For those of you who attended our Disaster Preparedness Open House this past weekend, you may have the words “MAKE A PLAN” ringing in your ears while you are trying to fall asleep at night (I know I do… I’m thinking of maybe burying some cat food). For those of you who weren’t able to attend, or who missed out on the motivating talk by esteemed disaster responder Connie Brooks, one point I took away is that those of us in the Alachua area do not need to be prepared for the eventual hurricane, but also for the less obvious disasters: chemical spills, nuclear fallout, and “host community” effect when disasters occur nearby (especially south of) us. This means our plan must be adaptable, and we need to have more than one to be truly prepared (I think I’ll mail cat food to Europe too, going hungry scares me).
To accomplish this level of preparedness, it is important to make two plans – one for evacuation, and one for sticking it out at home. First, figure out which of these would be your best plan A. Start thinking of friends in your community, and away from home, that you can rely on to help house you, your animals, and your precious information. Make a list of their addresses and phone numbers, and begin to collect information that you would want them to have copies of. Based on your relationship with these contacts, you may want to send not only copies of tax, deed, and insurance information, birth and marriage certificates, and social security cards, but also copies of your medical records, your pet’s medical records, and photos of you with your pets. Have your method of identification, for ALL of your pets, decided on and prepared. As Connie informed us, 99% of horses in Louisiana were returned to their owners after Hurricane Katrina (as it is required by the state to microchip), so take advantage of Springhill’s hurricane-season special on microchips! Have two current copies of your Coggins, with photos of your horses, sealed in a Ziploc bag. Attach one bag to your horse, and leave the other in your barn or home, and you may want a third to send to that relative in Wisconsin. Use highly-visible methods of ID as well – fetlock bands, grease pens, or even body clipped phone numbers. The ideal location is a large, treeless field with white tape fencing and access to multiple backup water sources, NOT a barn (as a cat, I will be in a carrier, ready to evacuate if needed).
For your evacuation plan, make sure you keep up with trailer maintenance, and have more than one location you can haul to, in case of an impact area larger than you may expect. Be prepared for fuel, food, and water shortages (not just for you, think of your pets too!). Have your kits, first aid and emergency, stocked and ready, as you would at home. Consider ways you could carry drums of water for your animals in your trailer, and check out our blog on trailer safety and maintenance. Have a place that can accommodate you and your animals – do not rely on the government to take care of you. Most importantly, if it is less than 72 hours to impact, DO NOT EVACUATE. Refer to your stay home plan. It is key to have these plans written down and readily accessible in an emergency!
Thanks for visiting my counter, may your litter box always be clean and your food bowl full! Safe sailing, Tony