One of the most bizarre hurricane stories ever told to me was from a client’s son in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. While holding on for his life in flood waters, a chihuahua came floating by him on a surfboard. I just have a hard time imagining that but look at the photo above. One of the saddest hurricane stories is the death of twelve seniors at a Florida nursing home following Hurricane Irma. The people responsible for taking care of them are now facing criminal prosecution.

The Miami Herald published a story, What Should Seniors Do As Dorian Threatens Florida? and noted the special preparations needed for elderly friends, neighbors and relatives:

▪ Keep prescription medications and approved vitamins organized. This includes excess meds they may have on hand so you aren’t scrambling and searching in dim light should the power be out. Also, keep copies of prescriptions in case pharmacies close during or temporarily after a storm passes.

▪ Gather medical records, including information about healthcare needs, insurance cards and emergency contact information.

▪ Stock up on water. The Froios recommend enough to drink at least a gallon a day to provide hydration.

▪ Have nonperishable food handy, preferably rich in B12 vitamin and low in sodium.

▪ Pack a spare bag with blankets, extra clothing and comfortable shoes.

▪ If your senior relies on special medical equipment such as eyeglasses, catheters, batteries or oxygen systems, stock up on spare items in case stores close.

▪ Have a safe place to keep items like flashlights, battery-powered radios, and a whistle easily accessible in case of an emergency.

▪ Place copies of family records and other important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, passports, wills, deeds, and financial, insurance and immunizations records and emergency family contact numbers in a sealed, waterproof bag.

▪ Have cash on hand.

▪ If your loved one is in a nursing home or assisted living facility you need to be on top of them to make sure they have, and you know the details of, an evacuation plan.

Pets are important. Most people consider their pet as part of the family. Hurricane Katrina taught us many hurricane preparation and recovery lessons. One was explained by Congressman Tom Lantros and lead to the passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS):

The scene from New Orleans of a 9-year-old little boy crying because he was not allowed to take his little white dog Snowball was too much to bear. Personally, I know I wouldn’t have been able to leave my little white dog Masko to a fate of almost certain death. As I watched the images of the heartbreaking choices the gulf residents had to make, I was moved to find a way to prevent this from ever happening again.1

This law requires states seeking FEMA assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents during hurricanes. FEMA has published a manual for Emergency Planning For Household Pets and Service Animals which all public disaster officials should read and implement.

The ASPCA lists the following for your pets:

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:

▪ Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.

▪ The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.

▪ Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home in a crisis.

▪ Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is, and that it clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your “Evac-Pack” include:

▪ Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)

▪ 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)

▪ Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)

▪ Litter or paper toweling

▪ Liquid dish soap and disinfectant

▪ Disposable garbage bags for clean-up

▪ Pet feeding dishes and water bowls

▪ Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash

▪ Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)

▪ At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)

▪ A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet

▪ Flashlight

▪ Blanket

▪ Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)

▪ Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter

▪ Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner.

We all should be fortunate enough to grow old. I would suggest we take some time to contact our older neighbors, friends and relatives whom you may be concerned about if Hurricane Dorian strikes. I know a lot of insurance claim professionals who read this blog are really busy right now, but please take a moment and think of one just one person you can reach out to and then pass on this message. Caring for others who are not strong enough or in a position to care for themselves in a time of impending disaster is following the Golden Rule.

Thought For The Day

The average dog is nicer than the average person.
—Andy Rooney
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1 Read more here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pets_Evacuation_and_Transportation_Standards_Act.

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Chip:

    Waiting on the arrival of a hurricane is very stressful and scary!! I feel extra bad for the elderly and disabled people you discussed above. Often, people become so caught up in their own lives and affairs, that they forget about the less fortunate. Indeed, at the Sam’s store today, there was a 2 package limit on water because people were getting greedy trying to buy more than needed. Sam’s Management had a sign on the water saying “More water is on the way, but until then there is a 2 carton limit.”

    I live in Tampa and I hope it misses us, of course, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about and feel bad for the people in the areas that Dorian is projected to hit the most. Indeed, my mother and aunts and any other elderly and disabled people I can help, will make it through Dorian and I’ll make sure of that!

    Respectfully,
    SHIRLEY HEFLIN
    Tampa, FL