Using your Motorhome, Fifthwheel, or Travel Trailer in a Disaster

By : CONNIE GALLANT March 08, 2017

Owning an RV may be a luxury to some and a vital necessity to others. As evidenced during climate-related disasters, having an RV that you can depend on to get you out of the immediate area is a lifesaver. This is exactly what happened to RV Consumer Group's longtime members Virgil and Alice Russell, residents of Louisiana. The Russells purchased a motor home years ago strictly for vacation use. Little did they know then that the same motor home would save their family's lives. When Hurricane Katrina loomed on the Louisiana horizon, Virgil and Alice did not waste any time. They gathered whatever they could from their home and, along with Alice's mother, they left the state as quickly as possible. A couple of days later, their home was under 8 feet of water.

Although just about everything in their home was totally ruined, they are nevertheless extremely thankful for their lives, and for being fortunate enough to be able to ride out such catastrophe in relative comfort and familiar surroundings.

We are not advocating that you rush out and buy a motor home or towable to keep in your driveway for one of those "in case of emergency" situations. However, having been in close calls ourselves more than once, we are well aware of the value of owning an RV.

Years ago when JD and I were fulltiming in our old converted bus, we experienced many situations where being an RVer was a definite advantage. It helped us develop a very simple philosophy: "When things don't look right, get out of Dodge".

Whether you full-time in your RV or use it occasionally, there are certain items you should always keep in the drawers and closets.

We would like to share with you some of the comments that Virgil & Alice Russell sent to us at that time:

  • In previous evacuations, we did pack our photo albums to take with us. Unfortunately, this time we were rushing to beat the evacuation grid lock and left them home. Alice did pack most of her jewelry.


  • We had a 24-hour head-start on most evacuees as I always keep the motor home gassed up and ready to go during hurricane season. I evacuated once in a car because the motor home was in the shop for servicing. Now I never take it to the shop during hurricane season unless it is absolutely necessary.


  • We were well stocked up on food. We stuffed the freezer and fridge full of perishables. Alice can stuff more food into a small space than you can imagine.
    We left New Orleans and went to a campground between Jackson and Vicksburg, MS. Planned to wait it out there. Next morning the radio said to expect 100 mph winds there, so we moved on west to the first available campsite far enough west. That was on the Texas border. Spent 2 nights there, but it was a muddy, smelly campground. We called ahead and found a very nice campground near Kilogre that we had stayed at once before. They had space so we moved there.


  • There was wi-fi and a phone hookup at the campsite. This was a lifesaver as our cell phones would not receive calls, only outgoing calls to non-New Orleans area codes. The Internet was the only way we were able to keep in touch with family and friends who were scattered everywhere. We then went to our niece's home in San Antonio and the Shriners gave us a campsite with electricity. Just as we were getting ready to go back to New Orleans, along came Hurricane Rita. We finally got back by retracing our circuitous route to the North.


  • Absolutely the motor home was the way to evacuate. Much easier to find someplace to camp than to find a room!

After reading the Russell's saga, it's difficult to imagine not having an RV for a quick escape to safer grounds.


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