Operation Hurricane Prepare is designed so that individuals, organizations and community groups can be prepared in the event of this natural disaster. This project guide is for organizers but could easily be adapted to help individuals prepare as well.
Hurricanes are notable for their scale, unpredictability or both. A hurricane can leave devastation in its wake, with impact that is often most severe for people who failed to plan ahead. You probably have friends, family and neighbors who have no plans for how to act when a hurricane is imminent, or how to respond after one has struck.
Note: These activities are presented as steps, but you can choose to do one, some or all, in any order. You can also either organize a group or simply help one neighbor or friend with these ways to prepare. Your efforts, big or small, could save lives.
GETTING READY, STEP BY STEP
Step 1: SECURE VITAL DOCUMENTS
A hurricane can erase the vital documents and records of our lives instantly. Organize a group effort to help people in your community have copies of all their important documents available in one place. When you set up a group document duplication event, community members can meet in one central location to make copies quickly and easily. This activity is suitable for business sponsorship, so consider this as you make your plans.
Set up your system to ensure that people can keep track of their materials. Exercise vigilance so documents are not lost, misplaced or left unprotected.
Get the word out:
To invite neighbors and community members, send out an invitation at least 3 weeks prior to the event. A sample invitation is below to help get you started:
JOIN US AT THE GROUP DOCUMENT PHOTOCOPYING EVENT!
Learn how to take the first step in being prepared for a hurricane by securing important documents and identifying other tools to help get your life back in order after an emergency. Bring all your important documents, and we’ll help you make copies of them. To help someone else, bring a friend along!
The members of (group) are invited to a Document Photocopying Event on (date). (Consider whether or not an RSVP should be required, especially if anticipating high attendance or if limited space is available for your event.) Contact (project organizer name) at (phone, email).
What you’ll need for the event:
- Vital Document Checklist (in this kit) for advance distribution
- A central meeting location — community center, church, local business – with a high-volume copier
- A date, preferably a weekend day
- Reams of copy paper to accommodate your group’s size. Consider asking a business for sponsorship and donation of materials.
- Gallon-size, plastic zip-close bags to act as a weatherproof tote
- Check-in desk or greeting table/chairs
- Copies of all Operation Hurricane Prepare checklists and Basic Tips for Hurricane Planning for attendees (see below)
- A small team of volunteers, who can greet participants, help them with document copying, keep lines moving and be vigilant about document security. People will be justifiably concerned about their documents.
Step 2: PREPARE BASIC EMERGENCY SUPPLY KITS
Emergency supply kits should have the essentials to meet someone’s basic needs for a few days. Many people have these items in their homes but have not organized them into a kit. Your team can help people gather supplies into a kit, or even purchase items (possibly with donated funds) and assemble kits to be distributed in the community.
Ideas to get started:
- Distribute the Basic Emergency Supply Kit Checklist (in this kit) to neighbors and friends so they can assemble their own kits, or at least check to see which items they already have.
- Identify community members who might need assistance and assemble their kit from items they already have in their homes. Provide a donated bucket or other container for central storage and consider purchasing any missing items for them to ensure that their kit is adequately stocked.
- Make copies of all of the Operation Hurricane Prepare Checklists to distribute as well.
If you choose to buy items for people’s kits:
- Determine where you will get funds: From your group’s dues or funds? Corporate sponsorship? Fundraiser? Donations? Depending on the scope of your effort you may want to use a combination of funding sources. If you raise more money than you need you can always donate the extra cash to a disaster relief organization.
- Decide if your group could benefit from purchasing the basic emergency supplies in bulk.
Step 3: DEVELOP AN EVACUATION PLAN
Ensure that ALL members of the community have a plan. Create an evacuation plan that considers older friends and neighbors and their specific needs.
An evacuation plan provides a sense of control during an emergency, which can be a chaotic and frightening time. Learn how to create an evacuation plan by inviting a local official or expert on the subject to come speak to your group. Or think local - and lead an evacuation planning event for your own street, neighborhood or subdivision.
- Plan a date and place to meet (home, local community center, church, school, etc.).
- Invite an emergency response expert to speak to your group. Also consider connecting with your local Citizen Corps Council and/or Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Find local Citizen Corps contacts at http://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps/find-your-nearest-council
- Ask your speaker if he/she has any materials (ex. documents or DVDs) to hand out.
- If a speaker is unavailable, you can download training tools and handouts about a range of emergency preparedness topics, including evacuation, (and take an online training) through FEMA at http://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=is-909.
- Secure a computer and projector setup if needed for showing maps or highlighting evacuation routes.
- “Test drive” your presentation on that equipment before presenting live.
- Make copies of all Operation Hurricane Prepare Checklists and Basic Tips for distribution.
At the Event
- Share Operation Hurricane Prepare”Checklists and Basic Tips for Hurricane Planning, and encourage distribution to friends and neighbors who did not attend.
- Lead the group discussion on ways to help neighbors, should your community be evacuated, especially those living alone or who may have limitations.
Step 4: DISTRIBUTE INFORMATION
To help protect community members during and after a disaster, make copies of the Hurricane Prepare Checklists that are best suited for your group, distribute them and ask people to commit to helping someone else get prepared.
Checklists and Tip Sheets include:
- Vital Document Checklist
- Basic Emergency Supply Kit Checklist
- Evacuation Plan Checklists
- Basic Tips for Emergency Planning
- Getting Back on Track After an Emergency
If your neighborhood has an email listserv, you can also send documents and links electronically. Include a link to http://www.ready.gov/.
Basic Tips for Hurricane Planning
The following provides some general tips for staying safe and fortifying your home. To be completely prepared, visit www.ready.gov to view more thorough tip lists that give special instructions about the disasters that are likely to happen in your area.
Ahead of Time
- Inventory the contents of your home and take photos or videos of both the exterior and interior. Be sure to record contents of closets, cabinets and drawers. Keep copies in a safe, separate location if possible.
- Arrange with family or neighbors to have a contact number or location where you can check in to report on your safety or new whereabouts.*
- Gather your vital documents and records and make duplicate copies to be stored in a weatherproof container.*
- Many communities provide email and text-message alerts and warnings; visit your city or county website to find out what's available and how to sign up.
Just Before and During a Hurricane
- Close and lock all windows and doors.
- Stay tuned to local news stations via battery-operated radio and be prepared to evacuate if ordered.
- Cover windows and doors with shutters or plywood if high winds are expected.
- Move electronics or valuable objects away from windows and wrap in plastic garbage bags to keep dry.
- Have a supply of bottled water on hand; fill sinks and bathtubs with water to use for bathing, washing clothes or flushing the toilet.
- Shut off water at the main valve and electricity at the main fuse or breaker box.
- Bring indoors outdoor objects that may fly around, such as trash cans and patio furniture.
Getting Back on Track After a Hurricane or Disaster
- Understand exactly what your insurance company covers in the event of a disaster.
- Do not endorse and cash any payment from an insurance company that says “final” unless you are sure it is an adequate payment under your policy’s coverage.
- Call your mortgage company to see how reimbursements from your home insurance company will be handled.
- Consider mediation if you are not satisfied with negotiations with your insurance company. In many areas, there is a free public service offered by your state’s insurance commissioner.
- Consult an attorney; local bar associations working with FEMA often set up volunteer attorney sites.
Fraud and Scams
- Don’t pay cash to a contractor for home repairs and never give your credit card number unless you are paying the bill with it.
- Be sure you have a signed contract detailing the work you want to have done and don’t make a final payment until the work has been done to your satisfaction.
- Make sure that any contractors, plumbers, electricians or roofers are bonded, licensed or registered in your state. You can check their license status with your state or Better Business Bureau.
- Try to get several bids before agreeing to any work; a one-third down payment is considered appropriate.
- Beware of home repair loan brokers who guarantee you a loan if you first pay a fee.
- If you suspect you have been taken advantage of, call your state attorney general’s office.
Important Websites and Phone Numbers to Have on Hand: