A hurricane can wreak havoc on anything and anyone in its path.
As 2017’s hurricane season showed, it is crucial for everyone in hurricane-prone areas—such as Florida and Texas—to be prepared for storm season.
Last year, Harvey rampaged through Texas, while Irma stormed across Florida and Maria devastated much of Puerto Rico, along with some areas in the U.S Virgin Islands.
Houston Heights, Texas, massage therapist Joel Quezada remembers being in the path of Harvey, getting his equipment off the floor of the studio space he rents from a CrossFit gym, his practice space being “all torn up”—and being evacuated for almost three months.
Still, Quezada was lucky.
He had money saved to see him through both his evacuation and the numerous clients who had to focus on rebuilding rather than getting a massage post-hurricane.
Harvey, Irma and Maria were among the most costly hurricanes ever, according to news reports. The cost of Harvey, $125 billion, is second only to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
Of course, the human cost was even higher, with more than 100 people killed by Harvey and Irma combined, and Maria causing the deaths of up to 1,000 people.
It’s clear that massage therapists in Texas, Florida and other hurricane-prone areas must be prepared to protect their businesses—and their lives.
Texas Prepares for “Next Harvey”
Officials in Texas are making hurricane preparedness a priority.
“We are doing this to prepare for the next Harvey,” Lt. Col. Troy Meuth, who directs the aerial search-and-rescue efforts for the Texas Military Department, said in a statement from The Texas A&M University System.
The state’s elite search-and-rescue organization, Texas Task Force 1, operates under the university’s Engineering Extension Service.
The Texas Department of Safety offers this hurricane-preparedness advice to its state’s citizens:
- Put together an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions
- Review hurricane evacuation maps, and select a route for you and your family
- Plan how all of your family members and pets will evacuate safely
- Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly
- Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area
- Follow the instructions of local officials if a storm develops
Florida Publishes Essential Guide to Hurricanes
Hurricane Irma—the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico—made landfall on southwest Florida on Sept. 10, 2017. Irma forced the evacuation of 5.6 million people, and flooded cities including Jacksonville.
On Sept. 9, a notice on the home page of the Sarasota School of Massage, in Sarasota, Florida, told anyone reading the page, “It looks like we are likely to end up in the worst-case scenario, or close to it. If you have a place to go, there is still time to leave. If you are staying, and the forecast continues to be this bad by this evening, go to a shelter. Please be safe SSMT community! We love you!”
For 2018’s hurricane season, Florida’s official state website has published The Essential Guide to Hurricane Preparedness, as a free downloadable PDF.
This page also provides hurricane alerts and explanations of various storm terminology, such as eye wall and rain bands.
Visitors to the page will also see in depth information about what to include in an emergency kit:
- Non-perishable food (enough to last at least three days)
- Water (enough to last at least three days)
- First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
- Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
- Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
- Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
- Waterproof container with cash and important documents
- Manual can opener
- Lighter or matches
- Books, magazines, games for recreation
- Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
- Cooler and ice packs
- A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated
Puerto Rico Still Needs Help
Puerto Rico is still rebuilding. According to Charity Search, which vets organizations that distribute charitable funds, several groups may be trusted with your donation.
Puerto Rican massage therapists displaced by Maria and who left for the mainland U.S. have been challenged by licensing laws that don’t support portability, meaning they can’t work in massage until completing additional education.
After the Storm
Quezada, whose Houston Heights practice is called Massage Therapy by Joel Quezada: Pain Relief Specialist, told MASSAGE Magazine that his business has bounced back in the 11 months since Hurricane Harvey.
“I volunteered at markets to get my name out there,” he said. “Farmers’ markets vendors are more receptive to you if you offer it for free. That’s what I did afterward, to get my name out there and get my clientele up.”
He also said the Austin massage community, 165 miles away “emptied out their massage closets” and donated tables, chairs and other equipment to hurricane-hit colleagues. “It was ridiculous,” he recalled. “It was awesome.”
Quezada suggests that, most importantly, massage colleagues in hurricane-prone areas build up their savings accounts or invest in hurricane insurance.
If you are in a hurricane zone you might also considering downloading the guide, “How to Prepare for and Survive Hurricanes,” published by The Prepared, an organization focused on helping people get ready for and survive emergencies.
According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, the incidence of hurricane is growing.
“In the future, there may not necessarily be more hurricanes, but there will likely be more intense hurricanes that carry higher wind speeds and more precipitation as a result of global warming,” noted an article on the union’s website. “The impacts of this trend are likely to be exacerbated by sea level rise and a growing population along coastlines.”
Whether you are at risk of hurricane—or fire, tornado, floor or other natural disaster, take steps now to protect your practice.
About the Author
Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. Her recent articles for massagemag.com include “Meet the MT Who Helped the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Win Olympic Gold” and “The MT’s Guide to Marijuana and Massage.”