TONI SAYS: Hurricane season starts June 1…are you prepared?

By Toni King

Readers: This is Toni King’s annual reminder about preparing for a natural disaster or other emergency. It is a rerun, adapted from the Toni Says June 1, 2023, Medicare column.

Dear Toni:

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey absolutely devastated my wife. Now, her 88-year-old mother is living in an assisted living facility, and we live over 10 miles away from her.

What can we do to be prepared for another hurricane, tornado or other emergency should it happen in our area to protect the elderly? We are concerned the assistant living facility does not have an evacuation plan and I cannot find one online. Thanks, Mark from Tomball, TX

Hello Mark:

Hurricane season officially starts Saturday, June 1 and will not end until Saturday, November 30. As we get deeper into the season, the storms get stronger.

Everyone should have a family disaster readiness plan for hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and all types of disasters. Having a readiness plan is especially crucial for seniors or those who are disabled, because many are dependent on technologically for their life support or ongoing medical treatment.

Here are a few questions, to help you prepare for any disaster or hurricane:

1) Do I stay or go? This will depend on where you live. If you live in a city or other highly populated area, leave early. During past storms, people were caught in massive traffic jams, waiting on the highway for hours or days to evacuate. Leaving early will help you avoid serious delays and avoid running out of gas while stuck in traffic.

a) Make sure you have a sufficient supply of your prescriptions and always bring your list of current prescriptions for yourself and any family member.

b) Have a copy of medical records for those with critical medical conditions (such as your mother-in-law’s, Mark). Keep the medical records in a safe place that you can get to immediately when evacuating. Also bring all legal documents such as Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will.

c) Have a backup plan in case you are not in town for the emergency, so other family members can take over for the elderly loved one.

2) Do I have access to clean water? If you do not have access to clean water, then any crisis becomes critical in a couple of days. Remember, you may not have access to a grocery store, or, even if you do, its supplies may be depleted.

3) Do I have an adequate food supply? Most households have a few days of food already available, but the best way to stock up on additional food and supplies is to add a little bit extra each week. Remember that during an emergency, the power may be out, so cook your frozen and refrigerated food first.

4) Do I have enough cash on hand? Keep your checkbook with you in case you run out of cash and the ATMs are not operating.

5) Does my family know where to meet? It is important that all family members and loved ones know where to meet in a disaster.

After Hurricane Harvey devastated us in Texas and the pandemic impacted everyone’s lives, America cannot take storms and natural disasters lightly. Limited access to essential supplies such as water, groceries and baby formula have affected us all.

I remember watching the news during Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001 when 18-wheelers were floating sideways down I-10 because the water was so high. That was the moment I learned the importance of being prepared!

True of both Hurricanes and Medicare, “What you don’t know WILL hurt you!”

Call the Toni Says hotline at (832) 519-8664 or email [email protected] for help with Medicare. Toni’s Medicare Moments articles have just been released at The Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition is available at