ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coronavirus is changing how we prepare for this year’s hurricane season.
I reached out to Emergency Managers in every county in our area and no matter where you live, the message is the same: this year will not be like other hurricane seasons.
We are in a pandemic and it’s a stressful time.
We get it.
That’s why our team of meteorologists has been working on getting you the information you need to be ready without spreading fear.
We know thinking about hurricanes is overwhelming considering everything else we are going through right now.
Taking time to prepare now can prevent the last-minute panic we’ve seen in past years.
Let’s go through three main points:
MAKE SEVERAL PLANS
Have several plans and plan early. Will you evacuate or will you shelter at home?
Evacuations are for people who live in areas threatened by a storm surge and for people who live in manufactured or mobile homes.
If you must evacuate, you are encouraged to stay with family or friends who live outside of the evacuation area. You don't need to drive to another state, just far enough away to be out of the evacuated area.
Consider several backup plans. If someone you were planning on staying with gets sick, you will need to go somewhere else.
Keep in mind that as we go through the summer, CDC guidelines about COVID-19 might change.
It’s a fluid situation. What works in June may not work in August or September. Plans and procedures could change. That’s why having several options is better than just one plan.
CHANGES TO SHELTERS
A shelter should be your last resort.
Shelters are typically loud and crowded but the Coronavirus will change how many people are allowed in a shelter.
More space will be needed to ensure proper social distancing.
Schools have previously been used as public shelters. This year, hotels and county buildings are being considered in some counties to cut back on the number of people in one place.
Shelters will require masks and there may be temperature checks.
NEW ITEMS IN YOUR HURRICANE KIT
When it comes to a hurricane supply kit, you’ll need to start gathering items earlier if you can.
It's an even bigger challenge this year because so many families are struggling to pay the bills.
Also, supplies are limited because of the Coronavirus so they may be harder to find.
This year in addition to food, water, medical supplies, flashlights, and batteries, consider adding masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to your kit.
If you evacuate and choose to stay with friends or other family members, you may need to wear a mask. In shelters, masks will be required. Plan to bring your own because counties have limited supplies.
Putting together a hurricane kit can be overwhelming. Look at the recommended list https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/weather/hurricane-center/Hurricane-Supply-Checklist-Storm-Season and determine what your family needs.
It’s a good idea to consider how you can build your kit a little at a time.
Stores are limiting the number of items you can buy at one time and if you shop online, items may be unavailable.
You can save some money by purchasing some items during the next few days. The sales tax holiday for select hurricane supplies continues through Thursday, June 4.
We also need to be sensitive to the fact that with so many people out of work, building a hurricane kit is just impossible for some families this year.
During the next few weeks, our team will be sharing more information with you. For now, you can learn more about hurricane preparations, such as how to secure your home and how to keep your pets safe, by visiting the Hurricane section of our website: https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/weather/hurricane-center