Published Wednesday, May 31, 2023
As we do annually, our team is once again organizing and preparing for another hurricane season. The Osceola Council on Aging, in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Osceola County (DOH-Osceola) and the Office of Emergency Management, hosted our annual Hurricane Season Shelter Training for all employees to be prepared for if, or when, a hurricane strikes this season.
The OCOA has a system-wide hurricane plan in place, which includes staffing assignments, facility preparation, and post-storm support, including Case Management and Nutrition Departments which work to ensure all seniors and existing clients are prepared.
As in previous years, the Council partners in hosting countywide initiatives to help community residents with special needs, or those who need extra support. The Osceola County Office of Emergency Management, DOH-Osceola and the OCOA coordinate to provide special needs shelters for those requiring clinical care assistance such as oxygen, and individuals who are electricity dependent. Registration is always required for these designated shelters. For advanced information, or online registration can be completed at snr. flheathresponse.com, or phone 407-742-9001.
“All residents are encouraged to develop plans which include sheltering safely with family or friends, in a safe structure, outside an evacuation area. DOHOsceola is committed to collaborating with our partners at OCOA and the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management to support residents who need special assistance. Residents with special needs are encouraged to register now to support our county’s disaster planning efforts,” said Vianca McCluskey, DOH Osceola Administrator.
As we know, the 2022 Hurricane Season was sadly eventful for Florida, with Hurricanes Ian, Nicole, and Fiona bringing extensive damage to Florida’s coast and Puerto Rico, and why it is so important to prepare accordingly.
The first step of action for everyone is to be informed of potential threats: Sign-up for our Alert Osceola mass notification system at Alertosceola.org or by texting ‘alertosceola’ to 888777. This notification is used for major emergencies, boil water notices, and other public safety alerts.
In addition, the Florida Division of Emergency Management also hosts a website, FloridaDisaster.org, which lists additional action items:
- Be prepared with at least 5 days of food, water, and medications.
- Assemble a disaster supply kit including copies of important documents, flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, cell phone chargers and first aid kit.
- Remember any special need items for infants, small children, elderly and or disabled family members, while maintaining a list of important contact numbers.
- Hit the ATM for cash in advance of the storm and keep your vehicle full of gas.
- Remember, pet care items including food, water, cages, leashes and/ or medication.
- Secure all loose items around the home including windows.
According to FloridaDisaster.org, the most important precaution to reduce damage to our home is to protect the areas where wind can enter. Thus, it is important to b so wind and debris cannot tear large openings. Those openings include the roof, large windows, both garage and entrance doors.
Finally, it is important to know if you live in an evacuation zone (a low-lying, flood prone area). During a storm with exponential rainfall, these areas will often be evacuated. For more information on flood preparedness go to flood. osceola.org.
If you find yourself or a family member in need of evacuating prior to a storm but are not considered to fall into the special needs category, the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management offices, in partnership with Osceola County Animal Services, and the School District of Osceola County offers pet friendly sheltering. However, it is important to note that only certain shelter facilities are designated as pet friendly. As with all shelters, specific locations are announced prior to any storm through the county’s website, at osceola.org and local media outlets.
We certainly hope Central Florida does not have an eventful hurricane season this year. Nevertheless, preparation is always key. So, let’s reduce the annual hurricane season anxiety by taking time to prepare, following advice of the experts, and organizing ‘to-do’ checklists. With that, we can sit back and relax, knowing we can better manage anything Hurricane Season 2023 may bring our way.
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