How to Weather the (Literal) Storm

July 02, 2024

The following is an opinion of the author, Erin Kahn, and does not necessarily reflect MFAN’s viewpoints.


When we got orders to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for the first time, I was ready for sunny days at the beautiful beaches in the area. What I got was multiple tornadoes and a hurricane that left me and my boys without power for days, all in a matter of a few months and while my husband was TDY or deployed. I had been warned about long hours and frequent deployments when I became a spouse, but no one prepared me for three days without air conditioning during August in North Carolina!


Military families have learned to expect the unexpected in this life. Still, you can do several things to help your family prepare for hazardous weather or a household emergency before it happens.


Get to know your area

When you first arrive at a new duty station, you are likely to take time to figure out the best places to grocery shop, where to get the best pizza (just us?), and the best routes for avoiding traffic when you need to run errands. What often gets forgotten is determining the best way to get local emergency alerts, where to take shelter, and restocking your emergency kit.


A little preparation can go a long way in an emergency. Visit to learn more about developing your family’s emergency plan before using it!


Caregiving families and veterans may have unique needs in an emergency. In addition to the resources mentioned here, visit the Rosalynn Carter Institute website and learn more from Mandy Barr.

Check your insurance

You may already have renters’ or homeowners’ insurance, but are you sure you’re covered in a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood? The best time to check is now before making a claim. With every PCS move, it’s always a good idea to contact your insurance company to ensure you have the appropriate insurance for your move and your new home. For example, when we moved to 29 Palms, California, I discovered that we would need to add earthquake insurance to our existing renters’ insurance policy. Thankfully, we never needed to make a claim, but I was glad I called and added that rather than finding out that our belongings weren’t covered after the fact. Have questions about insurance and what policy is right for you? The Department of Defense’s Office of Financial Readiness has prepared this helpful fact sheet to help answer your questions and connect you to a personal financial manager so you can make the right choice for your family.


While setting up insurance, it’s not a bad idea to ensure you have all your important documents organized and in one place. provides checklists and examples of the type of documents you should keep on hand in case of an emergency. As an added bonus, organizing these documents will also make preparing for your next PCS move a little easier!


Have a plan

Your family’s unique circumstances will directly impact how you choose to handle any emergency or hazardous weather event. Knowing information like your evacuation zone and routes, where your emergency kit is located, and having a family communication plan can help an already stressful situation seem a bit more manageable. The American Red Cross has planning resources and several emergency apps you can download to help you plan how to handle an emergency, receive weather alerts, and access interactive maps if you need to find an emergency shelter.


Don’t Forget: Military OneSource has a variety of articles and resources available to help you create a family emergency plan and identify base resources that can support you before and after disaster strikes.



No matter how well we plan, natural disasters and other emergencies happen. In the immediate aftermath, following the guidance of first responders and the local emergency management office is essential to ensure your safety and support recovery efforts in your community. Recovery won’t happen overnight, and seeking help when needed is important. Military aid societies, the American Red Cross, and FEMA can all connect you to a variety of services that will help with finances, clean up, and emergency shelter and food. In the midst of the physical recovery, organizations like the Cohen Veterans Network have various virtual and in-person resources for managing stress for the entire family.


Military moves have allowed our family to live in various places across the country where we probably wouldn’t have chosen to live on our own. While we all have our checklists and PCS planning binders, the one thing many of us forget is planning for an emergency in our new home. Fortunately, with a little planning and knowing the resources available to you, these situations can be a little less stressful for you and your family – even without air conditioning!

About the Author

Erin Kahn

Senior Manager of Programs
Erin Kahn is an active duty Marine Corps spouse with a background in non-profit program and product management.
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