Living with credit

Tropical Storm Hermine takes on Austin

Emily Crone

I know I recently wrote about hurricanes, but I have more to say. When I wrote the last post, hurricanes weren’t affecting me — I was just reading about them in the news. But this week, Tropical Storm Hermine arrived in Austin, where I live. By the time it hit, it was degraded to a tropical storm, but it still slammed areas of Central Texas with up to 15 inches of rain in some parts in just two days.

Emily's list: Hurricane Hermine takes on Austin editionTropical Storm Hermine lands in Texas.
Source: NASA

We didn’t get it quite as bad in Austin as some of the other nearby areas did, but we experienced heavy non-stop rain all day and night on Tuesday — a shock after a very dry and hot summer. Some of the rain was torrential, with major wind gusts and falling tree branches, and a lot of roads were flooded. According to the Austin American-Statesman, at least a dozen people had to be rescued from rushing water. The flooding in Hermine’s aftermath killed eight people in the region.

Why is this newsworthy? In Austin, we are almost never affected by tropical storms or their big brothers and sisters, hurricanes. Residents of Florida, the Caribbean and some parts of the East Coast know that hurricanes are a part of life. But not here.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people fled to Austin. Many Houstonians, including some of my family, came to Austin to preemptively get away from Hurricane Ike. But Hermine was unexpected for Austinites. It really does go to show how the unexpected can happen, especially with natural disasters, and the importance of saving up for emergencies.

It’s one thing to set aside money for a “just in case” emergency fund, but what about planned expenses? A friend of mine just mentioned ideas for a Halloween party, which made me realize it’s nearly fall, which means the winter holidays will be here before we know it. And for most of us, that means big, fat debt.

Although I automatically deposit $15 a week from my checking to a savings account for an unknown future emergency, I find that I never end up saving enough for the holidays in advance. I (and most other people I know) wait until the last minute to buy gifts for all of our friends and family, but come February, or even later, we question why we still have credit card debt due to holiday gifts.

The time to begin saving for the holidays is now! Unlike an unexpected hurricane, you can plan for the holidays, but many of us don’t. It may sound crazy to start setting aside money for the holidays in September, but you will thank me come January.

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  • Thank you for the link love! And I agree that we need to budget for emergencies — including things we never thought of as emergencies. When called for jury duty I was really concerned; as a freelance writer, I don’t get paid if I don’t work. Had I been selected as a juror on a long trial I would have been in trouble. I talked to a couple of other people in the jury room whose employers told them they would NOT be paid for hours they didn’t put in. They were sweating bullets, too.
    If it’s kosher to post URLs, here’s the link:

  • Hi Emily- I came across your post about Hurricane Hermine’s rainfall in Austin and southeastern Texas. You are so right! As a meteorologist who keeps tabs and writes about all of the tropical cyclones around the world each day, you never know when one of these storms (or any other natural disaster) will come your way until days before. Hermine developed rapidly off the coast and gave very little time to prepare. Your advice to save for such emergencies is very wise! Despite folks being inland, they should also know that when tropical cyclones (generic name for hurricane, tropical storm or tropical depression) make landfall, they usually become HUGE Rainmakers and cause inland flooding. SO, folks should have an emergency kit including flashlights, bottled water, dry food (cereal, crackers), and medications in one place – in a plastic tub. Important papers should also be kept in a waterproof container. It’s always good to be prepared!
    Sincerely, Rob Gutro, NASA’s Hurricane Web Page:

  • Thanks so much for your comment, Rob. Having lived through several hurricanes during my years in South Florida, I tend to give little respect to “mere” tropical storms. A few seconds of hydroplaning during my commute home last week cured me of that.

  • Donna: Thanks for sharing — that’s a great point! I wouldn’t have thought of jury duty as a financial emergency, but I can see how it could be devastating to a freelancer.
    Rob: Thanks for chiming in with the great tips! You’re right, there was very little time to prepare for Hermine. I should probably put together an emergency box!

  • Amanda

    Hermine never became a hurricane–it only got to a tropical storm even making landfall. I’d suggest you make that correction when blogging about it.

  • You are correct, Amanda, and we were in error. The blog has been corrected to downgrade Hermine (in the blog item, that is).