View Full Version : And Speaking of Hurricane Andrew ....................

big dog
11-16-2011, 09:46 AM
The following is a letter to the editor I sent to Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA) magazine detailing our "experience" with Hurricane Andrew as new aquarium keepers! Published in February 1993 ..........................

And Speaking of Hurricane Andrew ...

We received the following letter from Greg Mallory of Baton Rouge:

By now you have all heard that Hurricane Andrew swept through Florida and Louisiana. I live in Baton Rouge and was one of the lucky folk who went without power for only four days. Being in the marine aquarium hobby for less than a year I was hardly ready for the next four days of insanity.

Having read numerous books as well as getting great advice from Mark Burd of Mark's Marine Aquarium (a local retailer), I set up a 62-gallon marine aquarium in February of 1992. At the time of the hurricane the tank contained a Lionfish, Jeweled damsel, Painted parrot, Green bird wrasse, Paddlefin wrasse, Hermit crab and a two foot Zebra Moray eel. Now, don't get me wrong, my power has gone out since this undertaking, but never longer than the proverbial 12 hour danger zone.

The storm hit in my area at 3:00am, and I was at work. I arrived home at about 8:00am and that ride was a story in itself! Power had been out five hours so there was nothing to worry about yet. I had just finished working a 12 hour shift with two more to go so I went to bed and told my wife to wake me at 1:00 pm, I got up at 11:00am because the last thing I heard on the radio before I turned in was to expect extended power outages. Needless to say, I didn't sleep as well as expected!

By 4:00p.m. I was really starting to worry; I had to leave for work at 6:00pm and I had no idea what to do and I was desperate to save our fish, especially my baby, the eel. (I had waited three months for him!). So, I dug out a battery operated drink mixer and started agitating the water to get the fish some air. I also started to bail water from the wet/dry sump back to the aquarium to cause a flow through the filter and to try to keep the filter bacteria alive. Before I left for work and handed everything over to my wife and 10 year old son, we settled on agitating the water and bailing approximately 15-gallons every 4-hours.

When I got home the next morning, the fish were okay and my wife and son had done a wonderful job. I took my shifts between naps while my wife went to work pretty tired. Before I left for work the following night my wife brought home a battery operated air pump she found at a bait shop. This was really a good thing since the drink mixer wore out earlier in the day. I pulled the battery out of my Harley and we now had air. My wife and son picked up the bailing chores again and ran the air pump while they bailed the 15-gallons every 4-hours.

By the time I arrived home Friday morning the power had been out approximately 54-hours. And, my family and I were exhausted and about to give in. Our only hope was that power was coming on in our general neighborhood, although not on our residential block as yet. This is really frustrating when you work for a power company and have been supplying power to others and can see street lights on three blocks away!

At 2:00p.m. Friday, I hooked my truck battery up to the air pump because the Harley battery was as dead as a hammer. At 4:00pm the local discount store rented a generator and opened for business, so I ran up and bought a bilge pump for boats and hooked it up. The strategy was to run the air pump and the bilge pump for fifteen minutes every four hours.

By Saturday morning we still had no power, but the fish seemed to be fine. The water was looking bad so I called Mark. When I finally reached him I took his advice and did a water change which the fish seemed to enjoy. We were still on air/bilge shifts and I was feeling a whole lot better than I had been feeling two days prior. At 4:30pm on Saturday we suddenly had our power restored and everyone in the house sighed in relief.

I set the aquarium up normally and, after 86 hours without power, we had suffered no losses. On Monday I did another water change and by Tuesday the aquarium looked as good as new. On Wednesday I paid a visit to Mark's store and listened to past and present horror stories. Some of his customers still didn't have power. Mark had rented a generator the Monday before the storm and was housing numerous fish and inverts for his loyal customers. Most everyone I talked to since the storm who didn't have power restored within 48 hours experienced losses. I felt quite fortunate to come out of it so well.

Some of the lessons I learned were that I probably shouldn't have fed the fish and I had fed them normally. The reason for this is that less activity would mean less oxygen usage. I probably should have done a water change sooner but, like I said at the beginning, I am rather new at this, and I didn't get to talk to Mark until Saturday and he gave me the suggestion. I also learned the hard way that everyone should evaluate their systems and prepare an emergency kit similar to the one I now have.

I would like to close by thanking my wife and son for their help. Without them we couldn't have saved those fish. I would also like to thank Mark Burd for his expertise and quality stock because all my fish came from his store. Nothing can substitute for a caring and knowledgeable shop owner. I have since added a Potters angel and Cleaner wrasse and all are well. I'm hooked and dreaming of the 180-gallon aquarium I hope to get someday.

Gregory P. Mallory
Baker, Louisiana

11-22-2011, 10:12 PM
Thanks for sharing!! So glad we have a generator ;)

11-23-2011, 12:14 AM
Wow great story. A couple years back when we had a big snow storm my wife and I rushed out to buy a generator so we wouldn't have to go thru anything like that.

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

11-28-2011, 06:00 PM
+1 on the generator... necessary with Duquesne Light- they are terrible.