Research Aims To Understand The Public Health Implications of Hurricane Michael Throughout North Florida Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2020

Contact: Salome Garcia, Program Manager at The CLEO Institute, (786)387-5111, Salome@CLEOInstitute.org

Mary Gutierrez, Earth Ethics, Inc, (850)549-7472, earthethicsaction@gmail.com

Research Aims To Understand The Public Health Implications of Hurricane Michael Throughout North Florida Communities

Tallahassee, Florida, January 22, 2020: Earth Ethics, Inc. and The CLEO Institute, a Florida based non-profit organization focusing on climate literacy, education, and advocacy, have partnered up with The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to understand the public health implications of Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael brought intense winds, heavy rain, and life-threatening storm surge, that wreaked havoc in Northwest Florida. Over a year later, people living in the areas hit hardest by the storm are still working to pick up and rebuild their lives. The stresses of hurricanes are great. Hurricanes can cause job loss, ruined homes, limited or no access to food, water, healthcare, and the loss of electricity for prolonged periods. Our citizens are left in tenuous economic, health, and safety situations.

This research, utilizing short resident surveys collected by volunteers, aims to understand the effects Hurricane Michael had upon the physiological and mental health of residents in the counties of Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Calhoun, Liberty, Leon and Gadsden counties.

“The burdens of extreme weather events and sea-level rise, driven by a changing climate, are only getting worse for communities,” Said Salome Garcia, program manager for the North Florida office of The CLEO Institute.

Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director of Earth Ethics added, “So often the Panhandle of Florida is overlooked or forgotten when addressing the needs of the State or addressing natural disasters, this survey will help people realize that they are not forgotten and we are working to see that their needs are met. This is important because we can expect to see an increase in intensity and frequency of storm events.”

Hurricanes gain and lose wind speed based, in part, on the temperature of the ocean water below. Gulf water is 4 to 5 degrees warmer than average, which has the capacity to increase a hurricane’s wind speed by 15 to 20 miles per hour – enough to shift a storm to the next category of severity. The effect of warmer water temperature of hurricane intensity can be seen in the way Hurricane Michael grew in intensity, from winds of 90mph to 155 mph in less than 33 hours.

“It is people of color and low-income communities who feel the worst impacts of the climate crisis. This research will allow us to get a better understanding of the public health implications people face in the months preceding a climate change fueled storm such as Michael.” Garcia added.

Earth Ethics, a non-profit organization that focuses on environmental and social issues, outreach and education, advocacy, and action, is looking for participants throughout the panhandle area. If you live in one of the above-listed counties and were impacted by Hurricane Michael directly or indirectly, please contact Mary Gutierrez, Earth Ethics, at earthethicsaction@gmail.com or call 850.549.7472. To learn more about the overall project, please contact Salome Garcia, The CLEO Institute, at Salome@cleoinstitute.org or call 786.387.5111.

Additional Resources: Mental Health post-hurricane Michael

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