Hurricane Irene was 50 miles north of us at her closest point as a Cat. 2 hurricane with winds 100 mph. Where we are on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic has never had a direct hit and all have stayed north. This puts us on the lesser side of a hurricane. Our winds maybe hit 80 mph at the most. Lots of leaves and twigs clean up that has lasted 4 days.
We designed our place being on the Atlantic Ocean for such events; doubled up on the re-bar in the concrete and block walls, large roof overhangs and deep porches on the ocean side. Even some angles in the design and bow windows to deflect the wind. Solar, wind generator, inverter/batteries, diesel generator with lots of fuel storage. Water cisterns with rain water catches and storing about 60K of water that can be purified. Double glass with ocean side having extra thick glass with one being laminated. Some of the design was also due to being in a place where water, electricity and security are also a priority.
We had some guests while Irene was going by. We advised them and gave them choices. They wanted to stay. We did move them from the master bedroom on the 2nd floor ocean side down to the protected side of the house on the first floor. We showed them how to evacuate into other parts of the main house that are even more protected and where to get to our area if they needed us. All went well but it all came down to having a plan and then letting our guests know.
So this is about having a plan. Know what you have, what it will stand up to and have several plans that you have thought out and gone over. Then do it again and again and again.
Irene is now making her way up the East Coast and my thoughts are with you. Stay safe. It's a little late to start your plan now if you don't have one.
Just wanted to point out this Group on Community dedicated to all vacation rental owners and travelers who may have been affected by Hurricane Irene. If you have been impacted or are just interested you can find good resources here.