Our 2019 Summer of Preparedness outreach events have been ongoing over the past three months with a focus on reaching some of our most vulnerable and at-risk populations in Hillsborough County. Through these outreach efforts, USF College of Public Health (COPH) students and faculty, CERT members, and community partners have been able to reach 234 residents in Hillsborough County and volunteers have been able to provide 505.5 hours of service this summer thus far.
Here is a little more information about some of our
targeted outreach here in the community...
Friday, June 14th: Hurricane Hanna Table-Top Exercise for University Area Residents
Our first Community Hurricane Table-top Exercise was hosted over the course of a 3-hour session in partnership with CERT members and students from the University Area Community Development Center (UACDC). Experts from Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Social Services contributed to the success of the event.
The session was well received with 40 residents from the University Area community in attendance eager to learn about how they can develop a disaster plan. The session was interactive, residents identified their social networks in their community, developed a family plan to help them prepare for Hurricane Season, and then tested their plan to help identify anything they may have missed.
Residents were able to learn about hazards in their community and reflect on experiences that they had during Hurricane Irma that would help their fellow neighbors think about what they could do to help protect their homes, family members and fellow neighbors.
Friday, July 12th: Outreach in Wimauma and Ruskin
Outreach held Friday, July 12th in southern Hillsborough County focused on visiting residents in both the Wimauma and Ruskin area followed by an evening workshop with residents in a agricultural housing complex in Ruskin. The information we talked about with these residents seemed to be very helpful and informative for them as they asked a lot of questions and were thankful for us coming out. Many felt incredibly vulnerable and unprepared if another hurricane comes. Furthermore, we took some photos to share from our day out in the community as well.
"In all, we were able to connect with 53 residents in Wimauma and Ruskin with 28 volunteers from either my class, the community or our USF CERT to assist throughout the day," shared USF Faculty member and CERT Director, Elizabeth Dunn.
Just to give you an overview of the day, volunteers teamed up with Wholesome Community Ministries where Pastor Carlos connected us with two of their members that are active in the community and were willing to serve as translators and provide us with an overview of the community. With our 6 teams of 3-4 volunteers each, we were able to knock on 133 doors in both Ruskin and Wimauma with 40 households answering in these communities. Teams passed around both English and Spanish educational materials to many of the residents who answered their door and spoke with them about preparedness. Jay Rajyaguru led the teams in Ruskin and Elizabeth Dunn was able to lead the teams in Wimauma.
Prior to our arrival, we did make arrangements with four families that were extremely vulnerable that have special medical needs to be able to meet with one-on-one to help them develop a disaster plan. This was a part of the "Lean on Me" project that the Hillsborough County CERTs and USF College of Public Health have partnered with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County to start educating and reaching out to those with special needs in our community. While visiting these families we were able to give them preparedness kits that were provided by the FDOH.
Later that evening CERT members hosted a workshop in Ruskin at a migrant farmworkers housing community where we spent a couple of hours with 13 families helping them develop their family plan and we were able to answer questions they may have about preparedness. Andrea Tristan was a great help leading this workshop in Spanish in collaboration with CERT member Patricia Useche Santana.
Friday, July 26th: "Lean on Me" in Town N Country
The "Lean on Me" project is designed to have a group of volunteers go to the homes of those with special medical needs to assist them with disaster planning. During our time in Town N Country, 8 teams of 3 (24 volunteers) went out in the community to meet with residents on the Special Needs registry through the FDOH to helps create a personalized plan so the resident can be prepared for severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, cold weather emergencies, as well as man-made disasters.
Local preparedness materials were provided that inform residents of some of our area’s hazards and resources that exist in the community. These materials, along with information from state and federal response agencies, were combined into a comprehensive client resource book. Volunteers provide this planning booklet to residents during our visits to the person’s home. Volunteers performed a hazard risk assessment, looking for fire hazards or mobility problems, and then assisted them by preparing specific disaster plans based on the client’s health acuity and identify resources available to help the client. The visit ended with the clients receiving a NOAA Weather Radio, a small first-aid kit, and a file box to gather and store important paperwork and resource lists.
Overall, CERT members, USF College of Public Health students, faculty, and community partners were able to meet one-on-one with 19 households in Town 'N Country to help them be better prepared and have a disaster plan.
Saturday, August 3rd: "Lean on Me" in Progress Village
Teaming up with the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management and other agencies across Hillsborough County, we were able to collaborate with the First Baptist Church of Progress Village during their Back to School Bash.
This was a great opportunity to table and provide educational material, answer questions, and support residents in the area to help them be prepared for hurricane season. In addition, 9 volunteers through the USF CERT, Tampa General Hospital and USF Health were able to come out to develop 4 push teams dedicated to reaching those who are homebound and/or have special medical needs through the "Lean on Me" project.
Teams reached 21 households in the Progress Village area dedicating Saturday to serving the community by helping those in the area understand their risks to storm surge.