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FEMA Issues New Hurricane Preparedness Guidelines Integrating COVID-19 Preventive Measures

Doubling Down for Safety throughout the 2020 Hurricane Season

This is the third article in an exclusive four-part series on preparing for the 2020 Florida hurricane season amid COVID-19. Look for the final article in the next issue.

Vigilance is key during any hurricane season, but the 2020 season requires it like no other before. Along with the prediction of above-average Atlantic storm activity, Florida residents are still trying to ward off the spread of COVID-19. In a concentrated effort to address the simultaneous threats, FEMA has released new hurricane readiness guidelines tailored to this unprecedented predicament.

In an early May AXIOS interview FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor stated, "We're doing a lot of things that are not necessarily in any playbook that has existed. How do you evacuate people from hurricane zones while maintaining 6 feet of social distancing? How much extra shelter space will be needed to house people who can no longer safely crowd into schools, auditoriums and community centers, and how do you protect the most vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions?”

Gaynor was also quoted as stating that when asked about preparation changes since 2019, he explained that over the last 30 days, FEMA is coordinating with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to strategize evacuation and sheltering protocols to account for social distancing.

Dedicated Ready.gov Hurricane Webpage Features COVID-19 Icons Signifying Updated Readiness Procedures

The Ready.gov hurricane preparedness webpage has been updated to reflect new necessary precautions required in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the categories feature a COVID-19 icon indicating that further planning material is available through hyperlinks to other organizations such as the CDC. Below are some preparedness headings on the webpage with new information.

Make an Emergency Plan

Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent. COVID-19

Other specific plan locations should include:

  • Vehicles (download the Commuter Emergency Plan)

  • Places of worship

  • Sports arenas and playing fields

  • Shopping areas such as malls and retail centers

To develop a plan for different locations, you need to get important information about the organization or building managers’ plans. In some cases if plans are not available, you may have to work with the building manager or other members of the organization to develop or build out plans. Consider the following:

  • How to get local alert or warnings while you are there

  • Building alarm or alert systems

  • Building evacuation plans including alternate exits

  • Building or organization shelter in place plans

  • Supplies you would need for temporary sheltering

Gather Supplies

Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk. COVID-19

The cloth face coverings link details information on proper wear and cleaning such as:

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

  • be secured with ties or ear loops

  • include multiple layers of fabric

  • allow for breathing without restriction

  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk. COVID-19

The cloth face coverings link details information on proper wear and cleaning such as:

Personal Safety

  • If you must go to a community or group shelter remember to follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting yourself and family from COVID-19. COVID-19

  • Be prepared to take cleaning items with you like soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces you may need to touch regularly. COVID-19

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between you and persons not part of your immediate family while at the shelter [by avoiding crowds or gathering in groups] as much as possible. COVID-19

  • Anyone over 2 years old should use a cloth face covering while at these facilities. COVID-19

Florida residents are urged to have several ways to receive alerts and are encouraged to download the FEMA app to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Residents can also sign up for community alerts in their areas. Other alerts are Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) which require no sign-up.

To access the complete 2020 hurricane readiness guidelines visit https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

More before and after hurricane information is available from the team of attorneys at HL Law Group. We have represented thousands of Florida residents with property damage claims. Call us to schedule a free case evaluation at (855) 713-1212 or email us at info@hllawgroup.com.

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