Hurricane Preparedness for Inland Communities

As another hurricane season is upon us, one of the forgotten challenges is how mass evacuations of coastal communities can affect inland communities that are tasked with housing and supporting a huge influx of people. This in itself can create its own kind of hurricane emergency, so it is important for inland communities to prepare for mass evacuations with the proper emergency rations and disaster supplies that are needed when everyday resources become limited by a sudden crush of people.Do you live on a hurricane evacuation route?

If you live on a hurricane evacuation route, like a major interstate or highway with designated contra-flow lanes, then it would be smart to keep a ready stock of disaster supplies in your home. When mass evacuations occur, things we take for granted are suddenly in short supply. You may not be able to get gas, water, and even bread! In fact, you may find it impossible to even drive across town. Emergency rations will be purchased not only by your town people, but by people running from the hurricane. Therefore, stock up on canned goods, meals ready to eat, personal hygiene items, bottled water and soft drinks, and five-gallon containers of gasoline. These things can be bought and stored at the very beginning of hurricane season. If the National Hurricane Center reports that a hurricane is headed towards a coastal town that would evacuate to your area, then it’s time to buy nonperishables that you will need for the duration of not only the hurricane itself, but a few days before and after. Mass evacuations start before the hurricane comes inland. Then it may be a few days before authorities allow people back into coastal communities, so make sure you have what you need to stay home and supplied for at least a week.

It is unlikely that you will be without electricity or infrastructures that keep your home comfortable. What you’ll find to be more problematic during a hurricane is your ability to get everyday supplies that we normally take for granted.

Dealing with more people than your town can accommodate

So you’re well prepared with emergency rations and disaster supplies, but you still have to go to work and live in your overcrowded town. Mass evacuations pose another problem for inland communities; too many people. Since everyone is expected to evacuate during a hurricane, that means not all of those people in your town will be nice people. Therefore, you’ll need to be prepared from a safety standpoint, too. Make sure all of your doors and storage units are securely locked. Don’t leave items that are easily stolen in the open. Don’t assist strangers if you feel nervous about the individual. Call your local law enforcement if you see someone in distress. Don’t give people money. Try to keep your travel efficient – work to home. Don’t feel compelled to share your emergency rations with strangers. If an emergency preparedness official asks you to, then consider doing it, but protect yourself and your property. If you see any questionable activity during the mass evacuation, call law enforcement. And don’t forget about your pets! Make sure you have plenty of food and a safe place for them, too.

Ways you can help

It is good to volunteer to help out during emergency mass evacuations, so check with your local emergency agencies at the beginning of hurricane season. Find out what they need stocked in shelters. Find out where you can volunteer, and go ahead and sign up. One of the biggest mistakes well-meaning citizens make during hurricane evacuations is waiting until the thick of the disaster to offer help and supplies. A mass evacuation requires enormous planning, and emergency workers are dealing with a multitude of problems. They will not have time to take your donated disaster supplies and stock and distribute them right in the middle of an event. Unless there is an official request for more emergency rations, don’t get in the way by being helpful at the last minute because it isn’t helpful at all. Make the volunteer commitment now, and then follow through with your commitment if you’re needed. If you want to donate supplies, FEMA has great lists of supplies that are needed during a disaster. Along with food and fuel, medical supplies are often needed by relief organizations. These are things that can be purchased and donated long in advance of the hurricane. If you want to stay prepared to help out, or you simply want to protect yourself during a hurricane mass evacuation, you’ll find the most accurate hurricane tracking at NOAA’s website. After Katrina, Rita and Ike, the people of the Gulf Coast learned that mass evacuations are extremely tiring for both the evacuating communities and the host towns.