Hurricane Preparedness-Caring for elderly in Fort Bend County
Every year the weather experts around the country predict how many hurricanes the season will produce. However, at Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels’ recent Hurricane Preparedness Day, speakers from different organizations spoke on being prepared and caring for the elderly in the county. David Vasquez, chairman of the board of directors, for the organization was the emcee.
Dan Reilly, meteorologist, National Weather Services, from the podium noted it does not matter how many hurricanes are forecasted, because it only takes one.
“This year, forecasts predict above average number of storms, but it only takes one. In 1983 there were only four named storms, but one of those storms was Allison, which dumped three feet of rain on the area,” Reilly said.
In its 28th year of issuing predictions, the Colorado State University forecast team today predicted an above-average 2011 Atlantic basin hurricane season with 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and November 30. Nine of those are expected to turn into hurricanes with five developing into major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The active season is based on current La Nina conditions that are expected to transition to near-neutral conditions during the heart of the hurricane season.
“Don’t wait for a storm because store shelves will be cleared by then. Also, be sure to visit our website for a preparation guide and additional helpful information. The website is www.nhc.noaa.gov” he said.
Shauna Evans, volunteer program Fort Bend County, Emergency Management asked all residents to visit the website www.enablefortbend.com.
“On the website there is a survey which will assist Fort Bend County departments, such as the Office of Emergency Management and Health & Human Services, plan how to assist people with special needs, such as the elderly, in the county during an emergency or natural disaster. Caregivers are invited to complete the survey for those in their care,” Evans said.
This survey however, is not a request for hurricane evacuation transportation, since Fort Bend County is not an evacuation county. However, if severe weather is anticipated, some people may need to be moved to a safer place or people with special needs may require assistance due to power outages, medications or medical support.
“This survey will help us identify people who may need assistance during an emergency and assist us in planning for such an event,” Evans said.
Randy Prior, manager, CenterPoint, Fort Bend County, noted that CenterPoint is conducting mock drills to prepare for the 2011 hurricane season.
“If a storm comes we will deploy our resources and we also have the option to bring in resources from around the country. During hurricane Ike, we brought in 10,000 resources for electrical restoration. Every storm is different, such as Ike was mainly a wind storm, others might be wind and rain or just rain,” Prior said.
Prior added that CenterPoint suggest people prepare for a two week without electricity.
“It is also important to unplug appliances, turn off the main breaker to your home,” Prior said.
If a storm does hit, for those who have access to the website, residents can track by zip code the day their power will be restored. That website is, www.centerpointenergy.com.
The Red Cross’ representative Caroline Egan, program coordinator, Emergency Services, recommends Red Cross’ three easy steps to prepare for hurricane season: get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
“A kit would consist of prescriptions needed by the family, change of clothes, non-perishable food, manual can opener, favorite bedding, sanitation items such as soap, garbage bags, personal items, water, glasses, hearing aids, flashlights, batteries, battery operated radio, and other emergency supplies,” Egan said.
Yet, she added, do not rush out and buy everything today, but when you are at the store, pick-up one or two items. Build your kit a little by little.
“Also, make a plan. For example, have the phone number of someone that all family members can call and check in with. Have a place to meet, such as the mail boxes at the end of the street. Also, if evacuation is necessary, make a plan for your pets and a plan of where to go. Caregivers make a plan for those you care for today and do not take it for granted that if there is a storm you will have all plans ironed out then,” Egan said.
If increment weather hits Fort Bend County, Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels will arrange evacuation for shut-in elderly or any on their programs, if needed.
“Usually, in Fort Bend County, we are asked to hunker down, so our organization is collecting hurricane supplies for shut-in seniors and are asking for the community’s help. Any items your family would need during a hurricane would be needed by a senior citizen shut-in,” Manuela Arroyos, CEO, Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels said.
Also, Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels is in the process of delivering five shelf-stable meals and water to each of the 700+ shut-in seniors in case of a hurricane.
“Yet, during a hurricane, as you know, it takes more than food and water, it takes flashlights, batteries, pet food and other items, so we hope the community will help support this Hurricane Preparedness Drive,” Arroyos said.
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