Lessons from Hurricane Harvey

It doesn’t seem possible that only a few weeks ago we were bracing for Hurricane Harvey and now we are all holding our breath for the people of Florida as they recover from Irma. All I can think about is how thankful and blessed we are that our homes and all of our clients’ homes were spared from flooding and power outages. We are praying for everyone in Florida.

  1. Advanced Preparation is Crucial

Every year, we take a hard look at our Emergency Preparedness Program and make changes that we think will be beneficial. Full disclosure – it is not one of my favorite activities. It involves a lot of paperwork and repetitive reports, but nevertheless, we spend a good amount of time trying to foresee potential emergencies and how we can prepare.  A large part of our plan focuses on hurricane readiness.  When hurricane season starts, we send a letter to all our clients that lays out our plans for a storm we hope will never come. We make sure that we have all the supplies that are on our Shelter in Place list as well as on our Evacuation list. To borrow a line from Scarlett O’Hara, “As God is my witness, I will never complain about this annual exercise again.”  As you know, Harvey became a hurricane almost overnight. We immediately contacted our caregivers, and it was such a relief that we already had all necessary supplies at each home. Our wonderful caregivers had even already tested batteries and prepared the flashlights. Our emergency planning really paid off.

  1. Get Plenty of Medications

Our next step was making sure that we had at least two-weeks supply of our clients’ medications. Fortunately, we work with very responsive doctors, nurses and pharmacies, and we were able to have all medications at every home within 24 hours. We will be changing our policy to make sure we have 3-weeks supply on hand. While we have not had any problems, we have heard that some doctors’ offices and pharmacies flooded and are still not back in operation. As I said before, we were blessed.

  1. Have the Most Wonderful Caregivers in the World

A lesson we learned after Hurricane Ike was that our caregivers should be prepared to stay with our clients for the duration of the hurricane event as their relief caregiver may not be able to get to them right away.  We began contacting our caregivers to see which caregivers would be able to stay with our clients for the duration of the storm.  As I have mentioned before, we have the most wonderful caregivers, so it was no surprise that every one of our caregivers volunteered to stay with their client.  They all came to work with their packed “go bags” in case wind or flooding prevented the next shift from arriving.  As it turned out, most of the caregivers that worked Saturday night ended up staying with their client.  Some of them stayed for 36 hours while some clients had caregivers that stayed for 4 full days. We checked in with them frequently throughout these days, and never once did we hear any complaints. In fact, quite the opposite.  The caregivers and clients were having a blast.  Movie marathons, card games, balloon volleyball, and, yes, maybe eating more snack foods than usual!  Our caregivers are amazing. They made sure our clients felt safe and loved.

Hurricane Harvey was stressful and nerve-racking for sure, but having a hurricane plan in place, definitely made things easier. Click on our Shelter in Place list and our Evacuation list to print your copy of these valuable planning tools.