I got a message from my daughter's mother concerning the safety of Tiffani, my youngest daughter, because of the approaching hurricane Irma. She's a resident of Florida and a nurse. And she is directly in the eye of the hurricane. Hurricane Irma is the 9th named storm of the 2017 hurricane season. After forming off the coast of Africa earlier this week, Irma strengthened rapidly into a hurricane Thursday morning and was forecasted to intensify into a "major hurricane" by Thursday night. And heading possibly to Florida as a category 5 hurricane by Sunday.
For those that do not know what a category 5 hurricane is, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale, to be classified as a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph (Category 1). The highest classification in the scale, Category 5, contains storms with sustained winds exceeding 156 mph (70 m/s; 136 kn; 251 km/h). Hurricane Irma is currently a Category 5 storm with 225 mph wind gusts. Now that is scary.
Irma follows Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated communities along the South Texas and Southwest Louisiana coast over the last several days. The difference, hurricane Harvey crept up on us surprisingly. But Irma has given us plenty of time to prepare.
Natural disasters, like hurricane Irma, will adversely impact primarily Black and Brown Communities. Research suggests that cultural minority populations, specifically African Americans and Latinos, have higher risk of disaster exposure and are disproportionately affected by them (e.g., Fothergill et al. 1999; Hawkins et al. 2009; Perilla et al. 2002). Higher risk among minorities may be the result of lower levels of disaster education and preparedness (Eisenman et al. 2009), lower risk perception (Elliott and Pais 2006), lower likelihood of evacuation (Spence et al. 2007), lower socioeconomic status (Norris et al. 2002), and higher likelihood of residence in poorly constructed homes and hazardous areas (Fothergill et al. 1999).
African Americans and Latinos also are more likely to experience physical hardships and trauma during and after a disaster, including personal loss, damage to property, and delay in restoration of utility services, such as electricity and water, and other basic resources including food, shelter, and income (Fothergill et al. 1999; Perilla et al. 2002).
Therefore, If you live in an area near or below sea level, an evacuation plan is essential. During a storm surge — a swell of water that can reach upward of 20 feet for hundreds of miles of coastline — water can enter the home and block roads, making it difficult to get to dry land. You should know where your nearest evacuation center is — regardless of your home's elevation — and have a route mapped out should your local authorities issue an evacuation notice. Cell phones and other electronics should be charged and used sparingly.
Of course my daughter and I had a lengthy conversation about contingency plans and how she planned to get out of the area. Much to my concern, she was not leaving because she volunteered to help with potential patients that may come to the hospital as a result of the hurricane. Most likely the majority will be Black or Brown people. And I really do understand her decision to stay, I would have done the same, but I would not have wanted my own daughter to do such a thing. I wanted her out of there for safety. But she is my child, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
The good thing is, she did have my grandson evacuated out of town with her aunt to Atlanta Georgia. That's great, he is safe, in sha’ Allah (God willing). She also had all her important papers like birth certificates, insurance papers, and social security cards to sent with them. That's a great idea. But what about my daughter? As we talked on the phone I realize she was prepared for this emergency. She has a few days water supply, a change of clothes for a few days, and food already packed. I advised her that cell phone service maybe out and possibly consider a landline or using the internet to communicate. Also we made a plan that if I don't hear from her by the following Tuesday, I will be concerned and try to come down there from California. She understood but thought that her mother and I just worried over her too much. I know she is a big girl but I'm still her dad. So all you prayer warriors please pray for the residents of Florida and my daughter thank you.