Hurricane Preparedness Requires a Wider Aperture in Greater Miami

With hurricanes, flooding and extreme heat on the horizon, the name “hurricane season” doesn’t do justice to summer and fall in Greater Miami anymore. Last year, we felt the burn of 42 days of extreme heat and waded through six days of flash flooding. Thankfully, we were spared the destruction of hurricanes. But this year, we’re entering the season with a wider definition of the potential destruction this season brings with it.

So, perhaps it’s time to expand how we label May through November in Greater Miami. “Rainy season” rings true, but “hurricane season” only tells part of the story. Disaster season is perhaps the most fitting name for this time of year. It’s high winds, intense storms, storm surges, flash flooding, and extreme heat all rolled up into one.

And, by naming it, we can better prepare for what’s to come.

The Miami Foundation recently surveyed nonprofits in Greater Miami that support communities through disasters to understand the readiness of our nonprofit ecosystem. With each storm, Miami-Dade’s nonprofits play a critical role in helping our communities prepare and recover. Given their close ties to residents, they are uniquely positioned to serve as “first responders” in their communities.

In this first-of-its-kind data survey, we learned we have work to do to prepare for storms in Greater Miami. We found that only two out of every ten nonprofits in Greater Miami provide some type of disaster relief. Not surprisingly, nonprofits feel most prepared for hurricanes (71%). But as weather patterns change due to a warming climate, nonprofits and the clients they serve have a clear need for support beyond just hurricanes. When it comes to direct services, approximately 58% of non-profits distribute food, 47% provide education and training, 41% organize advocacy efforts and 21% provide mutual aid and mental health services.

The 2024 Miami Foundation Disaster Preparedness Study also found –

  • ·More than half of the organizations surveyed report being unprepared for dangerous heat emergencies which are happening more frequently.
  • Only 1 out of 10 nonprofits have the necessary resources to establish heat relief shelters or cooling centers when needed.
  • Nonprofits who participated say they need funding (82%), volunteers (45%) and facilities/space (39%) in the time of a storm.

As we become a more resilient community, we would benefit if more nonprofits were prepared for various disasters that can hit us during these months.

Taking Collective Action to Increase Disaster Preparedness

Reports show that for every $1 invested in community disaster preparedness, $6 in community savings is produced. Simply put, when we invest now, the payout in preparedness is exponential.

So, how is Greater Miami collectively preparing for the myriad of disasters that face the region?

Miami-Dade County has designated all public libraries as cooling centers, is planting trees throughout the County to provide much-needed shade, and is expanding its Annual Hurricane Preparedness Guide to include information about other types of disasters. The City of Miami is adopting a new heat strategy. Communities are developing a network of local hubs to serve as community-based relief shelters in the face of emergencies and natural disasters.

Through The Miami Disaster Resilience Fund, a permanent, revolving collaborative fund that supports disaster preparedness and equitable long-term recovery, we are piloting a parametric policy program that will support low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in Greater Miami with emergency cash funds after a major hurricane. Parametric insurance is unique in that it pays based on a measure of the hazard, also known as the trigger (as opposed to a claim equal to the loss or repair cost). With a parametric policy the payment is immediate once the policy has been triggered. It can provide fast and flexible dollars after a disaster – which is exactly what we’ve aimed to do through the Miami Disaster Resilience Fund.

The Miami Disaster Resilience Fund is made possible with the support of The Coral Gables Community FoundationKey Biscayne Community FoundationThe Knight FoundationCVS Health Foundation, William R. Watts Foundation, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Ken Griffin and Dan Lewis. Each year, through the Fund, we invest in organizations that are readying Greater Miami for disaster season. Here at The Miami Foundation, we are using our resources to rally philanthropic, public, and private partners to prepare our communities and provide relief during disasters.

This year, several nonprofits will receive a total of $110,000 to support their hurricane preparedness efforts:
  • Allapattah Collaborative CDC aims to build an inclusive economy while preserving the neighborhood’s unique cultural heritage. Addressing climate gentrification is a key focus of their preparedness and recovery planning. They will prepare the local community with disaster kit distributions and education.
  • Bridge to Hope provides comprehensive support to ensure food security, improve health, and enhance economic outcomes for disadvantaged and in-crisis households. They will enhance community preparedness by providing food, water, and emergency supplies to low-income families before a disaster.
  • Center for Independent Living of South Florida was established in 1993 in response to the overwhelming needs of people with disabilities following Hurricane Andrew. CLSF will offer training sessions on disaster preparedness and house fires to empower individuals with disabilities.
  • Centro Campesino Farmworker Center has over 30 years of disaster recovery expertise, offering immediate relief such as ice and water distribution and food aid. They will offer training to enhance preparedness for extreme heat within their communities. · CLEO Institute is dedicated to climate education, advocacy, and engagement. They will provide essential workshops and training on extreme heat and disaster preparedness.
  • Global Empowerment Mission is a nonprofit that acts as a first responder to vulnerable communities affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the world. GEM will prepare for hurricane season by packaging and prepositioning disaster kits in case of a storm.
  • Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center is a nonprofit that empowers, strengthens, and uplifts the Haitian-American community in South Florida. They will offer disaster preparedness services and provide heat mitigation education to Haitian communities across North-Dade.
  • Ten North Group transforms lives by providing equitable access to housing and wealth-building for under-resourced communities, especially those affected by systemic bias. They will prepare the local community with disaster kit distributions and education.
  • United Home Care is the largest nonprofit organization serving older and disabled adults and their caregivers in Miami-Dade County. They will offer comprehensive in-home disaster preparedness assistance to seniors, including meal delivery, tarp installation, medication services, and emergency care coordination.
Community leaders assist in packing emergency supplies at the Global Empowerment Mission warehouse.
Valencia Gunder, of nonprofit The Smile Trust, gives a tour of the warehouse near Opa-Locka that will be used as a "community emergency operations center" following a hurricane or other disaster.

Additionally, The Miami Foundation is partnering with Good 360 to distribute hurricane preparedness kits to communities through a network of 10 nonprofits. And, in an effort to strengthen the nonprofit preparedness and relief ecosystem, The Miami Foundation is bringing together ten nonprofits this year to create a Disaster Preparedness Community of Practice, designed to share knowledge and provide collaborative learning and practical exercises to enhance organizational readiness for natural disasters.

Greater Miami is ground zero for climate risk. As our climate evolves and disasters intensify, preparedness alone is not enough. Nonprofits play a critical role in reaching and supporting our entire community. A broad and inclusive approach to “disaster season” is essential for Greater Miami to successfully weather the storms ahead.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.