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Aid groups start disaster preparations early in advance of busy hurricane season

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Posted at 6:46 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 12:39:51-04

Nonprofit aid groups started their disaster preparation early this year as NOAA predicts this will be a busy and "active" hurricane season.

"We are ready to go," said Steve Stirling, President and CEO of MAP International.

The 65-year-old nonprofit exists to help people get access to medication. Their work is in more than 45 countries.

"To ship containers of medicines for chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular, diabetes, and asthma, also antibiotics and prenatal vitamins."

However, their distribution centers in the US are at the ready and have been prepared since January.

Ten thousand disaster health kits are already pre-positioned in areas expected to get hit hardest this hurricane season.

"Toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, washcloth, and first-aid kits are the types of items that are what we prepare and provide during disaster response such as a hurricane," said Stirling.

Their volunteers started prepping in the winter, assuming that this year would be busy. "This year's been early. It seems like it's getting earlier and earlier, but normally we start packing in February march."

NOAA experts do not anticipate the historic number of storms we saw in 2020, but they say it won't be quiet this year.

"NOAA's outlook for 2021 hurricane season indicates that an above-normal season is most likely," said acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman.

He detailed this year's statistics saying there's a 60% chance of an above-normal season and that there will likely be between 13 and 20 named storms and three to five major hurricanes.

But he stressed that all it takes is to bring dangerous winds, deadly storm surges, and flooding.

"If you are in a hurricane zone, now is the time to ensure you have an evacuation plan in place, disaster supplies on hand, and a plan to secure your home quickly," Friedman said.

They urge early preparation, something that organizations like MAP have already done.

"When you leave an area because disaster hits, you don't even have a toothpaste or toothbrush, so we try to give humanity back," Stirling said. "Things like soap and shampoo and comb, washcloth, first aid kit, those types of items that can be helpful to people who don't have anything when they leave because of a disaster."