Hurricane Preparedness Week, as proclaimed by Governor Charlie Baker, runs through July 16. All week, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will engage local communities across Massachusetts to highlight the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes, and encourage residents to take steps to prepare. As part of MEMA’s commitment to diversity and equity in emergency planning, this year’s campaign will include information to equip those living with disabilities and specific medical needs.
“Hurricane Preparedness Week is an annual reminder of the hazards that the Commonwealth faces and how residents can prepare during hurricane season,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “While it’s been 31 years since Hurricane Bob made landfall in New England, hurricanes and tropical storms remain a threat to Massachusetts and we ask residents to learn if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone, develop an emergency plan, build an emergency kit, and stay informed.”
For the 2022 hurricane season, MEMA has continued its longstanding commitment to deepen local, state, federal, and private sector partnerships. The Agency has convened meetings to discuss logistics, operational plans, and capabilities; facilitated a series of tabletop exercises; and participated in a large tabletop exercise with Emergency Support Function (ESF) partners and the National Weather Service. Additionally, MEMA Acting Director Dawn Brantley serves as Co-Chair of the National Emergency Management Association Diversity and Equity Committee which focuses on identifying opportunities to advance diversity and inclusion in the workforce; and ensures equity and accessibility of emergency management policies and programs. While MEMA and its partners are taking steps to ensure the Commonwealth is ready, preparedness is a shared responsibility that all should take part in.
“While MEMA continues to prepare for disasters, we can’t do it alone – preparedness is a whole community responsibility and we want everyone to be prepared for the challenges and impacts they may face in an emergency,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Acting Director Dawn Brantley. “I urge residents with disabilities and medical needs to take steps to prepare for their circumstances by customizing their emergency plans, gathering necessary supplies and planning with their support network who may be able to assist during a disaster. For those individuals, I want to assure you that MEMA takes accessibility of emergency programs and services very seriously and we work year-round to ensure that we are prepared to support all individuals equally and equitably before, during, and after disasters.”
Plan for Your Unique Needs
Every person and family may have different needs in an emergency. Individuals with disabilities or medical needs may to take extra steps to prepare:
• If you receive medical treatment or home health care services, work with your medical provider to determine how to maintain care and service if you are unable to leave your home or have to evacuate.
• If you live in an area that may flood and may need an accessible transportation option to evacuate, plan with family, neighbors, and friends who may assist you. Contact local public safety officials to make them aware of your needs.
• If your medical equipment uses electricity, talk to health care providers, your utility company & your personal support network for options during a power outage.
• Ensure that your emergency kit has all the items you and your family would need including medications, spare eyeglasses, medical equipment and supplies, and children’s items such as diapers and formula.
Ways to Prepare
Know Your Zone – In Massachusetts, there are three designated hurricane evacuation zones – Zone A, Zone B, and Zone C, for coastal areas of the state at risk for storm surge flooding during hurricanes. Visit MEMA’s interactive hurricane evacuation zone map to learn if you live or work in a hurricane evacuation zone:www.mass.gov/knowyourzone.
Make an Emergency Plan – Talk to your family and create an emergency plan of how your family would evacuate, shelter in place, and stay in touch. Consider children, seniors, individuals with disabilities and medical needs, and pets in your emergency plans. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/make-a-family-emergency-plan
Build an Emergency Kit – Build an emergency kit that includes all the items your household would need for three to five days without power. Every emergency kit should include bottled water, food, a flashlight, a radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, and personal & hygiene items. Kits should also be customized for any additional items your family would need given medical conditions, pets, and other considerations: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/build-an-emergency-kit.
Stay Informed – Individuals should have several ways to receiving emergency alerts. Residents are urged to sign up for their community’s local notification systems. Other ways to receive alerts and information include the Emergency Alert System, Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, and social and traditional news media. The Commonwealth’s 2-1-1 hotline is available 24×7 for non-emergency assistance and is available with translation in 150+ languages and can be accessed via video relay services. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/be-informed-and-receive-emergency-alerts
For more information, including interactive evacuation zone maps, a social media toolkit, flyers, preparedness tips, videos and more, visit MEMA’s Hurricane Season Preparedness webpage.
MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA’s staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – individuals, families, non-profits and businesses – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA and Emergency Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema.