Photo: Picture of local resident and her dog sleeping at a hurricane shelter during Hurricane Irma in 2017

Hurricane Dorian: Nonprofits Prepare Homebound People in Sarasota and Manatee

Posted on August 30, 2019 by Timothy Fanning, Herald-Tribune Media Group

As Dorian nears, Meals on Wheels and others check-in and send available food and water.

As Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, local nonprofits are mobilizing to ensure the safety of thousands of older Sarasota and Manatee County residents and people with disabilities who live alone.

Starting Saturday, Meals on Wheels Sarasota will distribute close to 700 nonperishable meals and water within city limits. It has also registered each of its clients with local Sarasota County shelters and is prepared to check-in with them in case the storm sweeps through the area.

“Most are individuals who are completely alone in this world,” said Marjorie Broughton, executive director of Meals on Wheels Sarasota. “Aside from making sure they have the food and water they need, we are making sure they are removed or that they are as safe as they can be in their domicile.”

In Manatee County, Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee began distributing nonperishable meals in July and have spent days leading up to the weekend calling clients to make sure they have the food and water they need for the storm.

“Several didn’t know there was a hurricane approaching,” said Amy Towery, vice president of development.

The nonprofit is also prepared to meet the emergency needs of the community should Hurricane Dorian become a considerable weather event for Manatee County.

“No matter what age or where someone lives, we would encourage them to stay in touch with loved ones with their plans as the storm path becomes more clear,” said Genevieve Judge, Sarasota Police Department spokeswoman. “Welfare check requests can be difficult and may not be able to happen immediately during any storm.”

The Friendship Centers, one of the largest resources for older residents in Sarasota County, has also been reaching out to older adults through its Friendship at Home program.

“Seniors can often get overlooked in a natural disaster,” said Crystal Rothaar, the nonprofit’s spokeswoman. “That’s why it’s important to check on them beforehand, to make sure they have everything that they need.”

The Friendship Centers is not a shelter and will be closed during the hurricane. However, the facilities in Sarasota and Venice will serve as staging points after the storm to distribute water, food, and other supplies for the Area Agency on Aging and the Community Organizations Active Disaster.

The Friendship Centers is also urging older residents with special needs to register with as soon as possible. That will allow those residents to receive assistance.

“Find a friend, family member or neighbor because your best measure is to be with others during the storm,” said April Moschini, Friendship Centers manager. “If they can’t be with others, we recommend they follow the disaster preparedness guide from the Department of Elder Affairs.”

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs urges seniors to be mindful of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. In addition to plenty of water, older adults are also encouraged to fill any prescriptions and make sure they are stored in a safe, dry place.

The Department also recommends to include spare eyeglasses, catheters, batteries, oxygen systems, a first-aid kit, medical insurance, and Medicaid/Medicare cards and medical alert tags/bracelets in your hurricane kit.

The Friendship Centers has also put together a comprehensive supply and preparedness check-list for seniors at

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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