by Erin SILVER
Bermuda is a friendly place, so it’s only natural you’ll want to help your community before and after a hurricane.
“We do five days of hurricane preparedness at the beginning of June,” explains Steve Cosham, National Disaster Coordinator for the Ministry of National Security with the Government of Bermuda. He is also part of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team. “Day five is devoted to community preparedness.”
The most important thing is to know your neighbours and community in advance of hurricane season. “Knock on your neighbour’s door,” says Cosham. “By doing that, you get to know who’s vulnerable. You might find someone who has special needs. Over time you can develop a relationship. Before or after a hurricane, you can help them prepare and see how they are.”
In short, it’s nice just to check in on people as a regular part of your life. In addition to being neighbourly, Bermuda also has about 300 charities and a number of churches. Each of these organizations helps people in their own communities and areas of need. “Charities and churches are very active in their community,” says Cosham. “They have an active understanding of who needs help and where they are.”
If you volunteer for one of these organizations or are an active member, check in with leadership to see how you can be of assistance. Perhaps they need donations of clothes, money, food or just need people to check in on others. Don’t be shy or assume it’s all under control. Volunteers are always needed, especially in cases of emergency.
Of course, it’s important to care for yourself and your family if you’re going to be in a position to help others. Make sure you have the supplies you need to prepare for a hurricane. Stay fit and healthy and get lots of rest so you can be on your best when you’re most needed. After a hurricane, clear up any mess on your property and street when it’s safe to do so and according to your level of ability. You can’t respond to help others if it isn’t safe and you aren’t prepared. Pay attention to the news and any alerts to know when the storm has passed.
“We haven’t had a category 4 hurricane since the 1950s,” Cosham reminds Bermudians, “and we’ve never been devastated with a category 5. Having only experienced category 3 hurricanes, Bermudians are typically able to get back on our feet afterward.”
Still, adds Cosham, it’s nice to ask what your community members need, not just during a hurricane season, but every couple of weeks all year.
Go to gov.bm for information and check your local newspaper for more tips on hurricane preparedness.