Sara Neumann 203.209.6545 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (September 9, 2017) — Less than 24 hours before Hurricane Irma strikes Florida, Save the Children is warning that more than four million children throughout the state are currently in Hurricane Irma’s path in Florida, with millions more at risk throughout the southeastern United States.
Severe hurricane conditions are expected in southern Florida starting Saturday night. Initial landfall is expected in the Florida Keys by Saturday evening, and it is expected to roar up the west side of the state, with another landfall possible near Naples or Fort Myers on Sunday. Storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is possible in some communities.
Dangerous winds, storm surge, flooding and tornadoes are possible across the state. With more than 5.6 million people told to evacuate, it is likely that more the one million children have had to flee their homes.
“There are a multitude of risks to children during storms such as Irma—including storm damage, the chance of separation from parents and the psychological impacts of natural disaster,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “We urge parents to do everything they can to help keep their children safe and out of harm’s way, including talking to their children about the storm, filling out an In Case of Emergency card and evacuating to shelters or safer areas when told to do so by authorities.”
A mom of two young children, Katherine Ann of Brandon, Florida told Save the Children staff, “My decision to evacuate my home and move further inland was for my children. I spoke to my 6-year-old about my own memories of hurricanes when I was growing up and answer his questions as truthfully as possible. The hurricane will be loud and scary, but I reminded him that there are caring adults all around to help protect him and his brother.”
Save the Children is mobilizing teams and supplies to deploy to Florida in able to reach children and families worst affected by the storm, including Child Friendly Space kits to be used in shelters after the storm passes to give kids a safe place to play and read away from the stress of the situation. In addition, baby and toddler items such as pack and play cribs, strollers, baby wash basins and infant hygiene supplies are being procured to help families who had to evacuate without needed items for their children.
“We still don't know exactly what Irma's impact will be on Florida, but we are preparing for the worst and will respond in any way necessary so children do not suffer," added Miles.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.