TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL)- As hurricane Matthew inches closer to Florida, a hospital leader in our region is sharing how important it is to listen to the state’s evacuation warnings. Mountain States Health Alliance CEO Alan Levine is no stranger to hurricanes as he previously served as Florida’s secretary of health from 2004 to 2006.
During that time, Levine tells me there was a period of time when the state remained either under an evacuation or in a state of recovery as Florida was pounded with 4 hurricanes. Now Levine is sharing his insight in the hopes of helping others.
Levine said, “I think people should prepare for the psychological effects because things won’t return back to normal right away.”
He said one thing he learned is that the damage doesn’t end once the storm has passed. Levine said, “Most of the deaths from a hurricane actually occur after the storm.”
“After the storm, generally people get curious so they start venturing out and that’s dangerous,” he said. “You can be in only two feet of water and get electrocuted because there are downed power lines and there are sharp objects in the water … it’s extremely dangerous and not safe,” Levine said.
Levine added that, until you’ve dealt with a hurricane, it’s hard to fully understand the extent of the destruction that it can leave behind. He said, “When people lose everything that they own, it is devastating.”
Levine said, “I saw it not only in Florida but in Louisiana and it is devastating. Then you have to deal with the post response and all the financial issues that go along with trying to restore your life. They may find that they don’t have coverage and that’s where FEMA can be very helpful,” he said.
But Levine said there is a way that people in the Tri-Cities can help those impacted by hurricane Matthew. He said Governor Rick Scott will announce a list of organizations that the state is partnering with for help.
He said, “Generally, the Red Cross is one of those organizations and you’ll see where you can call and make a contribution and that’s a really good thing to do because they have a need for resources.”
So far, more than 2 million people have been urged to evacuate their home in Florida making this the largest mandatory evacuation in the United States since hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012.
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