ORLANDO, Fla. – Irisaida “Isa” Mendez, a locally hired media relations specialist who works out of FEMA’s branch recovery office in Miami, said her family was safe during Hurricane Irma because of preparation.
“We moved to Florida two years ago from Puerto Rico,” she said. “We have had experience with many hurricanes, so we are always prepared.”
When the Mendez couple bought their single-family home in Doral they made sure to document everything inside and out with videos and photographs. Although they do not live in a high-risk flood zone they bought flood and wind insurance.
Before the storm hit Sept. 10, 2017, other family members who live in a nearby area prone to flooding gathered at the house, which resembled a bunker, with hurricane shutters covering the many windows and sliding glass doors.
“We had a pajama party, with 14 people, two dogs and a cat,” Mendez said.
The family keeps a disaster kit in a closet under the stairs.
“Although we always have enough water and other supplies in our storage area for emergencies, we went shopping early before the storm came. We also keep disaster supplies in our vehicles.
“Basic preparation is ongoing, like buying the solar lamps and cell phone chargers,” Mendez said. “We check and maintain our hurricane shutters every six months.”
Their kitchen stove works on gas, which they refill every month. They bought a gas-powered generator and extra gas cans to keep the electric appliances running.
Mendez said their neighbors made no preparations for Irma’s impact.
“We lost power for three days,” she said. “The neighbors ran out of gas, so we shared ours with them.”
Mendez said her family always knows what to do when a storm is headed their way.
“If you’re prepared, you won’t be nervous. You won’t be running around trying to get ready just before the storm arrives.”
FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during and after disasters.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.