NewFM: Funding Hurricane Preparedness for Many Families Has to Go Beyond a Tax Holiday

The start of Hurricane season in Florida also brings about a rush to stores, as officials urge families to take advantage of a tax holiday to stock up on supplies before a potential disaster strikes. However, for many families who struggle to make ends meet, purchasing batteries, water and other necessities on the fly can be difficult.

New Florida Majority Executive Director Andrea Mercado released the following statement Monday as Governor Rick Scott promoted the state’s Sales Tax Holiday for Hurricane Preparedness Supplies in Miami.

“While it is true that the state’s tax holiday will help lessen the tax burden for those looking to stock up on supplies ahead of the next storm, not enough is being done to help struggling families who cannot afford to purchase these items.

For these vulnerable families, hurricane preparedness is not a question of desire or just planning ahead. When you live paycheck to paycheck, tight budgets that barely cover basic expenses of housing, food and medicine don’t allow for much else. With very little disposable income, the choice to purchase even something like a portable first aid kit or electric radio could come at the cost of groceries or medicine. This is an agonizing choice to have to make when storms bear down.

And this is not just a small, marginalized group. This is the case for the majority of households in Miami-Dade County. The United Way’s 2017 ALICE report noted that 44% of all Florida households — including 58% of those in Miami-Dade County — were having difficulty affording the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. These are working-class residents, students, the elderly – all of whom deserve to be able to weather such storms.”

Mercado noted that organizations like NewFM are working with local leaders to create more neighborhood-tailored response plans to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“More attention and resources have to be paid to this issue of equity in public and private sector disaster preparedness plans,” added community activist and NewFM leader Valencia Gunder. “It’s not just our physical infrastructure, like drains, trees, and power lines, that need protection in these times of crisis. We need to be willing to invest in the people that power not just our economy, but every aspect of life in our beloved neighborhoods.”