Being Prepared & Safe
Florida provides a wonderful environment for housing exotic birds in an outdoor aviary setting however hurricanes are a serious threat. Fortunately there is enough warning to make adequate preparations.
The threat of hurricane Floyd in September 1999 caused us to chose to evacuate all the birds which was a major undertaking. A 24 foot Uhaul truck and a 12 foot enclosed trailer plus our toppered pick-up were required to accommodate the breeding collection, the babies that were currently in the Nursery and enough supplies to sustain everyone for several days. We traveled across the state to Florida's west coast and returned three days later. Thankfully there was no major damage to our facility and we were able to place everyone back in their flights.
It had been some time since we had taken a trip however we had not intended on taking all the birds with us; it was quite an adventure, one we hoped we would not have to repeat! Our drive which under normal circumstances would have taken 3 hours took 8 due to the gridlock of all the evacuation traffic. Based on this evacuation experience, two major considerations influenced our decision to build a bunker that would house everyone securely:
1) Had our aviaries been damaged severely requiring extensive repairs before we would be able to place the birds back in their flights, our only options would be to continue the rental of the truck & trailer to house them or set their evacuation cages out on the property providing temporary protection and shelter from the elements as best we could.
2) Many times when an area is severely storm damaged residents are not allow to return until it is deemed safe from fallen electrical lines or trees blocking access have been removed. This event would have required our Uhaul accommodations be extended for possibly several days.
Our bunker was constructed in 2000 . The peace of mind having it available made the fact that it did not need to be used for 4 years well worth the expense and effort to build it and when we were again threatened with a severe storm, evacuation to it and care of the birds was a blessing compared to the trip we had made several years before. There are years we have not had to make use of it and one year only made one evacuation however 2004 we evacuated everyone to the bunker 3 times.
The size is 10 x 50 feet, reinforced block construction on a concrete floor with 4 x 4's on 12 inch centers for the ceiling topped with 5 inches of reinforced concrete. There is a generator room at the front that also houses two 55 gallon drums for water storage. The 24,000 watt generator backfeeds to the house and workshop so incubators, brooders, essential appliances and power tools can be run. The exterior walls have been protected with dirt mounded from the ground to the roof which the growth of natural vegetation has stabilized.
The photos below show various stages of the construction as well as an evacuation that was done. Please feel free to contact us if there is any information you would like or questions you may have.
Be Safe !!!