With only about three months remaining in 2017, this year has proven to be a costly one in terms of natural disasters. So far this year, a total of 85 federal disaster declarations have been issued, dealing with everything from winter storms and flooding to hurricanes and wildfires. The unprecedented scale of these disasters has impacted many in our university community. In a matter of just two weeks, the country was hit by two major hurricanes, resulting in the evacuation of six million people in Texas and another 5.6 million in Florida (where I reside in Tampa). Both Harvey and Irma made landfall as Category 4 storms. And in the west, there are no less than 120 wildfires that have destroyed countless acres of forest and thousands of homes.
In a perfect world, everyone would be prepared anytime disaster strikes, but the reality is few disasters allow time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, thus making early planning a necessity. Whether it is wildfires in the west, tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest or hurricanes in the south and east coast, we all face the ever-present threat of disaster. Preparedness begins at home with our families, assuring they have the necessities needed for survival during long-term emergencies. While preparing my own family and home for the arrival of Irma, I spent the day sending out a series of tweets to help other members of our university community prepare their own families for disaster.