By Kirsy Rodriguez
Around this time last year, I experienced staying at a shelter for the very first time. Something that I honestly never thought I would have to experience.
You see, prior to moving to Florida three years ago, I lived in Brooklyn, New York. Hurricanes in that part of the country are very rare and the closest that I’ve ever came to experiencing a hurricane, was when Hurricane Sandy came to the New York area. I was in a safe area so we didn’t have to go to a shelter. Not that that option was even in my thoughts, honestly. As many New Yorkers, I just prepared very much like I did plenty of other times during blizzards; I stocked up on food (mainly junk food), water, flashlights, extra batteries and a few candles, in case we lost power.
When I moved to Florida, I learned that hurricane season is alive and well, in this part of the country and that stocking up on the essentials, is great but I also needed to have a secondary plan. That secondary plan involved knowing where my closest wheelchair accessible shelters were, in case we were going to be hit by a major hurricane.
Our first lesson in staying at a shelter came last year, during Hurricane Matthew. My family and I, honestly didn’t know what to expect and you can say that we were a little underprepared when we went in. I guess that always happens when it’s your first time experiencing something new like this. This year however was a little different when we went to seek shelter from Hurricane Irma and we have Hurricane Matthew to thank.
So with that said, below I will share with you my top personal tips when going to a shelter. My prayer is that you never have to use these tips but in case you do face such situation, I hope that these points may be of some help to you in being prepared and knowing what to expect.