Hurricane Preparedness During a Pandemic
Preparing for a hurricane can be a stressful time in any year. But add to that the pandemic environment we are currently in and stress can go through the roof! As we try to keep our roofs intact (both literally and figuratively) let’s look at some of ways the pandemic will make this hurricane season more challenging and what we can do now to prepare.
Hurricane supplies: In addition to the normal things you need in your hurricane kit, think about the supplies you have needed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hand sanitizer, wipes, bleach, face coverings… Stock up with some extras if you can.
Special Needs Registry: If you or someone you know has needs
such as oxygen, medical equipment or other special requirements, register now with your county’s Special Needs Registry. This gives officials important information to use in planning for vulnerable populations as well as allows first responders to provide special assistance during a disaster.
Listen to your local authorities: All disasters are local and every county will have different protocols best suited to their populations, communities and geography. Your local officials have been updating hurricane plans with the pandemic in mind. Listen to your local weather, emergency management and city/county officials. Heed their advice.
Evacuations: Know Your Flood Zone! Evacuations and sheltering will be much different this year.
Sheltering must take into consideration all the guidelines from the Center for Disease Control regarding social distancing, sanitizing areas, COVID-19 testing, etc. Standard congregate sheltering in a school gym, for instance, allows for 20 sq. ft. per shelter guest. Due to COVID-19, that space must now be increased to 110 sq. ft. per person. Hotels and college dorms might be used in some areas to shelter evacuees. Sheltering in place may be encouraged by your authorities if your home
is built to withstand oncoming storms, so
know your building codes and home structure type. But above all, listen to your local officials!
Mass feeding and supply distribution: Feeding people and distributing supplies in disaster affected communities will be much different this year. We may not have the large tent
operations serving thousands of meals each day, but perhaps several smaller food and supply distribution centers.