Hurricane season: Creative, low-cost ways to survive and recover

As climate change heats up our oceans, hurricanes will get stronger and more destructive. That’s bad news for everyone living on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. But it’s especially bad for the millions of low-income people who lack the resources to evacuate, properly prepare or recover.

This year, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts between 13 and 20 named storms. Half are expected to become hurricanes. Elsa, which did not develop into a major threat, was this year’s first named hurricane.

Natural disaster preparedness guides often contain information about evacuation routes or how much diesel to have on hand.

But what if you don’t have a car to escape, a generator to keep the power on or a family out of town that is able to take you in?

“Low-income doesn’t have to mean helpless,” said Hank Hodde, the sustainability & resiliency coordinator in Pinellas County, Fla. “Pooling resources is important.”

Be connected to social media.

–          Often local governments and law enforcement will inform residents of what weather is coming, nearby hazards and where fresh water and ice can be collected, as well as any updates on utilities.

–          Join Facebook groups for FEMA, your local neighborhood, county and state.

–          Sign up for local government text alerts.

Know where to find help.

–          Print off or collect local checklists from your library.

–          Identify local volunteer organizations, like the Red Cross.

–          Older folks should inform your local church of where you live.

–          Sign up to your county’s special needs registry.

Know your neighbors and pool basic resources.

–          Identify who has a chainsaw in the neighborhood or on your street.

–          Does someone have extra deep freezer space you can use?

–          What about a truck?

–          Who has the generator where you can charge your phone?

“It can even be knowing who the strong and capable people are in your neighborhood,” said Hodde. “These things can often be intuitive but take no chances during a hurricane.”

Keep records.

Take pictures of important documents and save them somewhere like the cloud or email. It will help making insurance claims or getting assistance much easier.

–          Your house deed or mortgage paperwork.

–          Any insurance paperwork.

–          Your driver’s license

–          Passport

–          Birth certificate

–          The front and back of bank cards

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