Traveling with ESAs & Pets During a Georgia Hurricane {Must Read}

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dark looming clouds of a georgia hurricaneRecently pet owners in North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Florida panhandle were told to evacuate by the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service as Hurricane Michael turned into a category four hurricane. Are you ready to evacuate with your emotional support animal in the next Georgia hurricane?

When a major hurricane comes, and evacuation orders are given, people begin to panic and hotels in “safe” areas start to fill up. People with pets can be left stranded without a place to stay if there are no pet-friendly accommodations available.

Leaving behind your emotional support animal in Georgia is not an option, as the damage from heavy rains and strong winds are not only terrifying to trapped animals but they can be deadly. Read on to learn more about traveling with your ESA during a Georgia hurricane.

Mandatory Evacuation Georgia: ESA Protocol for When You’re in an Evacuation Zone

When the National Hurricane Center predicts a hurricane will be powerful enough to cause widespread damage from the wind gusts and significant inches of rain that can create flash flooding and cause power lines to go down, there are mandatory evacuations for people in the area.

When you’re evacuating with your ESA, you need to have your ESA letter, preferably another form of identification for your animals like a badge or vest, and any relevant medical records. You should also have a way to keep your pet comfortable contained, like a crate or carrier.

Hotel owners and shelters do not have to allow emotional support animals by law but are more likely to allow a pet if it has proper documentation, especially during a crisis.

evacuation zone mandatory evacuation sign hurricane georgia

How to Get An ESA Letter To Make Travelling with Your Furkid Easier! 

If you have a qualifying disability, getting an ESA letter is a quick and easy process. All you need to do is talk with a licensed mental health professional and explain how your pet improves your mental health or helps you cope with the effects of your disability. There is no ESA registration or other materials needed.

Know Your Rights! The 2 Vital Emotional Support Animal Laws 

Emotional support animals are protected by 2 federal laws!

The first emotional support animal law is the Air Carrier Access Act.  This law allows ESAs to travel in the air cabin of the plane during flights. Some airlines have restrictions as to the types of animals allowed in the cabin. Many airlines now only allow cats and dogs.

The second law is the Fair Housing Act which requires landlords and housing communities to provide “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. They can not deny housing because a tenant or potential homeowner has an emotional support animal.

How to get an Emotional Support Animal Before the Hurricane Strikes: CertaPet’s Simple 5 min Process

You can easily get an emotional support animal by first taking the CertaPet 5 minute pre-screening to see if you have a qualifying disability. At the end of the screening, CertaPet will put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional.

The LMHP will evaluate your case, and if they see fit, you can have your emotional support letter within 48 hours. If you need help during the hurricane, you can always contact CertaPet.

The Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal with You During Scary Times

Having your emotional support animal by your side during an evacuation, even if it’s just to a well-built house further inland, can be super beneficial for your mental health.

An emotional support animal helps you feel less alone and more secure. Storms, in general, can be triggers for those who have PTSD, and an emotional support animal can provide relief and comfort.

The Calming Comfort of an ESA 

Emotional support animals help reduce some of the stress and anxiety that a hurricane causes. When a big hurricane comes barreling towards your home in Georgia or the Florida panhandle, and the National Hurricane Center tells you to evacuate, it naturally causes worry.

Hotels, evacuation shelters, and other temporary housing needed during an evacuation are not required to allow pets, even emotional support animals, but are more likely to bend the rules and accept ESAs than traditional pets.

When a natural disaster hits, services like the County Sheriff’s Office and the Samaritan’s Purse will help with preparation and even set up recovery bases for you and your ESA to safely stay in.

dogs in car ready for hurricane season georgia

Hurricane Season Georgia: Know Your Hurricane Categories! 

Hurricanes are categorized from one to five, depending on how strong the winds will be when they make landfall. Category one storms are between 74-96 mph or 4-82 kph, and category five storms are 157 mph or 252 kmh or higher.

Storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Season and either strengthen or weaken as they get closer to land depending on factors like the barometric pressure and ocean temperatures.

They can be predictable or make a big bend towards land unexpectedly. The gusty winds can create perfect conditions for tornado watches and cause fallen trees and power outages.

Storms 101: Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones! 

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are the same storm, but with different names depending on where they form and where they will hit.

Be Prepared! NHC and NOAA: Hurricane Tracking Made Easy! 

The National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration track storms as they turn into hurricanes and predict their trajectory.

They want to give people as much time as possible to prepare for a hurricane so they can board up their homes and evacuate if necessary.

When is Hurricane Season in Georgia?

Hurricane season in Georgia is typically from June 1st to November 30th. Hurricanes hitting Georgia can form in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Seas.

4 of the Worst Hurricanes that Hit the U.S. in Recent Years! 

Hurricane Michael was one of the world’s largest hurricanes to make landfall on the United States according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle on Wednesday afternoon and continued to strengthen into Thursday morning.

When Hurricane Michael hit, the winds were 155 mph, just two mph shy of being a category five hurricane. Many people in Southwest Georgia in Seminole County and Florida in Gadsden County had no power for days.

Search and rescue teams were sent to look for missing persons in the areas affected by these damaging winds and storm surges. One of the casualties of the storm was a Georgia girl named Sarah Radney who was killed by a portable carport uprooted from the storm by gusty winds.

Hurricane Florence Georgia 

Hurricane Florence was the “wettest” storm to hit the Carolinas. It was only a category one storm when it hit, but had large amounts of rain. Fifty people died, and thousands of homes were damaged.

Hurricane Irma Georgia 

Hurricane Irma hit South Florida as a category five hurricane but downgraded to a category one storm as it made landfall in Georgia. Ninety-seven people died, and the clean-up cost $51 billion.

Hurricane Maria Georgia 

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a category five hurricane and killed over 3,000 people in the area. It caused power outages and deadly mudslides.

Hurricane Harvey Georgia 

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas as a category four hurricane, destroying many homes and caused intense flooding. Eighty-nine people died, and there was $127 billion in damages.

emotional support dog sad for georgia evacuation hurricane

Have Your Dog Emergency Kit Ready for When Those Gulf Winds Pick Up! 

When a Georgia hurricane comes your way, it’s essential to have your dog emergency kit ready. An emergency management kit will keep you prepared and your pet safe.

When hurricanes start coming your way, the grocery stores begin to run out of supplies, and the roads get busy. If you have your kit ready to go, you can evacuate earlier and make sure you don’t run out of the necessities.

10 Things to Have in Your Pet’s Kit 

  1. ESA Letter
  2. Disposable bags or waste pickup (litter box for cats and birds)
  3. Medical Records and veterinary information
  4. Dog food, water, and bowls
  5. Pet first aid
  6. Harness and leash
  7. Blankets, toys, crate/carrier (disposable liners)
  8. Photo of your dog
  9. List of local pet-friendly accommodations (you probably won’t have power internet for a while)
  10. Stress and anxiety-relieving supplements (CBD oil works great)
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Make Sure Your Pets Have Clear Identification! 

It’s important to make sure your pets have clear identification. Their tag should have a current phone number, address, and any urgent medical needs. Add their information (and yours) to their crate or carrier as well!

The best and most reliable form of ID is, of course, a microchip. It can’t be lost or damaged during the chaos of a hurricane.

Stay Safe and Do NOT Leave Your Pet/ESA Behind! 

Many pets are lost and killed during storms as they are left behind by their families. They are scared, alone, vulnerable, and have no place to escape to.

Find a pet-friendly hotel or shelter, or friend/relative they can stay with during the storm. There are many resources to help keep both you and your pets safe during natural disasters.

emotional support animal and pet left behind during georgia hurricane season

Traveling with ESAs During a Georgia Hurricane: How to Get Connected with a LMHP in Your State Today! 

CertaPet a free 5 min pre-screening! If the results indicate you may qualify for an ESA, we will put you in contact with a licensed mental health professional in your state, and you can have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hours.

Common Questions on Traveling with ESAS during a Georgia Hurricane

What should I have in my pet’s emergency kit? 

Can ESAs stay in hotels that do not allow dogs?

How can I make sure people know how to contact me if my dog and I get separated?

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