NW Fla. Seniors Kept Safe in Severe Weather

By: Bergen Baucom
By: Bergen Baucom

Quincy, FL- Gadsden County emergency officials were working to keep seniors safe Monday. Because many people rely on smart phones or the internet to get instant information, some were concerned people in the elderly community may not be prepared for tropical storm Debby and the damage it could cause.

Shortly after hurricane Katrina, Gadsden County officials created a program called, "KISS" or, Keeping Independent Seniors Safe. It's for senior citizens who live alone and may not be tech-savvy. It's run by volunteers who routinely check on senior members of the community by phone or in person. For years the welfare checks have been done everyday, but Monday, volunteers placed a different kind of phone call.

Because there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding tropical storm Debby, volunteers wanted to make sure the KISS members had a plan in case disaster struck. They called the list of over 200 seniors to ask what plans they had made in the event of severe weather. If they had not made a plan, volunteers made one for them.

"Don't let the fact that the storm may not be as strong lead people to believe there may not still be a possibility of danger" Major and Emergency Management Director Shawn Wood said. "We're doing what we're doing just not to let our guard down" he added.

Gadsden County has three evacuation shelters with one prepared for those with special needs. Authorities believe a large portion of that population are also a members of the KISS program.

"We're looking at our special needs shelter and making sure every thing's ready and available if they need it. It will be as accommodating as it can, we have public health nurses who will be available" Gadsden County Health Department Administrator Aaron Kissler told us.

Authorities were most concerned the large amount of rainfall would cause flooding in some parts of the county.

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