Everyone should approach hurricane preparedness with careful consideration and planning, but things can be especially complicated for people living with disabilities or limited mobility. Individuals and families with these additional concerns should take extra preparatory measures based on their specific needs.
Some hurricane plan modifications may simply be additions to what you pack in your hurricane kit, while others may require additional planning or evacuation resources.
It should be noted that local Florida paratransit services may be able to help with evacuation or scheduling you for pickup should evacuation be necessarily. For example, Broward County has specific instructions and resources for the homeless, elderly, people with special needs, those with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
While we’re still in the early stages of Hurricane Season 2020, now is an ideal time to familiarize yourself with these resources. Don’t hesitate to call the Hurricane Information Hotline to learn about your transportation options. Most of these resources should also have hearing-speech impaired/TTY answering services as well.
Related to the last point – make sure you have information regarding your private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, as unexpected medical costs, such as equipment replacement costs, could occur along the way.
Many people with disabilities will need to evacuate with their service animals, which means also having the necessary:
Although most emergency evacuation shelters do not accept pets, they will likely allow your service animal.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing should certainly have a pen and paper in their hurricane kit as they will likely be interacting with individuals who don’t know sign language if they’re evacuating or staying at shelters. Having a weather radio with flashing alerts and a text display, plus extra batteries, and a TTY device will also be useful during evacuation.
Knowing where emergency supplies should be and marking them with braille or large print labels will be helpful. Ideally you should have a braille or deaf-blind communications device in your hurricane kit. Having either a portable flash drive or an easily accessible audio file with your emergency supply list may also come in handy.
People with limited mobility, hearing or vision impairments or other functional difficulties are well served by knowing who they can rely on for assistance should an evacuation order go into effect. Many of these people can get along fine on their own, but what would be an easy journey during normal times can become unexpectedly hazardous or troublesome when wind, rain, flooding, blocked streets and power outages are a factor.
If there’s a person in your life who could use a little extra help or would benefit from having someone they can reach for assistance should the need arise, consider contacting them to become a part of their hurricane support network.