Hurricane Harvey - preparing for a disaster

It’s been hard to watch the news this week and not feel absolutely at a loss over the devastation Hurricane Harvey has caused in Texas. Just seeing all the images of rain, water and flooding have made me feel water logged, I can hardly imagine what it’s been like to live through this epic storm. 

While hurricanes aren’t big in Pennsylvania, it can happen. Watching so many families struggle to get to safety has made me ask myself am I prepared in the event of a catastrophe? My house is just yards away from a creek. There’s no doubt that should we ever experience a serious rainfall, we would be flooded. I’ve had water in my basement more than once and thankfully it was due to having old windows that leaked. I’ve since replaced the windows and haven’t had any issues since. 


My husband has always been one to think ahead and prepare for worst case scenarios. Which is probably a good thing since I tend to bury my head in the sand and believe nothing bad will happen! So what can you do to be prepared in the event of a disaster?

The first thing is to create a plan. Every member in the family should be on board with this. If you need to evacuate, where will you go? If you can’t get home, where will you meet? How will you be in touch? Who should be the contact person outside of the family in case you can’t reach one another. If you’re in your house and need to get out, what are the best ways to escape? Plan from each room and every level in your home. Do you need to buy an escape ladder for a second and third story escape? Where will it be stored? 

It’s also important to have a disaster kit ready with items you might need in case of an emergency. Included in this kit should be water, non-perishable food, a battery or hand crank radio, a flashlight with batteries, first aid kit, can opener to open food, blankets and towels. We have a kit ready in our basement that also has dog food, toilet paper, an extra pair of shoes and a change of clothes. Every year we go through it to make sure nothing has spoiled and replace what no longer is good. 

We’ve learned so much since Hurricane Katrina and it is now a federal law that pets be accommodated in plans for evacuating residents facing disaster. However, many pets have been left at shelters while families escape the rising waters. Others have been separated and some animals like livestock are too hard to move. 

If you want to help the animals who’ve been affected by Hurricane Harvey, possibly the best way is to open your home to fostering a pet until he or she can be reunited with their family. Next would be monetary donations to local animal shelters including the Houston SPCA and SPCA of Texas as well as the Humane Society of the United States. If you want to donate tangible items such as pet food, kitty litter, crates and so on, it’s best to contact the shelters to find out what is needed before sending any supplies.

While I hope never to experience a disaster, I know that I am as prepared as I can be. And one day I may be grateful for that. 


Hurricane Harvey - Preparing for a disaster