Authorities in the southern United States continue to adjust their plans for the hurricane season that begins as the coronavirus crisis continues. The big question is where will people fleeing storms go?
The Associated Press surveyed more than 70 counties and states, from Texas to Virginia, and more than 60% of coastal counties said in late May that they were still consolidating plans for public hurricane shelters. This is being altered with preparations to care for the sick and elderly, protective equipment and cleaning costs.
In McIntosh County, Georgia, the director of the Emergency Management Agency, Ty Poppell, said evictions during the pandemic will be a “nightmare.” He was concerned about social distancing in shelters and on buses where people are moved.RELATED
Hurricane season officially begins Monday, although tropical storms Arthur and Bertha arrived early. Climate experts expect a more hectic season than normal.
“Everything we do will be affected in one way or another by COVID-19,” said Florida Emergency Management agency director Jared Moskowitz.
Many counties are receiving federal advice and hope to use hotels as smaller-scale shelters, while others plan to use more parts of schools in addition to gyms.
Authorities have said shelters are the last resort and urge people to stay with friends or in hotels. But mass unemployment is making hotel spending less feasible.
Vice President Mike Pence told President Donald Trump on Thursday that the federal government will ensure that state and local authorities can handle hurricanes. “In a nutshell, Mr. President, we are ready.”
But those who study disasters are not so sure.