BOCA RATON, Fla. — As Tropical Storm Dorian bears down on the Caribbean, it’s still unknown exactly what the impacts here in Florida will be.
However, several local groups are still taking this storm seriously.
Right now, the American Red Cross chapter for Palm Beach County and Martin County is taking inventory of their disaster supplies to make sure they’re prepared.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry. Now is the time to make sure you have a plan, you have a kit, you’re prepared. If you live in an evacuation zone, know where the shelters are,” said Jennifer Durrant, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter.
Durrant said in your hurricane kit, you need at least a three day supply of water and non-perishable food.
“Flashlight, battery operated radio, and a plan of what you will do. Will you shelter in place or evacuate?” she said.
If you evacuate, Durrant stressed for people to consider evacuating inland instead of driving long distances and clogging up the routes.
“If you do evacuate, you don’t need to go hundreds of miles away. Free up the roads and shelter at a friend or family members house," she said.
She said they’ll know late Wednesday or early Thursday when crews will be positioned ahead of the storm.
“We will really keep an eye on where our resources are most needed,” Durrant said.
Checking on seniors
Meanwhile, the Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton has been preparing all summer since hurricane season started with a relatively new storm team program.
“What we found out after Hurricane Irma is no electricity for several days, no refrigeration. Those taking medications that needed to be refrigerated, what happened?" said said Danielle Hartman, CEO and president of JFS. "So it's really a matter of crisis management."
In the program, volunteers identify seniors who are living alone and may require a special needs shelter in the event of a hurricane.
"Have a plan. A safety plan. And that's sort of where are role is," she said. "We are not a first responder agency but we do coordinate with them to make sure they know where they need to go when people need help. So we play a vital role in accessing and coordinating care."
JFS found 600 seniors within their agency who are considered vulnerable, primarily those who are living alone at home. An additional 200 seniors in the rest of the community signed up through a registration process.
“Many seniors living in our community have no family close by, so when something like Dorian is brought to light, the family is concerned, the senior is concerned,” said Hartman. "Especially for those people who are dialysis or have diabetes and need to take insulin. So priority number one is to determine if they should shelter in place or go to one operated by the county."
If there’s an evacuation, the Shirley & Baron Weisman Delray Community Center is turned into a special needs shelter to provide electricity for oxygen machines, air conditioning and refrigeration to keep medicine cold. There’s also a food pantry on site.
They require seniors to register ahead of evacuation, which you can do by clicking here. The services are provided free of charge.
Volunteers have also spent the summer delivering emergency kits ahead of the storm. The kits are filled with non-perishable food, flashlight, emergency phone numbers and a guide on how to prepare.
The volunteers also check on seniors after a storm to make sure everyone is safe.
There are at least 800 seniors registered for the storm program so far and JFS is in need of volunteers to join the storm team in assisting clients.
Click here for more information.
Preparing the pets
Some local animal shelters are also not taking any chances.
Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton is starting to stock up on drinking water, dry food and wet food for dogs and cats ahead of the storm.
They’re also encouraging people to also stock up on food for their pets. The shelter is even offering pet food to financially struggling families who require last minute help.
They also just finished construction on a FEMA approved hospital building on site, which is fully equipped for surgery, x-rays and any other animal needs.
The building is also prepared with kennels to shelter house pets in the event of a storm. If you live in an evacuation zone and can’t take your animals with you, Tri-County can take in pets and care for them.
Owners would need to provide medical records and bring the pet in a crate with food and medications.
“We’re running on a generator, god forbid anything was to happen in the area and we lost power so we're able to give our animals the medical care they need during the storm,” said administrative assistant Melissa Baum. “It’s just really important to be prepared for the animals, you don’t want to leave them behind at home or leave them in a bad situation. People may not be able to get to them for an extended period of time.”
The new building will be stocked with food, water and medicine for evacuated pets.
"We are prepared," said Baum. "We always tell people to think of their pets in addition to themselves."
The shelter also just took in over 30 dogs over the weekend ahead of the storm from Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria two years ago.
The dogs and puppies are getting medical care before they’ll be put up for adoption in the coming weeks.