Native New Orleanian Sophia Stampley knows about storms. She’s lived through a few. This hurricane season, which starts June 1, she’s worried about flooding, where she will stay if a hurricane hits New Orleans and if her insurance will cover any damage.
Those are the kinds of concerns that prompted TrainingGrounds, a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization, to host one of the city’s first hurricane preparedness resource events. Vendors ranged from city agencies and health and human services groups to grassroots and civic organizations.
“This season stresses everyone out,” said Melanie Richardson, co-founder of TrainingGrounds, which assists families and professionals in the New Orleans area with “creating rich learning experiences for children and positive adult-child interactions.” “But you can prepare for it. You have some control over the events that happen.”
That was also the theme from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and city agencies during the annual pre-hurricane season news conference on Wednesday.
“We are prepared,” Cantrell said. “But it only takes one storm to make it an event. Risk is inherent and can’t be eliminated.”
Collin Arnold, director of the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said residents should review their hurricane plans, gather supplies if you plan to hunker down or know evacuation routes if you plan to leave the city. Arnold noted that residents should review their flood insurance policies and text NOLAREADY to 77295 to get text alerts about bad weather. Also, “get to know your neighbors,” he said.
Because of climate change leading to higher temperatures in the Gulf, storms can intensify more quickly. And depending on the track of a storm and how quickly it strengthens, local governments may not have enough time to call for a mandatory evacuation and implement contraflow, Arnold said.
“Now more than ever, folks need to have a plan,” Arnold said. “Do not rely on contraflow as your trigger to evacuate.”
Cantrell noted that the city is working with more than 55 local, state and federal agencies this hurricane season to make sure that residents, especially elderly and vulnerable populations, have what they need to be safe.
The media, Richardson said, need to normalize being prepared, and not make it such a frightful time.
“We should know evacuation routes and where you can find shelter,” Richardson said. “If we wait until we need those things, then we go into a panic.”
The goal of Verite’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide is to help you prepare for hurricane season and not panic or be stressed out when a storm hits. Our guide will provide you with information and resources to help you make a plan. Go to the guide here.
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