Hurricane season and YOU; consider COVID-19 in your hurricane plan

Local News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Despite COVID-19 the impact of hurricane season, if a storm travels our way will still be the same. But the pandemic will have an impact on how we prepare for a storm.

South Carolina has been responding to a silent storm since March, when the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the state. Now agencies are preparing to respond to a hurricane.

“Anyone in South Carolina knows this state is vulnerable to storms, specifically hurricanes,” said Ben Williamson with the American Red Cross.

The SC Emergency Management Division has updated its procedures in response to COVID-19. The division acts as a resource and information hub during states of emergency and often has hundreds of people in the operations center at one time.

Derrec Becker with SCEMD explained the changes. “We’ll have screens, protective barriers between the computer stations, so they’ll a seat apart that 6 feet. They’ll have their temperature taken anytime they come in the building, and there will be a screening process.”

When it comes to your preparation, emergency management wants you to consider 4 words.

“Time. Space. People. Place. The time to plan is now. The more time you spend around people you don’t live with increases your chances of contracting the virus. Space. 6 feet,” added Becker.

If you have to leave your home the American Red Cross is prioritizing non-congregate shelters, like hotels and dorms to encourage social distancing. But if a mass evacuation is ordered plans for traditional shelters have been updated as well.

Williamson continued, “We’re going to be doing screenings at all of our shelters. So CDC approved questions. You’ll be health screened. Your temperature will be taken once you come in. If you have symptoms, you won’t be denied, but there will be isolation sections set up in those shelters.”

SCEMD is also working on a plan to address mass transportation during times of evacuation.
SC Hurricane Preparedness Week starts May 31.

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