Seventh-grader Brayden Mickle said he found studies that said as many as 50 percent of elderly people with pets said they would stay in their home during a hurricane rather than leave their pet behind.
The problem is, most public evacuation centers don’t allow pets because some people are allergic to them or scared of them, he said.
With the students’ program, those elderly people would be paired with a volunteer. The two would come up with an evacuation plan ahead of time, one that accounts for any pets.
Then, in the event of a hurricane, the volunteer would make sure their elderly partner and their partner’s pets make it out safely.
The team’s adviser, Paula Hobbs, said her students are addressing a real need.
“Some people might ask, ‘Why don’t they just get in the car and leave?” Hobbs said.
This population might not have that option. Some of them might not drive anymore or might not even own a car, Hobbs said. And if they don’t have friends or family in the area, they may have no way out.
These students, too, have to do their research. They’ve already watched a movie about Hurricane Katrina and have learned the parts of a hurricane. Soon, they will be talking to an expert in South Florida who survived Hurricane Andrew.
This year’s project asks students to think on a larger scale.
Last year students had to create products to help senior citizens. This one tackles issues that affect larger populations.
That’s something Jerzie likes.
“I like this project a lot better,” Jerzie said. “We’re actually making a difference throughout the community.”
Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.