FPL helps Broward seniors prepare for hurricane season
July 3, 2024
Sean October knocks on a door at the Gateway Terrace senior living community

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Rain trickled from Sean October’s hat as he held a tower of boxes up to his chin. He maneuvered past puddles and slick paths, finally arriving at an apartment door in Gateway Terrace, a tranquil senior community steps from the Karen Canal and Middle River.

Before knocking, he confirmed with a wet sheet of paper that he was at the right place. Each door he knocked on creaked open, revealing grateful smiles from seniors receiving hurricane preparedness meal kits.

“My grandmother lived in communities like these in Broward,” October said. “It’s important to me that our seniors have what they need, especially during hurricane season.”

Each kit includes three days' worth of shelf-stable breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, along with snacks and water. The meal kits are also packed with a storm preparedness guide, which is vital for what experts are forecasting to be an active hurricane season.

October and his girlfriend, Ajsa Moone, volunteered their Saturday morning to make sure more than 80 seniors received meals. They’re used to giving back to the community in their free time. October often mentors youth groups and helps plant sea oats near beaches to combat sea erosion in Broward County.

On this rainy day, with waterlogged streets and the sky an unending shade of gray, the couple's dedication to their community shone through.

As they navigated their delivery route, the intensifying rain only strengthened their mission to ensure seniors received nonperishable meals, crucial for the unpredictable hurricane season.

“This is nothing compared to what I’m used to,” October said as he waited outside a door under the rain. “These are the types of environments we work in day in and day out to provide reliable electricity to our community. Heavy rain, strong winds and even flooding is all in a day’s work.”

As a power delivery area manager for Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), he's no stranger to inclement weather. He often works against the odds to keep the lights on and knows all too well the importance of preparedness.  

In June, he was dealing with extreme rainfall and widespread flooding. Parts of Florida were under a state of emergency after 2 feet of rain fell in some spots, flooding cities including Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Naples.

Cars were nearly submerged on roads, water flooded homes and streets, and hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. 

“The weather has already been hugely impactful this year,” Rev. Anne Atwell of Sunshine Cathedral said. “It's really important that people have security. With FPL, the Florida Council on Aging and Sunshine Cathedral, we're going to make that happen.”

The deliveries were made possible by all three organizations joining forces, along with other local agencies, to ensure more than 750 seniors in Broward County have meal kits this hurricane season.

Billy Cull said the meal delivery is a huge help to his neighbors in Gateway Terrace, which he calls “gateway to paradise.”

He received a few food boxes for a 102-year-old neighbor with Alzheimer’s who he cares for. Cull often helps her with cooking, shopping, laundry and running errands.

“It’s good because there are a lot of people here who don't have automobiles and aren't mobile,” Cull said about the meal kits. “You don’t have to have an ice box and if the lights go out and you can't get out, you have some food in the house.”

This initiative has not been confined to Broward County. FPL has partnered with local organizations in more than 25 counties including Brevard, Escambia, Miami-Dade, Lee, Nassau, Palm Beach, Panama City, Sarasota and more, where the effort is projected to help nearly 10,000 seniors across Florida.

For guidance on hurricane preparedness, FPL's website (FPL.com/storm) offers a wealth of tips, checklists and resources.