The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is underway. Stay safe and prepare with these tips.

Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Hurricane Sally was a stark reminder of the oft-repeated “the first 72 are upon you” campaign that precedes any hurricane season.

With a power outage in much of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, credit card machines were not working, stores were closed, and many gas pumps could not operate.

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Those who ignored the warning to be equipped with essential resources to cover the first three days after a hurricane before first responders could enter neighborhoods were likely left in the dark with food spoiled and no access to more.

For many families in the Pensacola area who struggle to make ends meet every day, it’s not about ignoring the warnings to prepare, the cost of these “just in case” supplies is simply out. range.

“These people come face to face with just surviving – they get by with what they have,” said Sylvia Tisdale, pastor and director of the Epps Christian Center. “They are disproportionately affected and after serving in the poorest area of ​​Escambia County, it is difficult to care for our vulnerable people during hurricane season, especially the elderly and children.”

Tisdale has been serving food, providing resources, and offering words of faith and hope to low-income communities in the Pensacola area for 15 years at a food distribution center and soup kitchen.

She sees a lot of people every day who are in what she describes as the ultimate “survival mode” and who face an entirely different reality when hurricane season arrives each year.

Without access to proper transportation and resources, community organizations in Pensacola and Christian centers like Tisdale’s are calling on Pensacola officials to set aside funds and educate these low-income communities to help them prepare for the hurricane before the storm hits.


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As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, low-income communities and the inaccessibility of survival resources in Pensacola are “petrified” for what awaits them in the next six months.

At a minimum, the American Red Cross suggests a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for the evacuation and a two-week supply for the house with one gallon of water per person per day, a flashlight. , battery-powered radio, extra batteries, deluxe family first aid kit, multi-tool, personal hygiene and hygiene items, cell phone with chargers, extra cash and blanket. emergency.

In total, these hurricane survival kits can cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 500, according to the American Red Cross. This does not include the extra money needed to operate in a society facing a widespread power outage, which is common in Pensacola and the surrounding areas.

Ellison Bennett, a Pensacola justice, human and civil rights advocate, said many people in low-income communities cannot afford to help themselves and this struggle is leading to a decline in mental health.

“You know, I keep telling everyone: city, county, state and federal government, that mental health is such a big part of low income. Many people need the medical care they deserve, especially during hurricanes. when you feel like there is no more hope, ”Bennett said.

Joshua Davis grew up in a low-income family that struggled to prepare for hurricanes and their aftermath. The man from Pensacola, 29, was also homeless for a time while battling an alcohol addiction, and now has a new asphalt job he received from founder Caleb Houston of There Is Hope Rehabilitation Living Facility.

“There should be government funding because a lot of our taxpayer’s money just disappears – we need a warehouse somewhere in the community of Pensacola filled with resources like food, water, tents and blankets for the people who really need it before a hurricane hits. It must be easier for us – we need more education to give us the tools we don’t have Davis said.

Davis is worried about the upcoming hurricane season and what he would do if he wasn’t in a safe place with basic necessities. However, he is grateful to community advocates like Houston who encourage both action and awareness in natural disasters.

Houston helps low-income and homeless communities, providing them with support systems and resources for another chance at life.

“Some people just don’t have the extra income to buy extra batteries and flashlights and food because they’re pretty much, you know, trying to survive on what they have. Spend $ 300. plus it’s really, really hard for some who are struggling to do it, ”said Houston.

There Is Hope has regularly prepared resources for the season with 200 cases of water, plenty of snacks and food, batteries and flashlights.

Houston passionately encourages other organizations to do the same and take the initiative as long as they can to prepare for the first hurricane.

The Tisdale center serves around 400 families with boxes of food such as produce, milk and fresh vegetables, and everyone is welcome to walk through their doors which never close, not in the event of a pandemic or hurricane. .

But now, Tisdale said, they are working with day-to-day operations, fighting to keep resources readily available for these vulnerable communities.

Global food prices rose for the 12th consecutive month in May, up nearly 40% year-on-year, according to the United Nations food price index. Today, average prices are at their highest level in nearly a decade.

“The city needs to start setting aside funds and paying more attention to hurricane preparedness and the first 72 hours,” Tisdale said. “We have to prepare ahead of time and not after the storm starts so that these people are ready when the rain and the winds start to come. We have to encourage people to try to put things in place, you know, with places to go and people to help out – maybe things wouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been in years. “

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