This Is What Happens To Homeless People During Natural Disasters

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A community’s homeless population is the most vulnerable during natural disasters. They have nowhere to go, no protection, and no means to prepare. In areas along the east coast, particularly Florida, protecting the homeless especially becomes a priority for authorities during hurricane season.

Hurricane season runs from June to November, and everyone who could feel the impact of potential storms is advised to prepare in advance. When you’re homeless, you don’t have that luxury. In Miami, multiple shelters have opened ahead of Hurricane Irma, offering a safe and viable option for those who need to evacuate, and those who have nowhere else to go.

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Homeless Trust Chairman Ron Booktold the Miami Herald that outreach workers have been making the rounds around Miami-Dade County all week, hoping to gather as many of the almost 1,100 homeless people in the area as possible. They then take them to the Homeless Assistance Center, or to any of the dozens of shelters that have opened in the days ahead of the storm.

Preparations ahead of Houston’s deadly Hurricane Harvey were similar. The New York Times reported thatThe Red Cross opened shelters throughout the city, and that Houston’s outreach teams spent days gathering the homeless and delivering them to safety. However, not all homeless people wanted to go with them, and chose to stay in the comfort of their familiar areas instead. Some, it seems, make that decision out of unfamiliarity with hurricanes themselves and the forceful winds they can bring.

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“I’ve never experienced a hurricane,” Roy Joe Cox, who lives on a slip of cement between two Houston traffic lanes told The New York Times, before Harvey. “Is it going to rain that bad? Is it going to flood me out? I mean, I don’t want to die over a hurricane. I’d rather not die.”

If there’s a natural disaster coming your way, and you are well prepared, please consider helping the homeless in your community by ensuring that a shelter knows where they are so they can come get them.

You can reach The Red Cross here.

You can reach Camillus House here.

You can reach Miami-Dade Homeless Trust here.

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