Preparing for Disasters
Disaster preparation can be done at any time.
In 2012, I lived through Hurricane Sandy. Having lived through three Florida hurricanes in college; I thought hey, I got this! I was so wrong! There was a whole group of us that wanted to partake in the hurricane party rather than actually keep safe from the storm. It wasn’t until the waters began to rise near my first floor apartment that I thought, oh, boy…this isn’t good.
We needed to get to higher ground, so I asked a friend if we could stay the night at his second floor walk up. At that point we had moved the entire contents of the fridge to my friend’s apartment. It made sense to keep rations and supplies together with the people anyway. The storm hit and we didn’t have power for three days. Not a complete loss considering some people I knew lost power for days, which later turned into weeks.
The main thing everyone complained about was their phone dying. After that storm, I bought a hefty multi-purpose charging battery. But, that was just in my circle of 30 and 40 somethings. When I got back to work two days after the storm, I heard of seniors living in fifth floor walk ups who hadn’t received a meal since the storm hit. I heard stories about oxygen tanks teetering on low. I heard stories of animals lost.
After Sandy, we made a huge push to get people signed up for emergency alerts (including listing any pets). We began a county-wide neighbor-to-neighbor program where younger community members were asked to check on frail or vulnerable senior residents. Senior centers were asked to stock up on emergency meals and deliver them to housebound seniors. The buddy system can offer some relief because the senior will know they are not left alone during a disaster. Just be sure to make copies of important keys!
Seniors can utilize their strong community networks to develop community disaster preparedness plans. Everyone is gathered around anyway. It wouldn’t take long to flesh out a plan of action for when a disaster strikes between a senior group and a host agency. Senior centers or local fire and police agencies are a good place to start conversations. The biggest challenge would be fluid communication throughout the disaster.
Disasters should not be taken lightly. Have the evacuation route somewhere and don’t be afraid to leave if you know a potential disaster is on the way. Buy an emergency car kit with warming blankets and water. A separate emergency kit should include some clothes and any medications or devices needed for travel. Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit or an extra pair of glasses either! It’s ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry!