September 6, 2017 — In less than a 16 hour period, 211 staff took more than double the average phone calls (750 compared to 300 in 24 hours) from people whom were feeling frightened and overwhelmed with the prospect of Hurricane Irma as they sought information or assistance. As of 12 midnight Palm Beach County had declared a State of Emergency. This in preparation of any widespread damage or devastation and to prevent loss of life that could result from severe weather or hurricane activity. With caller’s emotion running high, 211 staff have been calming and comforting, many whom are elderly and or isolated, feeling helpless and alone.
As the updates roll in, 211 has been sharing the information with callers. Questions about pets, shelter and sheltering requirements, and evacuation zones.
It is important that families and individuals do as much as they can to prepare. It takes time for emergency recovery teams to get in place- and for roadways to be made safe and accessible. Have food and water supplies on hand for several days- to accommodate each member of your family, including your pets (keep an eye on small children if you fill buckets and your bathtub.) Think about your medications…having cash on hand. Use -flashlights instead of candles -are a safer option. Remember to keep generator exhaust outside and away from open windows or airways if utilizing. If you are asked to evacuate and are planning to use a shelter- learn about items you will need to bring. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211hurricane.org for more helpful information.
211 is available 24/7 to assist callers:
Before: if you or someone you know needs information and updates on emergency shelters and hurricane preparedness staff are ready to speak with you. During: for those who are in need of reassurance, for those who are isolated and alone, or for those experiencing emotional distress 211 staff will be available. After a storm, 211 staff comfort while directing callers to local distribution centers and emergency assistance programs.