The say there is no furor like a women’s fury and Mother Nature has been showing frustration and power over this hurricane season. We are only up to the letter H and we have already seen Fay cry 26 inches of rain over Florida. I am not exactly sure if Fay had a boyfriend leave her or she just loved Florida so much and was having a tantrum every time Mother told her it was time to move on but she kept coming back like a 4 year old that was told to no more ice cream at an ice cream parlor. There is another storm on the way and the men are trying to flex their power sending out their third to bat Gustav. He is demonstrating to be a sturdy and tough storm. He is heading to the United States and there is warning for the Gulf States. I am praying that he turns away because Florida and Louisiana do not need the visits.
Since Katrina many in the AT field have tried to help people with disabilities and their families or guardians prepare for such weather emergencies. There is a wonderful site that was shared on the QIAT list serv this evening Disaster Preparedness and People with Complex Communication Needs . So many individuals with disabilities lost valuable equipment, service animals and tools during Katrina. It is often said that things can be replaced but you cannot replace a life. This statement is true but for a person with a disability their equipment is their lives. So if you have students, consumers, friends or family, please take a look at what was designed by a collaboration among the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC) Gulf Relief Committee, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC), and News-2-You, Inc.
Please remember to have your own preparedness kit for your family. I live on the Jersey shore and I can tell you that I wait with bated breath during the North ester storms or Hurricane season. We haven’t suffered from a hurricane in 10 or more years. So as I say we are living on borrowed time since we had to evacuate. With that thought in mind and knowing that weather is not the only thing that can make me leave our home I have done the following:
- A plan of where will we meet if we cannot reach other by cell phones.
- Cash to pay for hotel – gas and food for a week. I think of the “need a vacation fund”. Our family pulls our funds and creates a special account for these emergency moments.
- Make sure that I have a list of all the members of my immediate family with their most current picture.
- A list of all cell phone numbers of immediate family.
- Emergency contact cards for each person. This is often tricky because when we travel we carry emergency contact cards – we list a person that we are not traveling with. We have special contact people for when we are together.
- Our family had to list 2 people that we trusted with our important information. We have purposely picked 2 people that do not live in our state but we trust with our most precious information.
- A list of all medications that each member of the family is taking with their doctor’s names, refill numbers and any allergies that they may have to other medications.
- Copies of birth certificates, marriage license and insurance policies.
- I have an electronic copy of all medical reports and IEP files.
- Photos of our cars – the conditions they are in.
- Photos of our pets, pet records and shots.
- Copy of all credit cards with numbers to call to cancel or get further assistance.
- Copy of all banking information.
- Scanned family photos and copies of movies or videos stored on DVD’s and internet vault.
I am sure I have missed some things that we have. Now how we store this information.
We each have a set of the documents in a secured location. The electronic information is stored on encrypted jump drives. It is a lot of work to maintain them but it is worth the piece of mind.