Mother Nature Won’t Pause for Coronavirus: Preparing for Hurricane Season 2020

Our attention has naturally been focused on the coronavirus crisis. So, it seems that hurricane season 2020 snuck up on us. Unfortunately, Mother Nature won’t necessarily give us a break just because we have been dealing with the coronavirus. As a matter of fact, experts predict hurricane season 2020 could be particularly brutal. And, regardless of the overall season, it only takes one storm affecting our area to make for a personally nightmarish hurricane season in 2020. This is not meant to bring more tough news, but to remind everyone to make preparations. Fortunately, with hurricanes, we can plan ahead and mitigate much of the risk.

The 2020 Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1st. Now is the time to begin planning. We will share some of the reasons preparation for hurricane season will be a bit different in 2020, thanks to the impacts of COVID-19. However, many of the preparation steps will be the same as in any year. Our team will share resources so you and your family can be prepared.

What is different about preparing for hurricane season 2020?

Supplies

It will likely take longer and be more difficult to procure your hurricane supplies. Items like paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizers and disinfectants have been in short supply. Most of us won’t have the luxury of running out one day and picking up everything we need. And, of course, shopping itself takes special effort and precautions nowadays, especially for our vulnerable citizens.

The Florida 2020 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs Friday, May 29, 2020 through Thursday, June 4, 2020. Qualifying items related to disaster prep will be tax exempt on these days. More information will be coming soon and we will update that here. However, as mentioned above, you may not want to wait in light of shortages and shopping challenges. It may only be worthwhile for bigger ticket items like portable generators.

We always recommend elders and those with health conditions get a two-week supply of medications for hurricane season. They should also evaluate any medical equipment and management needs. While this advice is the same anytime, preparing may take a bit more creativity with limitations in medical appointments and access. Fortunately, this can all be accomplished with telehealth and various resources. Our team is here to assist you in getting what you need.

Evacuation Options and Emergency Response

You may face more limited evacuation options and alternatives because of coronavirus precautions. Right now, travel and mobility are restricted. For high-risk individuals, crowded shelters rarely make sense except as a last resort. Now, this is even more true.

For the last few years, Florida hurricane experts have been leaning toward more of a “shelter in place” (and prepare to do so safely) model anyway. But, they will likely be moving more strongly to this advice in light of the coronavirus. Additionally, officials are exploring options such as hotels for emergency shelters instead of schools where people are crowded together. The state is looking at creative solutions, such as using ride-sharing services rather than buses for evacuations. Like everything else, disaster preparedness must adapt to the “new normal”.

Often, the families we work with decide that the best option is to evacuate elderly loved ones to their homes during a hurricane. When exploring this possibility, it is vital to be prepared for what it means to have your loved one living with you. Even if they are out of the risky zone for hurricanes, the change of routine and moving require careful planning. You have to set up the right environment for them and have what they need. Now you have added factors to consider with looking at minimizing exposure and balancing the needs of multiple family members who may be doing work and school from home also. Just as we have been helping families who have thought about moving parents home from care facilities during coronavirus, we can help you evaluate this option and prepare.

Follow EasyLiving’s Facebook page to be sure you get our latest updates about Florida Hurricane Season 2020, from the tax holiday to changes in state recommendations and resources.

Planning for Hurricane Season 2020: You Always Need The Basics

No matter which hurricane season, you always need to follow the basic procedures for planning. This is particularly necessary for elders and those with medical conditions or mobility issues, and their caregivers

Where to start?

Schedule a hurricane planning appointment with our experts today. We can get started with a video or phone consultation to assess your needs and create a plan. Especially in light of some of the factors mentioned above, we suggest booking your appointment today to get started.

You can read more in our post Here’s the Proper Way to Plan for a Hurricane. We understand you might be feeling a bit of “crisis fatigue”. But, don’t let that leave you unprepared for the 2020 hurricane season. With the added complications this year, now is the time to begin putting plans into place and stocking supplies. Our team can help with everything from evaluating your safety to shelter in place to setting up evacuation plans and backup care, to stocking you with supplies.

Download our free hurricane supply checklist, including a special pet preparedness checklist for those with furry friends.

If you’re caring for someone with dementia, you may also want to check out our post about considerations for dementia care during hurricane season.

FAQs about 2020 Hurricane Planning and Coronavirus

Q. Should I evacuate if a hurricane comes this year?
A. The greatest threat to life from a hurricane is storm surge flooding, so if you are in an ordered evacuation zone, low-lying flood area or in a mobile home, the life-safety risk of a hurricane will be greater than the risk of COVID-19 exposure. On the other hand, if you are not in an ordered evacuation zone, low-lying flood prone area, mobile home or unsafe structure, then it may be safer to stay in your home. Always heed the advice and orders of local officials during a storm. As we have shared, this decision also depends a lot on your specific situation, such as your care and medical needs. Remember that services may be cut off for some time even in minor storms.

Q. How do I know if my home is strong enough to shelter in during a hurricane?
A. If you are in an evacuation zone that is ordered to evacuate by local authorities or in a flood zone, you should evacuate no matter what. If you are not in any of these areas, then it may be safer for you to stay in your home. While it is the responsibility of the homeowner to know if their home is strong enough to withstand a hurricane, generally homes built after 2002 include features that make them more resilient to hurricanes. There are also improvements you can make to your home to strengthen it against future storms (see below).

Q. What can I do to make my home stronger?
A. The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it's important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. Learn more by visiting this site: https://floridadisaster.org/planprepare/secure-your-home/

Q. How will I know if I’m ordered to evacuate?
A. Monitor local news and pay attention to alerts from authorities. Evacuation zones are designated from A to F. Generally, Zone A is most vulnerable and most likely to be evacuated first, and Zone F is most likely to be evacuated last. Take the time now to find out which zone you are in and remember to pay attention to local authorities during a storm to find out if an evacuation is ordered.

Q. If I need to evacuate or stay in a shelter, what should I bring with me?
A. In addition to the supplies that you would normally bring, make sure that you have hand sanitizer, masks and other materials to protect yourself from COVID-19.

Q. If I need to evacuate my home will I have to stay in a public shelter?
A. If you need to evacuate, your safest and easiest option may be to stay with friends or family who live outside the evacuation zone or in a stronger house. Check with nearby friends and family now and have a plan in place for what to do if you are ordered to evacuate. Shelters should be a last resort at all times, but this may be especially relevant when coronavirus remains a concern.

Q. If I need to stay in a shelter, will I be exposed to COVID-19?
A. The state has been working with CDC, FEMA, and the American Red Cross to develop guidance for counties ahead of the 2020 Hurricane Season. This includes non-congregate sheltering plans, maintaining 6 feet social distancing between families, taking temperatures and screening individuals prior to entry, routine cleaning and disinfecting, and designated isolation areas in case an individual in the shelter becomes ill.

Q. Will shelters be different this year?
A. Non-congregate sheltering will be used when possible. Overall, the CDC is encouraging every county to use smaller shelters of less than 50 people when possible. Regardless of the number of people in a shelter, the CDC and American Red Cross recommend a minimum of 60 square feet per person. The state is recommending that counties screen all clients before entering. If rapid testing is available, it should be used. The state also sent out a statewide survey to hotels to gauge how many businesses would be interested in providing non-congregate sheltering is a hurricane were to threaten a community. It's important to note, the 200 hotels who responded to the survey are not actively sheltering individuals. They expressed interest in providing sheltering during the upcoming hurricane season. All decisions regarding sheltering during a storm will be decided by local county emergency management.