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Preparing for hurricane season during COVID-19

Alan Flurry

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, the South faces another hazard in what experts are predicting to be a more active than normal hurricane season. The University of Georgia’s Marshall Shepherd shares what we need to know about preparing for the brunt of storm season during a global pandemic:

Hurricane season 2020 is already shattering records, and it’s only July.

The average hurricane season has about 12 named storms. Typically, the sixth forms around late August or September. This year’s formed in early July, something Shepherd says is stunning. Experts are predicting up to 20 total storms this season.

“As I often say, it really only takes one bad hurricane in a given year to be memorable,” said Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and director of the UGA’s Atmospheric Sciences Program. “But given the fact that we do suspect a more active season this year, it puts a little bit more value on people being ready and prepared.”

Preparation for storms will look different this year.

People often get what Shepherd calls “hurricane season amnesia.” Having not experienced a powerful storm in a few years, they forget how devastating the impact can be and don’t adequately prepare.

“For me, the most useful aspect of these seasonal predictions is to really start to get people to think about what they would actually have to do if they needed to evacuate and perhaps go to a shelter and have to deal with COVID. I think that there is an extra layer of concern and an extra layer of forethought needed in how people prepare.”

Shepherd suggests adding masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant products to emergency supply kits. Some organizations are dramatically reducing shelter capacity to provide more space for social distancing between families and encouraging people to seek shelter with family members, if possible. But if you do end up evacuating to a shelter, personal protective equipment will be crucial to help prevent sickness. If you can, keep your distance from others who aren’t in your household. But most importantly, wear a mask.

Emphasis added, but much more at the link. Thanks to Dr. Shepherd for being such a dependable public source for critical expertise, especially as the nation confronts multiple, simultaneous challenges.

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