Authorities in the southern United States are continuing to adjust their plans for the hurricane season as the new coronavirus pandemic persists. The big question is: where will people fleeing the storms go?
In McIntosh County, Georgia, director of Emergency Management Ty Poppell said evacuations during the pandemic will be a “nightmare,” and that he was concerned about the social distancing in shelters and buses where people would be transferred.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1, although tropical storms Arthur and Bertha were very early. Experts expect a more active season than usual.
“Everything we do will be affected, in one way or another, by COVID-19,” said Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Many counties are receiving federal advice and hope to use hotels as smaller-scale shelters. Others plan to use more schools and gyms.
The 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 three days ago that the Federal Government will ensure that state and local authorities can manage the hurricanes. “In a nutshell, Mr. President, we’re ready.”
However, those who study disasters are not so sure.