Middlesex United Way: Preparing for hurricane season

While summer is known for bringing barbecues, beach days and picnics, it unfortunately also tends to bring heat waves and hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and the greatest risk for Connecticut is usually from mid-August to mid-October.

Fortunately for us, this means families still have time to develop an emergency supply kit and family plan. The 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week health and human services hotline, 2-1-1, will not only help those who contact with referrals, but will also assist in natural disasters.

United Way 2-1-1 is a gateway to services related to emergency/disaster response and recovery, as well as a statewide resource for emergency-related information collection and dissemination. In the event of a storm emergency, visit 211ct.orgor dial 2-1-1 from anywhere in the state for up-to-date information about emergency shelters and storm relief resources in your community. The need for 2-1-1 services often increases dramatically during and following these natural disasters.

 

To better prepare yourself, every family should create some sort of emergency family plan. It is recommended that family members keep a card with them listing vital contact information for family doctors, insurance companies and schools. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-town contact, as they may not be impacted by the storm and will have better means of communication with potentially separated family members.

A disaster kit should also be assembled and stored for every member of the family, and do not forget about the pets. One gallon of water per person per day, for at least three days, is necessary for both drinking and sanitation. Keep at least three days of nonperishable food as well, and ensure you also have at least one can opener if you are storing canned foods.

 

When disaster does strike, the Middlesex United Way is committed to helping keep vital programs and operations up and running, as shutting down is not an option for many organizations in our area. After Hurricane Sandy, Middlesex United Way, along with other United Ways, established The United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

We helped Adelbrook Behavioral and Developmental Services receive funding to replace a crucial part of a generator that will, in the event of another power outage, allow the organization to retain power in their dining and residential halls, helping to keep the children in the program safe.

We also provided a 20kW prepackaged generator to New England Residential Services, an association that supports 42 adults and children living in group homes who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. This generator allows them to accommodate their residents in the event of a power outage, and would even allow residents from other group homes a temporary place to reside in the case of an emergency.

We just want to take a moment to remind everyone how critical it is to not only keep yourselves safe this storm season, but to not forget about others who could be in serious danger as well. Please exercise caution in the event of a storm, and familiarize yourself with national and local recommendations for shelter and survival in the event of a storm.

If disaster does hit, please do not hesitate to contact 2-1-1, and we will work toward helping everyone recover together.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.