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Monday, September 27, 2021

Emergency Evacuation Guide And Checklist

Not Sponsored: I live in New Orleans, Louisiana and have had to evacuate for a number of hurricanes (my most recent experience here). I thought I would put a list together for you, that has helped me through these experiences. With every evacuation, I always learn something new. I hope this guide and checklist helps you.

1. Make A List Of Family, Friends and Hotels

If you have to evacuate, where are you going to go? It's great if you can stay with friends or family, but what if that's not an option? Now is the time to put together a list of hotels where you can stay within your state and also hotels in nearby states. I say this, because you never know how far an emergency will reach or how far you will have to evacuate. You rather have more options, than not enough. For my last evacuation, only a handful of hotels were available out of my extensive list. Be proactive. Do your hotel research PRIOR to an emergency (in your spare time) and keep that list in a safe place. Be sure to include the name of the hotel, address, website and its telephone number, so you won't have to look it up again. You can even list the hotels by state. Update your list, every year.

a. When RESEARCHING HOTELS, take into account 3 "A"s: Affordability, Amenities and Area 

✅ Affordability - Ask yourself, if you have to evacuate for 3, 5, 7 days, two weeks or a month, can you afford to stay there? You never know how long an evacuation may last. This would also be a good time to join the hotel's reward program. 

✅ Amenities - The more amenities a hotel has, the better. All hotels have a bed and bathroom, but does your room have a microwave and deluxe mini fridge? Those two things definitely come in handy when you have to stay longer than a week. If the hotel has a coffee maker, find out what brand (ex. Keurig). That way you don't bring coffee grounds instead of k-cups. Hotels with exercise rooms, swimming pools, computers, dining and laundry areas are also a plus. Most hotels now offer Free WiFi, but it doesn't hurt to check. 

✅ Area - Research what is near your hotel. Jot down what restaurants, fast food places, banks, gas stations, post offices and drugstores are nearby. Type "Google Maps" in your Search Bar. Then type the name of your hotel. It will then show you everything that is nearby. 

b. When MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS, always make them longer than you expect to stay. It's easier to cancel reservations, than to add more days to the reservation (also find out the hotel's cancellation policy).

c. If you have to stay at a hotel for an EXTENDED PERIOD, explain your circumstances to a hotel manager and ask him/her for a discount.

2. Save Money 

Evacuating is not cheap. Even if you have an insurance policy that will cover various expenses, it will take time for that money to reach you. You need upfront money in an emergency. Create an emergency fund. Put money in that fund year round. Be sure several credit cards are clear. Put cash aside (both small and large bills and coins, especially quarters for vending machines and laundry). Know your checking, savings and routing numbers.

3. Gather Important ID's, Papers & Policies

When evacuating, it is very important to bring the following documents with you: 

✅ Home Documents - Homeowner's Insurance Policy, Declaration Page, Flood Insurance Policy 

✅ Personal Documents - Drivers License, Social Security Card, Health Insurance Card, Covid Vaccine Card, Birth Certificate, Death Certificates, Diplomas, Debit/Credit Cards, Monthly Bills, Resume

✅ Car Documents - Drivers Manual, Car Insurance Card & Policy, AAA Card, Car's Registration 

✅ Other - Pens, Pencils, Envelopes and Stamps in case you have to mail something.

4. Take Anything Sentimental

You can't take everything with you, but ask yourself before evacuating if everything is lost, what would you be sad about losing? It may be pictures, a piece of clothing, your favorite lipstick, a book, piece of jewelry etc. If you can, bring it with you!

5. Pack It Up. Clean Up. Secure Your Home.

When evacuating, you really must consider the time of year you are evacuating. Is it Summer? Is it the end of Summer, going into Fall? Temperatures can change. Where you are evacuating to, could be a different climate. So consider those things when packing clothes. Also, consider investing in and packing things in suitcases that roll or a cart. It makes things much easier, when transporting things out of your car and into a hotel. Lugging bags and totes are harder. Below is a list of things I pack: 

✅ Personal - Clothes (Seasonal), Shoes (Seasonal), Underwear, Nightwear, Glasses, All Weather Jacket (rain etc)

✅ Medicine - Tylenol, Motrin, Aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, Robitussin, Rolaids, Cough Drops, Visine, Neosporin, Band Aids, Feminine Products 

✅ Technology - Laptop, Mouse, Cords, Batteries for Mouse, Chargers for Cell Phones and Laptop, Earphones for Phone, Scanning Devices (jump drive, cards etc). 

✅ Toiletries - Face Cleanser, Face Moisturizer, Lip Balm, Makeup Remover, Sunscreen, Body Lotion, Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Floss, Contact Lenses and Solution, Razors, Shaving Cream, Air Freshener, Soap, Hand Soap, Sanitizer, Extra Toilet Paper, Hair Brush & Comb, Deodorant. 

✅ Makeup - Foundation, Makeup Sponge, Lip Scrub, Favorite Lipsticks, Blush, Face Primer 

✅ Food Prep - Paper Towels, Paper Plates, Paper Bowls, Cutlery, Coffee, Sugar, Cream, Peppermints, Snacks, Food. If you have a cooler (Ice). 

Entertainment - Books, Magazines, etc.

Home Prep - Make sure windows are closed and locked. Bring in anything that is susceptible to the wind. Pull furniture away from windows. Tidy up the house as much as possible. Unload, throw away food items and unplug your refrigerator (leaving refrigerator doors open). If you have garbage pickup before the city shuts down, put it out. Put your empty garbage can away.

6. GPS, Google Driving Directions and Google Maps App

If you have GPS in your car, that's great. If not, no worries, use your cell phone. You can access driving directions, either through the Google Maps App or Google Driving Directions via the search bar on your cell phone. Simply type in your Starting Point and Destination. Hit GO. Verbal guidance will direct you to your destination. You can plug your cell phone inside your car to keep it charged. I find phone directions to be even more current and helpful than the GPS in the car. It's always a good idea to print out directions as well. Technology can fail. Practice using these methods BEFORE an evacuation. 

7. Gas Up. Expect No Gas. Go To The ATM/Bank. Leave Early And Have Patience.

Gas - As soon as you think, you'll have to evacuate gas up your vehicle. When panic strikes, gas will become scarce. You may also not have a choice in the type of gas that is available. I know, many times when I was on the road, Regular and Plus gas was GONE! I was lucky to get Premium. Some gas stations along the way had absolutely nothing. It can be really scary to think, you will run out of gas on the interstate or on your way to your destination.

Bank - If you haven't kept cash at the house, go to the ATM/BANK as soon as you can. ATM's can run out of money or the electricity can go out.

Evacuate As Early As Possible - The sooner you can leave before anyone else, the better. During my last evacuation, I left the day before the storm. A normal 3 hour trip, took me 6 hours with bumper to bumper car traffic. You also want to beat contraflow, if it is implemented. It really makes a difference, if you can leave a couple of days before the storm makes landfall. 

8. Stay Informed! Local Radio. Twitter. Local News/TV Apps. Cable TV.  Nextdoor App.

During an evacuation, it's really important that you stay informed. A lot of information is released that will help you get through this emergency. They're not all in one place! There are lots of sources. So it's imperative that you are ready.

✅ Radio - While in your car, turn on a local talk radio station. They will talk about the event at hand. 

✅ Twitter - Twitter is an EXCELLENT source for current and up to date information. You should subscribe to your council member, mayor, governor and president on Twitter. Also The Weather Channel, FEMA, DOTD, local newspapers, local tv stations, local department of health, local city government, National Hurricane Center, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, National Weather Service, The Associated Press and Airport.

✅ Local TV Apps / Cable TV - Many Local TV Stations have an app you can download to your phone. You can watch LIVE broadcasts through the app on your phone. While staying at the hotel, tune into The Weather Channel and Watch CNN for coverage.

✅ Nextdoor App -The Nextdoor App is a wonderful app to find out what is going on in and around your neighborhood. I was able to communicate with several neighbors by messaging them through this app. I was able to see pictures of down trees and wires that people posted in my area. You can also read what people post about what is going on and availability (if grocery stores, gas stations etc are open or closed)

9. Grocery Store Run. Preparing Food At The Hotel. Nearby Gas Stations. Patronize Local Restaurants.

As I stated above, when you research hotels find out if they have a microwave and deluxe mini fridge in the room. It can really save you money, if you can prepare food such as sandwiches, croissants, juice, bread, luncheon meat, mayonnaise, mustard, salad mix, tomatoes, chips, cereals, grits, sausage, and even scramble eggs (via microwave) in your room. Depending on how long you'll be out for the evacuation, costs can skyrocket. Eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner can be expensive. If you can do a quick grocery run before leaving do it. It's possible you won't find your favorites in another state. If you have food at home, cook it if you have a chance. Take it with you. You can eat it once you get there instead of throwing it away. Also find out where the closest grocery store is near your hotel. Don't forget that nearby gas stations are an excellent source for buying snacks, drinks, more ice, and water if you can't get to a store. I also like to research local restaurants in the area and patronize them. While you're in a city, its great to explore.

10. Keep Receipts and File With Your Insurance Company

Keep receipts for everything you purchase on the road! Gas. Food. Hotel. Bring an envelope to keep them in. Your insurance agent will need them to reimburse you. Also file a claim with your insurance company as soon as the storm passes to get a claim number. Your assigned insurance adjustor will call you to make an appointment to see your property. They may even send you a check to your hotel to cover expenses you are currently going through. Use your cell phone and bank app to deposit the check.

11. Re-direct UPS and FedEx Packages And Does Someone Have A Key To Your Property

It's inevitable, that if you order something it may come to your home following the days after a Hurricane. If you're not home, try redirecting packages to your local UPS or FedEx Store. You can option to send them to another location or redirect the packages to a neighbor near by. A neighbor that came back early offered to keep my packages. Give them some type of gift and thank them upon your return. Also, does a trusted person have a key or code to your home. It's a good idea. We have a couple of people that can access our home. One was able to check on the damage, turn the air conditioning back on and clean up while we were away.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Weidmann's Since 1870 Review | Meridian, Mississippi

Not Sponsored: I evacuated to Meridian, Mississippi for Hurricane Ida. While there, I visited several restaurants in the area. Weidmann's was on my list, because it had so many wonderful reviews. Plus, their food looked absolutely delicious. Weidmann's Since 1870 is historical. It's Mississippi's Oldest Restaurant. It was established in 1870 by Felix Weidmann (Swiss immigrant), who was a chef on a transatlantic steamship. In 1923, his grandson Henry Weidmann moved the restaurant to its present location. Decades past, and in the 60's ownership passed to Shorty McWilliams and Gloria (Weidmann). In the 80's, it was passed to Poo Chancellor and his wife Gloria (McWilliams). A group of 54 investors purchased and remodeled the building in 1999. In 2010, Charles Frazier took over the reigns. Whew! It's a charming restaurant. It's nestled in downtown Meridian, MS. You'll find beautiful antiques, pretty paintings, vintage pictures and glorious mirrors inside. Just looking around is a joy. The food is absolutely amazing. They start you off with their traditional peanut butter crock and crackers. This tradition started back in the 1940's (you can read about it in the story below). The peanut butter is handmade and oh so creamy! Nothing like you would find in a store. Next? Appetizers!!! It's the first time I've ever ordered THREE (3) appetizers!!! I ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes With 1870 sauce. This was glorious you guys! It's fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp, mushrooms and a tomato cream sauce. I would also highly recommend Weidmann's Seafood, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It has a really good base and they don't skimp on the ingredients. It's rich & flavorful. The Loaded Crab Cake was also delicious (Crabmeat Belvedere and Melted Fontina Cheese). So as you can imagine, this left very little room for an entree. HaHaHa But I ordered and took it back to the hotel. We had their daily Fried Catfish special with the most delicious tasting sliced tomatoes. I had the Catfish Belvedere. The catfish is grilled and smothered with Crabmeat Belvedere topped with a light cream sauce. You MUST get their potato salad. So creamy. So good. Their macaroni and cheese is also delicious. Dessert!!! I had to try Weidmann's White Chocolate and Praline Liquor Coffee. It's so smooth and delightful to drink. It's a hot drink. I also enjoyed their World Famous Black Bottom Pie. Overall, the food is just absolutely delicious. We got there by noon and we didn't leave until may two hours later. HaHaHa It was packed when we got there and by the time we left, there was only a sprinkle of people. They stop at a certain time and then prepare the restaurant for the dinner crowd. I even took pictures of the bathroom area. It's so beautiful and I love the white mirror in bathroom. Its so pretty. I love details. Charming restaurant. Delicious food. Add it to your list, if you visit. Highly recommended. When you leave the restaurant, make a right, go to the corner, make a left (cross the street) and see the David Ruffin Mural (The Temptations)(here and here). David Ruffin was a lead singer for The Temptations. He was from Meridian.

Logans Roadhouse | Cracker Barrel | Zac's Catfish & Chicken | Weidmann's Restaurant Since 1870

Evacuation Guide And Checklist

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Zac's Catfish And Chicken Review | Meridian, Mississippi

Not Sponsored: Hey Guys! I evacuated for Hurricane Ida and stayed in Meridian, Mississippi. I ate at some wonderful restaurants while staying there. The food in Meridian is so good. They have some wonderful cooks. One place that I looked up, that had great reviews was Zac's Catfish and Chicken. They are locally owned and operated. They serve fried catfish, bone-in catfish, shrimp, seafood platters, salads, poboys, burgers, sandwiches and I could go on. HaHaHa Well, I ordered their catfish platter, shrimp poboy and onion rings. So good you guys! So tasty! We went back another day and ordered their chicken tender platter. Its awesome as well. You can walk in, go through their drive thru, order online and even call them to place an order. They'll have it ready! I was really impressed with them.

Logans Roadhouse | Cracker Barrel | Zac's Catfish & Chicken | Weidmann's Restaurant Since 1870

Evacuation Guide And Checklist

Cracker Barrel | Christmas Decorations 2021

Not Sponsored: Hey Everybody! I evacuated from Hurricane Ida several weeks ago. It started off as a tropical depression and when I looked up it was forecast to be a Category 4, possible 5 hurricane. So having been through Hurricane Katrina (and many other hurricanes), I evacuated to Meridian, Mississippi. I've passed through Meridian driving to Cincinnati, Ohio but I've never stayed there. Very nice city and the people are really friendly. Well, there was a Cracker Barrel Restaurant nearby. I wanted a good breakfast so I decided to drop in. When I opened the door, I thought I had won a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket ... OH THE MARVELOUS SURPRISES that greeted my eyes. If you're a foodie lover like me, hold on! You will love their ornaments!!! There were chocolate chip cookies, Twinkies, Hostess cupcakes, Charms Blow Pops, ICEE's, SLUSHIES, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll Pops. I really thought I was going to lose it. Everything was so tempting. Scattered throughout the store were theme decorated trees. I wanted all the nutcrackers and gingerbread men on display. There were cute frosted Christmas themed houses. If you decorate using a blue & pink theme, there are cute gumdrop trees, snowmen, mugs and even a cute pink jukebox you can add to your collection. Its happiness for the eyes. It offered a pleasure relief from the worries of the hurricane. I picked up a couple of ornaments to add to my trees at home. As always, I had a wonderful breakfast at Cracker Barrel. A lot of what you see below can be found on their website, if you can't make it to a store. Some are only offered in store. It's September, and these decorations are already out. So don't let grass grow under your feet if you want them. Their Halloween stuff is almost gone. Just thought I would share. Below are some more places I visited in Meridian, Mississippi.

Logans Roadhouse | Cracker Barrel | Zac's Catfish & Chicken | Weidmann's Restaurant Since 1870

Evacuation Guide And Checklist

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