When (natural) disaster strikes!

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So, I had a new experience last week.  My first Florida hurricane!  Having grown up in Virginia, and experienced a few tropical storms as well as a weak hurricane or two I considered myself totally prepared for what was to breadcome.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the empty bread and water shelves at the grocery stores; the gas stations with lines around the block and the others that were deserted after having run out of gasoline.

People take hurricanes very seriously around here… and for good reason.  It was pretty tense in Miami for the 48 hours leading up to the storm.  School was canceled, people were let off of work, and it just seemed like there was a mutual understanding by the people of Miami that preparation for this storm was hurricane-matthewessential.   In Miami we got very lucky.  A little rain, a little wind, but nothing nearly as bad as it would have been had hurricane Matthew taken a more westward path.  But, seeing how seriously people take these storms made me check myself, and adjust my smug attitude.

It was my fiancé that brought up the instruments as we were preparing the house for the storm.  I was shocked.  I am normally so hyper-careful with all of my instruments, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that we needed to include the instruments in our preparations.

So I learned a few lessons… which I’ll share here.  I am by no means an expert, and I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences and advice on how to protect your instrument in nasty weather!

Hurricane Harp Prep:

  • Get your harp to high ground!! 
    • If your house is 2 levels, get some help and bring your harp upstairs
    • If your house is a single level, find a safe place that can handle the weight of your instrument that sits above the ground.  Place a Lever harps on top of a coffee table, couche, or even toilet!  Lay a pedal harps flat on a bed.
    • Don’t have a suitable place to store your harp during the storm?  Consider putting your harp into your car before the storm hits.  If flood waters loom high enough you will need to get out anyway, and this way your harp is ready to go!!
  • Place harp away from windows!
  • Ensure that travel cover, dolly, and sheet music is secure, and in a place where they won’t potentially get wet.
    • These accessories, especially the travel cover and dolly, are expensive and essential to the transportation, maintenance, and use of your instrument.  Their safety is just as important as the instrument itself!!

Earthquake Harp Prep:

I haven’t ever lived in an area that has to worry about earthquakes… so I can only go off of what I have read from others experiences.  Here are a few of the ideas that I found to protect your instrument during an earthquake:

  • Stabilization cables.  Hang two cables from the ceiling at a length to hold the harp in two places; at the neck and right before the column.  Keep these cables connected anytime you are not actively using your harp, ensuring it remains upright even when the ground shakes!
  • Strap it to the wall.  This may seem simple… but sometimes simplicity saves the day!
  • Store it in a corner, with extra padding in the area closest to the wall.  If it falls at least it won’t fall far!

tornado-harp

Tornado Harp Prep:

Honestly… I have no idea.  Harpists who live in tornado-prone areas: How do you ensure the safety of your instrument when disaster strikes??

Remember…

We can’t control the weather, but we can control our reaction to it!  If something happens to your instrument because of a natural disaster, first, don’t panic!  Even though are instruments often seem like an extension of our own souls, at the end of the day, that harp is just a thing.  You can always replace things.  With that said… be sure to cover yourself by always protecting your investment through your homeowner’s insurance or coverage through a private instrument insurance company for your harp.

Do you have any experiences with your harp in natural disasters?  How did you protect your investment?? Comment below to share your stories and advice for how you protect your harp when the weather gets bad!

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About Author

Miami based Dr. of harp, gown-addict, lover of bulldogs, and fitness enthusiast.

3 Comments

  1. Gretchen Cover on

    I took my recording harp with me when we evacuated due to Matthew. Otherwise, place your harp, covered as best you can, in a walk-in shower, closet or room in the center of the house. You may want to place it in doubled or tripled large garbage can bags. Tie them so the ties cross the top of the harp to hold the bag(s) up. That could help if the house floods. Obviously, moving the harp to the highest place in the house helps prevent water damage but most Florida houses are one story. Make sure even beforehand that you have adequate insurance for replacemwnt value or repairs. Be sure to place sheet music in water tight bins and place them on countertops or other high places. You may want to duct tape the bins closed. Matthew was hurricane 5 for me.

  2. Juanito Riveros on

    This past December, the day after Christmas, I recently went through a tornado. In North Texas, tornadoes are not very frequent but when they strike, they do a lot of damage. Luckily, I was safe (as well as my fellow harpists in the area), and we all had similar preparations for the worst. We completely covered our harps with heavy duty transport covers and placed them in a lower level bathroom (preferably without windows and as close to the center of the house as possible). For me, this was in the bathroom under the main staircase. I also placed my harp right against the wall so that any vibrations from the tornado that shake the house don’t knock over the harp.

  3. samandfrodo@juno.com on

    Even Florida gets tornados. I survived one this past January 17, 2016 in Rotonda West , Fl. Fortunately my navy dad had his roof strapped down with heavy strapping for just these events. Tornados can suction up like a vacuum cleaner. Most housing is made of concrete blocks in Fl. A central closet away from windows or a shower stall that’s all concrete even on top is a best place for you and your harp to be. There is a company called Oz that makes ‘safe rooms’. Really. These are the only rooms that can withstand an F5 tornado. If you live in these tornado alleys consider the investment. Yes, you get an insurance discount for having them. You can ‘park’ your harps in these rooms every night if the season is high for tornados .

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