“Where are we going to go?”
I remember sitting in my living room as my parents debated our options. It was September 2005, just months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana shoreline, sending thousands of evacuees into Houston. The local meteorologist had made his proclamation: my zip code was located in Evacuation Zone B, meaning it was recommended we evacuate in the event of a Level 3 Hurricane. At the time, Rita was projected to well-surpass that rating. I will never forget the fear I felt in the pit of my stomach as I helped my family move our furniture, valuable documents, and photo albums onto the second floor of our home. I was instructed to pack some clothes and whatever treasured items would fit into my small suitcase. We packed our bags, along with an estimated 3.7 million of our neighbors throughout the Houston area and Texas Coast. In the end, though Rita ended up veering eastward and sparing my family home, many weren’t so lucky. While the process of evacuating was frightening and painful (it took us over 24 hours to make the drive from Houston to the home of a friend-of-a-friend in Dallas), we were fortunate to have the resources to make the trip.
The price of emergency preparedness is much more difficult for many of our society’s most vulnerable to bear. As the 2014 Hurricane season begins June 1st, it is important to consider how to ensure all segments of the population are adequately prepared.