Safety, Disaster, and Storm Preparation in the Gullah/Geechee Nation
I have lived through several hurricanes on St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. I have also been engaged in disaster preparedness and climate change planning in the Gullah/Geechee Nation and other parts of the world. More than all of this, I am a person of faith. However, I do not simply pray-I prepare. So, as I pray and I prepare, GOD has called me to also share.
Several years ago, I was called upon to go to Chicago to assist in disaster preparedness training and speaking there awakened me to the abundance of knowledge I’d amassed because of life experience while it also ignited a fire in me to find out more ways to help pass on what I know. I also wanted to go to more places and learn more ways to engage in emergency preparation because I know that many of my people of the Gullah/Geechee Nation are not going to always be in the positions to leave our homeland nor would most want to do so. Given the experiences that many that evacuated during Hurricane Matthew had, they said that they would not want to do that again. However, I consistently encourage people to watch as well as pray and prepare if you are led to stay.
I got the word early on that hotels throughout Georgia were already full because of the evacuations that had taken place from Hurricane Harvey and that were underway due to Hurricane Irma already (Folks haven’t even had time to digest the fact that Tropical Storm Jose is right behind her heading in the same path it appears). I then got flashbacks to inland flooding that happened in the midlands of South Carolina when there wasn’t a hurricanes and how the waters flooded downward toward the Lowcountry not that long ago. So, as I sit and try to map out where folks can go to given all of this and the wildfires that are raging in places further north and west to which some would have thought to fly, I stopped to pray and then to prepare.
One of the first things that I did was to go through my own disaster preparedness checklist and next I updated the apps on my telephone. These apps were not available years ago and smart phones weren’t available to do all that they do when I spoke in Chicago years ago. So, I encourage all those within the Gullah/Geechee Nation to insure that they are well aware of the apps that can be downloaded from these sites:
I spent time updating the apps on my phone to insure that I had the latest version of the apps on my phone and to make sure that my emergency plan and contacts were updated and locked in. Here are some of the apps that I rely on during the hurricane season:
Beaufort County, SC Emergency Management App
I included the bank app because if you have to evacuate or the area you are in loses power or the branch floods, you can still move funds to your ATM card from other accounts via the app.
I don’t encourage using your flashlight apps on your cell phones during the storm since this will decrease your battery. However, you should have at least one on your phone in the event that it is the only means that you have for getting some light if the power goes out. Make sure to have actual flashlights with batteries or those that you can crank by hand to use as part of your preparations.
Many counties do not yet have emergency management apps as Beaufort County, SC does. However, they do have websites that will provide you critical information such as:
After making sure that I had linked the social media of the various emergency management areas that I needed to stay in touch with, I insured that the things on my updated emergency/disaster preparedness list were checked off and placed where my family and I could easily access them. After going over this list several times, I wanted to share it with the rest of my family-those of you that are reading this. I pray that you find it helpful as you prepare:
Tenki Tenki ta all hunnuh chillun wha yeddi disya pun Gullah/Geechee TV and use um fa hep de Gullah/Geechee Famlee fit readee:
As I pray for my family and yours, at the top of my prayer list is safety for all of us and healing for our environment.
GAWD bless hunnuh chillun,
Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation
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