Where do you put the guitars if a hurricane strikes?

Flood Gibson Guitars

Read Time 2 Minutes

For Those Pickers and Strummers Who Reside Near a Coastline

“But while the storm flooded Mr. Uhrik’s basement and knocked out a boiler, it left his second-floor showroom and its hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare guitars unscathed. Not all of his clients were so lucky, though; last weekend he had a dozen of their instruments drying out downstairs.” – The New York Times

For those pickers and strummers who reside near a coastline or in a recognized flood zone, what do you with the guitars and amplifiers if inclement weather poses an immediate threat to life and property? Do you even bother with musical instruments in such a potentially catastrophic situation?

Safety is The Number One Priority

What happens if a once in a lifetime storm comes barreling up the coastline and forces mandatory evacuation of your home? After family members and beloved pets are secured, what cherished item, if any, does a person grab in such an emergency? Would it be a treasured heirloom, a favorite handheld computer device or perhaps a few much-loved childhood mementos? It should be something that does not add too much extra burden to the sudden flight.

What about the guitars? For some, this could be an added problem.

Where Do The Guitars Go?

Flood Gibson Guitars
The lamentable fate of guitars with too much water.

When Hurricane Sandy came ashore, after family, pets and close friends were made safe, some evacuees carried out a prized guitar on their backs while making their way to safer shelter. But what happens when players have more than one favorite. This was a problem for both acoustic and electric advocates during Sandy.

For example, The New York Times article published November 9, 2012 “A Refuge For Guitars And Musicians,” by Rebecca Flint Marx, touches on that very topic. She writes, “On the night Hurricane Sandy struck New York, Steve Uhrik stayed up with a pair of binoculars, waiting for the Gowanus Canal to overflow. He had reason to be concerned. His business, Retrofret, sells and repairs vintage stringed instruments, and it stands directly across the street from the canal’s northern terminus, only feet from its toxic waters.”

Like Uhrik, many private residents in the area also had six-string concerns during the devastating storm. It seems, as Marx points out in her article, guitar safety and storage may come down to which floor the item was situated. In hindsight and as noted in The New York Times, guitars located on at least the second floor fared better than ones below.

In low lying areas along the coast of Long Island’s south shore, particularly in Nassau County, single family homes were highly susceptible to flood damage, while nearby hulking apartment building fortresses along the beach, where the first floor was usually just a lobby, proved to offer residents a bit more safekeeping.
Which guitars do you leave behind?

In the emergency conditions caused by Sandy, how does a person decide which guitar to take for mass departure? It could be the last time you will ever see your home. Consequently, what will become of the other guitars and amps that you may own?
Which guitar will be spared? Perhaps an obvious response would be to snatch an acoustic model that might be lying around, maybe a highly valued self-contained National Steel Tricone. Fender and Gibson owners would probably have something to say about that.

The truth being, when confronted with life and death conditions like those during Hurricane Sandy, the interests of loved ones are the only things that matter. Whether it is a hollow body or solid, guitars are inanimate objects the can easily be replaced…or not.

Similar Posts:

Paul Wolfle

As a vintage and contemporary music enthusiast, guitars dominate Paul’s life. He plays slide in open tunings on a National Steel Tricone resonator and electric blues, in standard tuning, on an assortment of other instruments including his white Fender Stratocaster.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x