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And then there's Ida

Locals know the drill. When a storm approaches, you have two options, hunker down or evacuate. There is no one size fits all answer because we have different resources, obligations, and needs.

There are pros and cons with each decision. If you stay, there's the hurricane party! You prep the house, yard, stock up on foods that don't require electricity, purchase candles, batteries, water and wait. I have fond memories of eating ice cream for dinner, playing games by candlelight, and camping out in the living room together. As a child, the event is as fun or anxiety ridden as the adults in the house make it. Yes, there's the rain and wind, but that was tempered by the love and comfort from our parents, laughter with our cousins, and anticipation of an extra day or two off from school and work. From a parents perspective, there's so much MORE involved. Basic preparations include having provisions for 3-5 days. If you had a generator and enough gas and food for that duration, you still would have required assistance after this storm. No one expected the level of power outages we experienced.

Some people want to leave, but are unable for various reasons. Those who require a wheelchair for mobility or medical equipment and want to leave can have difficulty finding a ride. Some people don’t have cars. Some people have nowhere to go and/or no money. Some have numerous or large pets that aren't usually accepted at typical venues. That’s in addition to the ones who, by the time they were ready to leave, not necessarily through any fault of their own, it was just too late.

If you leave, you are not there to put up a tarp, pick up debris, or add sandbags. If the storm shifts and it was a 'false alarm' you may have used your emergency savings or vacation days. When your house or property is damaged, you are not there to salvage possessions or protect it from further damage.

This is the tip of the iceberg with questions people face when deciding whether or not to evacuate.

  1. Can you take time off from work?

  2. Do you have reliable transportation?

  3. Is there enough money for gas, extra food, and incidentals?

  4. If you have pets, can they go with you?

  5. How long do you plan to be away?

  6. Does the school have a plan?

  7. What are your housing plans- hotel, rent a house, stay with friends or family?

  8. How much do you prepare the house?

  9. What do you bring with you?

  10. Do parents, siblings, children, neighbors factor into the equation?

As hard as it is, do not assume or judge people for the difficult decision they made.

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