we were happy to have on hand — what kept us feeling as comfortable as possible — and what we wish we would have had on hand (and are slated to purchase to be better prepared for future storm/emergency situations.) Some of you are pros at weathering storms and have back-up plans to your back-up plans and even consider regular harsh weather in your home construction. But, for those of you like us, who know storms are possible and want to be somewhat prepared but it seems overkill to do all the things, I hope this post is especially helpful for you.

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I’ll pause here to say 1. we are totally fine! And 2. we were incredibly lucky and didn’t experience devastation like many of our neighbors did. I’m going to share our effects from the storm but my mom (who experienced more significant damage) felt strongly about publishing a post that includes emergency items to have on hand that aren’t overwhelming or intimidating.

The Storm

I was actually outside when the rain popped up and when the wind started, I was naively just hoping our crepe myrtles weren’t going to shed all their blooms. I didn’t know that would be the least of our worries. (BTW, of all that happened, they’re largely still intact!) From the shelter of our porch, we headed inside when we started seeing the trees along the back of our property bend to an almost 90 degree angle, parallel to the ground. We lost power immediately and we assumed it would return quickly, as it always does in storm situations. We were wrong. One moment, we were sitting at the kitchen island, a distance away from the back of the house to observe what was going on beyond our windows. The next, we realized our 100lb umbrellas and bases were on the ground and our furniture was in the pool. Here’s a quick shot…

SourcesChaise Lounges (set of 2) | Umbrella (black pole/canvas sand w/black trim) | Umbrella Stand & Weight (currently on sale!) | Outdoor Side Table | Stone Planter (XL)

The storm didn’t last long and fortunately, we were able to quickly retrieve the pool furniture; it all seemed to be unscathed, despite it’s rough displacement. The worst part of the power outage though is that we don’t get Verizon cell service in our neighborhood (for whatever reason, it’s a dead spot), so we rely on a booster in our home… which relies on internet… which was obviously out. So, not only was there no internet, but we had no cell service, no getting on Facebook, no contact outside of the walls of our home.

Since I couldn’t reach my mom, I got in the car to drive to her house — just a few miles away. That’s when I realized that what had just happened went far beyond the inconvenience of downed limbs, messy debris, and pool furniture being blown around. There were already neighbors out with chainsaws, clearing trees that fell over the streets but I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Here’s a few pics of our poor neighbors’ homes…

And after a brief drive to the entrance of our neighborhood, I realized we were stuck. There were downed power lines in both directions. Our area of course had downed power lines, but also huge power poles that had split in half. I headed back into the neighborhood and found a hill in the back that gave me enough signal to reach my mom who confirmed she was safe… but her place was a wreck.

North Georgia Storm Damage 2023

Long story made a little less long, our power came back on the second night. And the following morning, I headed to my mom’s, we packed a bag, and headed back to my place. Her poor house in the woods was hit pretty hard but while trees came down all around her house (and made contact on each side), it definitely could have been worse. Here’s a glimpse of her back, from the side view.

North Georgia Storm Damage 2023

Here’s a side vies… this side ripped off part of roofing and tore off some house siding, while the other side was left with a hole in the roof and punched through the interior drywall. Luckily, it was over her carriage garage that she uses more for storage and it wasn’t the main portion of the house.

What to Have On Hand for Storm Emergencies

Bless her Polywood Adirondack chairs, though! I’ve raved about our Polywood rocking chairs that we’ve had for a decade that are still as good as new, and the reason we went for a Polywood dining set on the back porch to weather the heat and glaring sun, but a tree literally fell on my mom’s new Polywood Adirondack chairs. We were shocked when it was removed that the chairs didn’t have a scratch on them. I knew they were durable, but dang. Obviously, not a guarantee but if I wasn’t already a fan girl, I would be now 😉

North Georgia Storm Damage 2023

Sources: Polywood Adirondack Chairs | Polywood Round Side Table

Trees did take out her new raised garden planter though that we gifted her for Mother’s Day. Dang it. I climbed over the downed trees and tried to gather as many “ok” tomatoes and peppers as possible 😉

North Georgia Storm Damage 2023

Back at our house, we have some trees behind our fence that will eventually need to be removed that came down and semi-came down, but our clean-up was completed pretty quickly. The pool was wrecked with mud and debris and small limbs and the deck was a pain, but again, small potatoes.

My mom has already made progress on clean-up, but the majority will be a process with insurance. You know how that goes… But, we have power, we’re back online, and I’m crazy impressed with how quickly everyone came together and sprang into action to start the clean-up. I’m especially thankful for all the crews and linemen that have been working around the clock towards restoration. We were lucky.

Our Storm Emergency MVPs

So, we were lucky, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be without power. Especially in the heat of a hot, mid-Georgia summer. We went to bed the first night, hopeful that power would be quickly restored during the night but by early the next morning, decided it was time to go ahead and try to start taking inventory of what we had, salvaging what we could, and getting our house as “ok” as possible in the interim.

I was so so glad Dave had purchased THIS generator sometime in the past few years because it was a life saver. It’s duel fuel and honestly, anything involving propane or gas is really intimidating to me. I’m not confident I could have just sprung into action and known how to power it. But, after this past storm, I will be asking for a lesson from Dave and I understand just how important it can be to have something to power emergency electronics/appliances. Several of the things I’ll mention in the post wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of the generator.

Source: Generator

I’ve never though we really needed a whole-house generator or a generator that automatically comes on when the power goes out (and I still don’t) — again, because we live in such a temperate climate. Dave on the other hand is more convinced that we do 😉 But, having a power source made things a little more bearable.

Our priority was getting the refrigerator plugged in, along with the chest freezer in the garage. Once those two major appliances were taken care of, we could concentrate more on comfort, charging personal items, etc.

Dave had purchased me an extra long extension cord reel situation (like THIS) for when I want to be outside and work at the pool. We were SO happy to have that on hand! With the long cord and extra outlets, it was definitely an MVP of our time without power.

Dave’s block rocker bluetooth speaker gave us radio ability and also has USB charging ports, so you can charge small personal devices on it.

We kept our tower fans (like the Dyson Hot/Cool fan we’ve had for years — you can find the newer version of what we have HERE) in the bedrooms and brought up and brought THIS oscillating fan up from the basement. It’s an inexpensive workhorse and I was thrilled with its performance. Again, we were able to plug it right into the corded outlet extender.

Emergency Supplies to Have On Hand for Storms

Sources: Fan | Pendant Lights | Woven Bar Stools | Large Wooden Wall Art | Black Leather Arm Chairs

Probably my favorite, most versatile emergency tool we had on hand was THIS portable power station. I had gifted this to Dave the Christmas before last so he could use it when he goes out to the land. He actually had never taken it out of the box until now — now, not only will he be using it more regularly, but I love it so much, I think we need an additional power station.

The version we have (HERE) has two outlets and a few USBs, and several ports. It can be charged in a regular outlet (up to 80% in two hours), via a car outlet, etc. Because Dave hadn’t used it, it still had the majority of its starting juice and then he was able to recharge it on the generator. But, even without the generator, we could have pulled his truck out and charged it for a small power source.

Storm Emergency Kit Essentials

Source: Jackery Portable Power Station

We used it during the day in the common area and at night, we were able to plug in Eliza’s Hatch sound machine and a fan — it lasted the whole night. But, only having one, that meant nothing for our room which is why I want another — so we can all have night fans for cooling.

Our portable station is really lightweight but there are a LOT Of different models from the maker with both smaller and greater capacity, additional outlets, etc. HERE.

Again, because of the portability, flexibility, and ability to have it pre-charged (with the ability to easily re-charge) without a generator, I think everyone needs one of these. MVP status, for sure.

Meanwhile in my mom’s house, she didn’t have access to a generator or portable power station — while we had the blessing of salvaged food and air circulation — she did not 🙁 But, she DID have a pair of 1000w lanterns that are way better than any flashlight I’ve ever seen. Seriously, THESE things put off SO much light and are wildly amazing. I already purchased some for our home for the next power outage. They are powered by ‘D’ batteries so you’ll want to have those on hand, too. We keep a full battery stash since we can easily see what we need and easily keep them organized in our battery organizer in our kitchen desk (HERE).

Emergency Supplies and Essentials to Keep On Hand for Power Outages and Storms

Source: Duracell Lanterns (pack of 2)

Along with our power sources, here are a few more things we were thrilled to have on hand (that we used continually throughout our power outage/storm)…

  • BIG Yeti Cooler — we were actually able to keep our fridge and freezer plugged in, but in the past we’ve relied on our Yetis. And, had we no generator or fuel, we would have pulled them back out. These would have saved a lot of my mom’s food had she had one, even without a generator. You can find the 65 HERE and the HUGE 110 HERE.
  • Ice Packs — especially when you aren’t sure of the ice, food, and power situation.
  • 40 oz Stanley Tumblers — this was commonplace for me since mine are my daily cups but the ability to hold ice and keep drinks cold when you feel like you’re dying from heat without relief, even Dave got on board with how awesome these are.
  • Big, industrial outdoor- rated extension cords
  • Mini FlashlightsTHESE aren’t industrial strength or anything but they work well and they’re the ones we’ve always used with Eliza. She keeps them in her nightstand, typically. Having not one or two but several on hand was SO handy.
  • Surge Protector Extension CordTHIS ONE is what we have — it has a bunch of outlet ports and USB ports and is inexpensive on Amazon.
  • Book Light — Ok, I’ve shared this little dimmable, 3-light setting clamp-style book light that I have, but I was so so grateful for it when the power went out. I keep it charged so it was ready to go, but it could have easily been recharged using the portable power bank, too. It also is designed to be a desktop lamp and can be set on a table so even if you don’t read but want to play games, it’s a great tool to have on hand.
  • Portable Charger — I stan THIS portable charger for phones, iPads, etc. so hard! I keep it charged and in my purse but it was definitely among the most used items during our storm. Of course, it can be recharged by a portable power bank or other creative means, but I love that it has a prong that unfolds and plugs directly in the wall so you can just throw one of your regular charging cables on it (without having to keep up with a lot of cables). It charges quickly and holds a battery for a long while.

We don’t have THIS battery powered fan but it claims to last 214 hours on “low” — it would be a great option to keep on hand to use on nightstands in lieu of a power bank.

Things I didn’t use that I now know are safe to clean out that I’ve been holding onto for justification reasons of “what if we have a storm and the power goes out?” All those old, half-used candles. We have plenty of candles we actually use regularly should we really need them, but we definitely don’t need to create a romantic/seance vibe in the house and were never even tempted to bring them out.

The power went out at our city’s water plant so there was a time where we wondered if we were going to have to stop using water altogether — fortunately, we didn’t but I was glad to have a few jugs and bottles, just in case.

We were fortunate and just a little uncomfortable more than anything. Of all things we were “without” the least concerning to me was the TV and lights. It’s crazy how much we rely on internet now though — in our house, even to be able to make a phone call! So wild…

What has saved you during storms and power outages? What have you secured that you’ll never again be caught without? I think during any emergency or weather event, we learn something new. And while I don’t know it’s fiscally responsible to prepare for EVERY possible circumstance, I’m glad we’ve continued to increase our emergency arsenal just a little bit over the years.

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  1. 7.28.23
    Lou Ann said:

    We also live in the North Ga. Mountains . After several years of rolling out the portable generator, we installed a full house generator(Generac). It is a game changer! It comes on automatically
    In 6 SECONDS! We are amazed at how many times it actually comes on …. Not necessarily for storms …..since trees frequently fall on power lines in these mountain areas. But, we never even know the power is out! It’s not just a luxury, as almost everyone has a well…so if the power goes, we all have no water. Yikes!That’s worse than lights out!Glad you didn’t have much damage, a tree also down at our neighbors, we helped to get that cleaned up. Hoping your Mom is ok!

    • 7.29.23

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and for your note, Lou Ann. I love our North Georgia mountains and trees, but you are so right that they can wreak havoc on power lines during storms. We were definitely blessed to have water and I love that you have a full house generator to keep you going when the power goes out!

  2. 7.28.23
    Sally said:

    We’re in Alpharetta & we were lucky-never lost power & only had few limbs down. Our neighbor, two doors down, had what had been termed the largest hickory in Fulton Co. come down. Another 10” & it would have demolished their house. Just did minor damage on the edge of their roof. So sorry to see what happened to your Mom’s new house!

    • 7.29.23

      Hi Sally, Thank you for visiting and I am so glad you did not have any damage from the storm. Even though my mom had lots of damage, it couldn’t have been much worse if one of those huge trees that fell had landed on top of her house, instead of hitting the edges. She missed that by only a couple of feet!

  3. 7.28.23
    Linda said:

    I live in Richmond VA, in an older, very wooded neighborhood with above ground power lines. After getting hit with remnants of hurricanes and losing power frequently, once for 16 days and another for 10 days, we bit the bullet and had a whole house generator installed. We had always been prepared for hurricane season with lanterns, water, etc., but having the generator brings such peace of mind. Of course, we haven’t lost power for any long periods of time since getting the generator! Isn’t that always the case?! Glad your situation wasn’t too terrible for you!

    • 7.29.23

      Thank you for stopping by, Linda, and for your kind note. I’m with you…peace of mind means a lot and it sounds like a full house generator is recommended by so many folks. We will definitely be looking into it! I’m glad you haven’t had to deal with power outages in a while!

  4. 7.28.23
    Vicki said:

    Wow! Those polywood chairs are winners for sure! Thanks for the emergency roundup! So sorry for all the damage you and your mom experienced – and so glad you are all safe. Storms here in the South can get scary very quickly. This post will come in handy as we head into the fall storm season.

    • 7.29.23

      We couldn’t believe the chairs and table came through the storm unscathed, even though a large tree top hit them. Crazier than that, my mom had a small ceramic top on top of that table and it also made it through the storm with no damage. I’m so happy to know this was a helpful post for you and we, too, will work to be better prepared for the next time around!

  5. 7.28.23
    Donna Christie said:

    Wow! I’m so so glad you are all ok! Up here in Ontario we had crazy storms but nothing like the one you had. We lost power for a couple hours and one thing I’m really greatful for: I got my son a huge Ryobi power tool set for Christmas and it came with a very bright flashlight that runs on their rechargeable batteries. It would easily last 2-3 nights on a single 20v charge and was bright enough to light up my living room, which is probably the size of your kitchen area. And of course our portable cell chargers.

    • 7.29.23

      Thank you for stopping by, Donna, and for weighing in on the post. It’s amazing the tools we have available these days…and there’s nothing like having a great flashlight available. I will definitely be more cognizant in keeping things “charged up” in the future for emergencies like this one!

  6. 7.28.23
    Sara Frazier Ross said:

    So glad y’all were ok! Our son’s house on Lake Lanier wasn’t hit but like your mom, trees down everywhere. Thanks for the tips. I just love your blog!

    • 7.29.23

      Hi Sara and I’m so glad that your son’s house got through the storm with no damage. I couldn’t believe the loss of trees EVERYWHERE, but more amazingly, I can’t believe how fast the clean up has been. I appreciate your kind note and thank you so much for following along with us!

  7. 7.28.23
    Kas said:

    This scenario is exactly why we’ve kept a landline all these years! It also serves as the backup/emergency phone for our families to call if something happens overnight when we both have our cell phones on silent. The peace of mind is worth the price.

    So relieved y’all didn’t experience major damage, and hopefully your mom’s is resolved swiftly!

    • 7.29.23

      Hi Kas, Thank you for your kind note. You are so right that this would’ve been a great time to still have a land line. I had to drive to that high point in the neighborhood several times to make necessary calls and have that peace of mind means a lot.

    • 7.30.23
      Barbara said:

      I too have kept my landline for the same reason. A tornado ripped off a part of my house about 10 years ago. My cell phone and computer were down. My landline has underground wires so I was able to get help. I’m glad you’re okay and have given me some good suggestions.

      • 7.31.23

        Thank you for stopping by, Barbara and for taking the time to leave your kind note. I imagine that tornado was terrifying and I am so glad you were able to get help!

  8. 7.29.23
    Trudy Chambers said:

    Kelley,So happy to hear you, your family and your Mom were unharmed. This information is so vital. With disasters happening what seems like daily, we all need to be prepared. Thank you.

    • 7.29.23

      Thank YOU, Trudy, for taking the time to visit and for your kind note. Yes, we were all very fortunate and I loved seeing everyone in our neighborhoods banding together to get things done. This was a good opportunity to take stock in items that are helpful in times like this (or not!)

  9. 7.29.23
    Joss said:

    My heart goes out to you and your Mom. We are still putting our home back together after hurricane Ian. It is a long, stressful process, but I focus on one step at a time. You all have each other and I hope soon, this too shall pass. Take care.

    • 7.31.23

      Joss, Thank you so much for your kind note! I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been through in experiencing the devastation from Hurricane Ian. Bless you and I hope you are toward the end of your rebuilding process!

  10. 7.30.23
    Jennibell said:

    This is one of the most helpful blog posts I’ve read in a long, long time! Thank you for writing it and all the source links. I am bookmarking it because there are lots of great gift ideas in this post. And I might purchase those chairs today 😉
    I found, several years back, that I would rather go without electricity than without Internet. It is true… A
    as a society we rely so very much on the Internet for everything!
    Glad you are all safe….the damage is just “stuff”, and although clean-up is a pain and uncomfortable, storms like this bring all the things that MATTER back where they belong – at the top!

    • 7.31.23

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful note, Jennibell! I am so happy to know that this post was helpful to you and you are so right…many of those items do make great gifts. Some I have gifted in the past and others I plan on gifting in the future. We were certainly surprised that those chairs (and the table between them) came out of the storm, and out from under the tree, totally unscathed. And, I’m with you…not having the internet was tough, since we are connected to it in so many ways these day. We were very lucky, indeed!