International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Hurricane Irene: Helping refugees prepare

As Hurricane Irene makes its way up the East Coast of the United States, several cities where the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aids resettled refugees sit right in the projected path of the storm. We’re battening down the hatches in these offices and helping refugees and IRC staff prepare.

In New York City, for example, we’re advising all of the refugees we assist to shop for supplies today and tomorrow morning to make sure they have enough food and water for the weekend, when Irene is forecast to hit our area.  We are also advising them to stay indoors during the storm and to listen for updates coming in through radio and TV.  For those with internet access, we are pointing them to the NYC Office of Emergency Management website, which has information in several languages.  In case the storm leaves power outages and heavy transit delays in its wake, we have canceled classes and appointments for Monday to avoid anyone being stuck on the subway.

A direct hit by a major tropical storm is a rare event in New York, but in Miami our IRC colleagues are hurricane veterans. Part of their job is to help recently arrived refugees get to know their new community — and that includes preparing them for the wild weather of Florida’s hurricane season. Here are a few hurricane preparedness tips from their storm safety handout:

Important things to have in mind when we prepare for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm 

  • Leave low lying areas.
  • Protect windows with plywood boards, or storm shutters.
  • Secure outside objects.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water.
  • Have several days' supply of food and water for each family member.
  • If called to evacuate, do so immediately.

Before the Storm:

  • Be ready to put your plan and preparation into action.
  • Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, television or the internet.
  • Have house boarded up, or have storm shutters in place.
  • Have plenty of food and water.
  • Make sure all your tools, supplies, and first aid kit available for use (radio with batteries)
  • Have a secure room available

During the Storm: 

  • Stay in secure room.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Do not use the phone, or candles.
  • Monitor Weather and Civil Service Bulletins on either regular or NOAA radio.
  • Have supplies on hand.
  • Remain indoors when the eye moves over your area because the storm will resume shortly.

After the Storm:

  • Make sure that all is definitely clear outside, and the storm has completely passed before going out.
  • Report downed power lines, and stay away from them.
  • Use stored water and food.
  • Be patient. Things will take a while before they get back to normal.

It’s good advice for all.  Be safe, everyone!

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