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

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bridge broken by hurricane in mississippi

Having a plan for how to look after yourself and your emotional support animal (ESA) during an emergency is essential! If you need to evacuate to a safer location, so do they! Being faced with a serious storm warning is stressful enough. Knowing what to do with your ESA in a Mississippi hurricane will help give you some peace of mind if you are ever in this situation.


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

So what is a mandatory evacuation? If you live in an area under evacuation orders, it means there is a significant risk to the safety of people and property. Both you and your emotional support dog or cat will need to move to a safer location until the storm or hurricane is over.

There are some areas or zones where people are especially at risk during a major Mississippi hurricane or another emergency. Storm surge from a tropical storm affects coastal areas in particular.

In Mississippi, storm surge can affect cities on the coast such as Gulfport and Biloxi. Urban and rural areas in Harrison County, Hancock County, and Jackson County are also at risk. Mississippi hurricanes don’t just affect the coast. The strong winds and flash flooding from a tropical storm or cyclone can reach up to 100 miles inland.

Any of these areas may be subject to evacuation orders following a tropical storm warning. A unified command center will usually issue instructions to people in the community.

If you are unable to stay with friends or family in other safer locations, there will be shelters and evacuation routes specific to where you live. Find out in advance which shelters and accommodation are animal or pet-friendly. This will save you the worry of finding a place to stay with or for your emotional support animal at the last minute.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has a wealth of information on their website, on how to be prepared.

evacuation zone mandatory evacuation shelter sign hurricane mississippi

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

Many shelters will open their doors to both people and their animals during an emergency. However many are unable to, and they are not obliged to take pets or ESAs. An emotional support animal letter confirms that your animal provides a form of assistance to you.

Know Your Rights! The 2 Vital Emotional Support Animal Laws

There are two laws that protect emotional support animals. They give you protection for having an emotional support animal with you when you are traveling by plane and in rental accommodation.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA): This Act protects your right to live with an emotional support animal in rented residential accommodation. A landlord or property owner cannot refuse a tenant on the basis they have an emotional support animal.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): Under this Act, you can fly with your emotional support animal on a commercial airline free of charge. Airlines do have their own animal policies and procedures to follow. You will also usually need to give a carrier at least 48 hours’ notice you wish to fly with an ESA.

In both of these situations, you will usually need to supply documentary proof you qualify for an emotional support animal. CertaPet helps you get your ESA letter!

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

Having the paperwork in order before an emergency or mandatory evacuation is obviously going to make things a little easier. If a Mississippi hurricane is already on the way, our service is always available. Reach out to us – we have people online who can help.

Our process at CertaPet is simple:

  • First, complete our free online pre-screening. This takes about 5 minutes. If your answers indicate you may qualify for an emotional support animal, we will then ask you if you wish to proceed.
  • After that, we connect you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This person will undertake a full assessment, and establish that you may benefit from an emotional support animal. You can have your ESA letter in as little as 48 hrs.

ESAs benefit people with an emotional or psychological condition. Animals have therapeutic value for conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorder.

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

Emotional support animals provide comfort to the people they live with. While the animals themselves do not have any specific training to do their “job”, their very presence can help with the scary stuff in life.

The Calming Comfort of an ESA

Most people with emotional support animals have a dog or cat, or the occasional rabbit. The important thing is that it’s an animal that a person feels connected to. There is a sense of comfort from having their animal around.

This is the support that can be needed even more so during the frightening experience of a storm. There is reassurance for both you and your emotional support animal if you have located a safe place for you both to be during an evacuation or storm.

two dogs in car ready for hurricane season mississippi

Hurricane Season Mississippi: Know Your Hurricane Categories!

Hurricane ratings go from a scale of 1 to 5 based on wind speed. A Category 5 hurricane has the highest wind gust and can cause the most serious damage with winds over 157 miles per hour. A category 1 hurricane with winds between 96 to 110 miles per hour can uplift trees, mobile homes, and vehicles, and result in flooding.

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

In terms of weather patterns, tropical storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are all the same. High winds, heavy rain, and thunderstorms come inland from the ocean. The different names refer to their locations.

A tropical depression upgrades to a cyclone when it reaches winds between 39 to 73 miles per hour. After that, storms with winds over 74 miles per hour are named differently depending on which ocean they originate in.

Hurricanes affect the North Atlantic, and central and eastern North Pacific regions. Typhoons affect the Northwest Pacific. The same types of storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific are called tropical cyclones.

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

Keep updated when storms or hurricanes are near. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) both provide regular information and tracking.

In Mississippi, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency also runs an emergency preparedness week in May every year. Check out their guidance on how to prepare yourself, your home, and your pets for an emergency during the Mississippi hurricane system.

When is Hurricane Season in Mississippi?

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. The peak months for tropical storms and hurricane warnings are usually August and September.


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

Those in Coastal Mississippi are well aware of the devastation that a Mississippi hurricane can bring. The effects of Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, resulted in major losses to many Mississippians on the coast.

Hurricane Florence Mississippi

Over 50 people lost their lives during Hurricane Florence in September 2018. The main areas this category 4 hurricane affected were the Carolinas, the Florida coast, and Virginia.

Hurricane Irma Mississippi

Across the United States, over 90 people died, and over six million people evacuated during Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Irma was a category 5 hurricane and hit Florida, Georgia, Central, and South America.

Hurricane Maria Mississippi

Hurricane Maria was the deadliest hurricane in recent years. Over 3,000 people in Puerto Rico died. This category 5 major hurricane also made landfall on the coast of Florida and North Carolina.

Hurricane Harvey Mississippi

Over 100 people died during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. This Category 4 hurricane mainly hit Texas and caused billions of dollars of damage.

emotional support dog sad for mississippi evacuation hurricane

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

Get an emergency kit together for a Mississippi hurricane evacuation ahead of time. This should include the essentials your emotional support animal needs. Natural disaster and emergency preparedness isn’t just about power outages, storm window installation, and flood insurance for flood damage caused by water and inches of rain!

The advice for most emergency kits, for people and animals, is to have enough supplies to last three to five days away from home. Then keep it in a location that is easy for you to get to at short notice.

8 Things to Have in Your Pet’s Kit

  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Medications and a copy of their vaccination record
  • Pet carrier and/or leads and harnesses
  • List of shelters or other accommodations that are animal-friendly
  • A photo of yourself and your emotional support animal in case you separate
  • A toy or blanket they are familiar with
  • Your ESA letter
  • Calming supplements such as CBD oil for dogs
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Make Sure Your Pets Have Clear Identification!

If you have a dog ensure they are wearing a collar with emergency contact information. Include on the tag their name, your name, and a cell phone number to contact you. Have the same information on pet carriers for other animals. Even better, ensure your emotional support animal has a microchip.

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

Safety is the number one priority! If you evacuate from your home, do not leave any pets or emotional support animals behind.

The strength of a hurricane wind is deadly. Animals can become trapped, injured, or die. The damage caused to houses during a Mississippi hurricane can result in pets escaping and becoming lost.

Plan ahead of time. Know the animal-friendly places to go during the Mississippi hurricane season if you need to evacuate.

emotional support animal left behind during mississippi hurricane season

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

If you need to relocate with your emotional support animal during an emergency, having the paperwork to verify your eligibility for your animal is one less thing to worry about.

We then facilitate your connection with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in Mississippi. Don’t worry if you are already on the road or away from your usual home, as this can be done via video.

Common Questions on traveling with ESAs during a Mississippi Hurricane

Should I leave my emotional support animal at home?

What is the law on flying with an emotional support animal?

What identification should an emotional support animal have?

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