May 3rd - 9th Hurricane Preparedness Week Amid COVID19 Pandemic

May 3rd - 9th Hurricane Preparedness Week Amid COVID19 Pandemic

May 3rd - 9th Hurricane Preparedness Week Amid COVID19 Pandemic Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 05 May 2020 18:16

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - The 2020 Hurricane season starts June 1st and ends November 30th. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments and citizens will have to factor in plans to evacuate while also practicing social distancing.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently declared May 3rd through the 9th, as Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Cooper explained May 3rd, "North Carolina knows all too well the damage and disruption that hurricanes can bring, but being prepared can help people fare better and recover quicker," and, "Especially with COVID-19 affecting everyone’s daily lives, now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready this hurricane season."

Cooper urged families to discuss their emergency plans, update their emergency supplies, and review their homeowners and renter’s insurance policies.

Citizens are also encouraged to consider how COVID-19 may alter plans for hurricane season.

According to State officials, when considering your evacuation planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, a plan to stay at a hotel, or with friends or family who live farther inland are better options than relying on a large emergency shelter. Be sure to include items in your preparedness kit like hand sanitizer, face masks, copies of your health insurance cards and documents and your medications. If you do evacuate, be sure to check in with family members, or an emergency contact, to let them know where you are.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry explained, "North Carolina is getting ready for hurricane season even in the midst of a pandemic," and,"We have responded to simultaneous disasters in the past and will work with our local partners to do so again if needed."

According to State officials, the most dangerous threats from hurricanes and tropical storms are flooding and storm surge. During this hurricane season, North Carolina is introducing "Know Your Zone", a tiered evacuation system that highlights areas most vulnerable to storm surge from hurricanes and tropical storms, and other hazards. If it becomes necessary, local officials will order evacuations using pre-determined zones created by coastal counties. The Know Your Zone lookup tool is a new color-coded interactive map you can use to determine the evacuation zone where you live, work, or are visiting based upon street address.

Flood insurance is one of the best ways to prepare for flooding.

Sprayberry explained, "Homeowners with flood insurance experience faster recoveries," and, "Flood insurance is key to recovering quicker and with more resilience."

Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks explained, "Preparing for an emergency is an easy and simple way to help protect you and your loved ones when a disaster strikes."

He explained, "By having an emergency supply kit with enough non-perishable food and water to last each person three to seven days, you’ll be ready for aftermath of a storm when you may be without power, water or other essential services."

Essential items for your emergency kit include:
• Food/water for every member of your family for several days
• Copies of insurance cards/papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
• First-aid kit
• Weather radio and batteries
• Prescription medicines
• Sleeping bag or blankets
• Changes of clothes
• Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
• Cash
• Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, muzzle and vaccination records
• Hand sanitizer
• Face masks

During storms, people should stay tuned into a trusted local news source and keep a battery-powered radio nearby for weather and evacuation information. They also need to heed the warnings of state and local officials and evacuate quickly when told to do so.

More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness can be found on the ReadyNC website at www.ReadyNC.org

During hurricanes, most people are told to evacuate or stock up on supplies and stay at home. No help during a storm. First responders will not likely risk their lives during a storm when they've already told people to evacuate. 

Keith Acree, Public Information Officer for North Carolina Emergency Management under NC Department of Public Safety explained on Tuesday, "The response to COVID-19 and a hurricane response would largely draw on different resources.  The COVID-19 response is focused on medical personnel and personal protective equipment. A hurricane response typically draws on resources like search and rescue, sheltering and food/water. At the local level, counties that operate shelters are thinking about what sheltering would look like in a COVID-19 environment where social distancing needs to be observed. They are considering options that avoid congregate shelters with many people together in large open spaces like gyms."

Carolina Beach Town Manager Bruce Oakley explained, "We have had some informal "what if”" conversations but have not started planning for the possibility yet. As we start prepping for hurricane season it will definitely be included in the planning and discussions. We will also work with our partners at the County and Kure to make sure we all are on the same page."

Kure Beach Councilman David Heglar - Emergency Manager for the Town - explained, "In a high level way - yes it is being considered.  As far as guidance or details - the town’s hurricane planning process starts in late April, for approval of any plan changes at the May/June meetings.  This issue has been highlighted to the County and State for their thoughts/inputs - but have not received any guidance at this time."

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