FEMA discusses hurricane season changes amid COVID-19 crisis
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Atlantic hurricane season is already breaking records with several storms named so early this year. With parts of the U.S. battling the wrath of the coronavirus pandemic, experts urge you not to delay in preparing.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor explains how disaster plans are adjusting amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“We’re going to need more space. We’re going to need more time to actually put people into these shelters, we’re going to have to screen them for coronavirus,” said Gaynor.
Gaynor also tells DC Correspondent Alana Austin that FEMA will be using more digital tools and social media to reduce face-to-face contact with storm victims.
“Typically in a normal disaster, we would flood the impacted zone,” explained Gaynor. “Can we do more virtual registrations? Can we do damage assessments with drive-by in a car and take photos and not really come into contact with everyone? We’re going to embrace live-streaming of damage.”
At the end of the day, Gaynor says local and state leaders are steering plans on the ground, while FEMA is there for support.
“Ask those critical questions of your local officials to make sure that they’re doing everything, to make sure they keep you and your community safe,” implored Gaynor.
Gaynor says there’s a record amount of disaster funds on hand heading into a hurricane season, to the tune of $80 billion dolllars. The question is whether this will be enough as state and local governments have been facing financial pressures in these times.
"Local governments have already been strained by the coronavirus and are now facing not just funding shortfalls, but resource shortfalls beyond just money," said Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R).
Rubio says the Sunshine State is well-positioned to respond to this hurricane season, but he says it’s important you do your part to be ready.
“If you think it’s tough getting through Home Depot or any of those stores when hurricanes threaten, it’s going to be even harder when you have to stand six feet apart,” said Rubio.
Experts say include hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies in your emergency kit, plan now if you live in an evacuate zone. If you are in a flood-prone neighborhood, FEMA says you may want to consider staying with family or friends outside an evacuation zone as you may be more comfortable there than the emergency sheltering options. You may also visit Ready.gov or download the FEMA app for more information.
Meantime, surges of Saharan dust are spreading across the U.S. this week. This may inhibit the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes – at least for right now. However, experts say there’s still a long way to go before we hit the anticipated peak of hurricane season, so you still want to be on alert.
Copyright 2020 Gray DC. All rights reserved.