NEW ORLEANS — This year’s hurricane season comes at a time when the people of Louisiana and Mississippi are already on alert. The coronavirus risk has forced residents and local governments to change their hurricane plans and prepare for two possible emergencies at once.
To help you plan, WGNO chief meteorologist Hank Allen and meteorologist Scot Pilie’ discuss the hurricane season in WGNO’s special report Hurricane Season 2020: Your Questions Answered.
They address the question on everyone’s mind: how the coronavirus will change planning for hurricanes. On an individual level, you should add masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to your hurricane kits. If you plan to evacuate on your own, check what the coronavirus conditions are at your destination.
If you will use public assisted evacuations or shelters, be ready for some changes. Emergency planners from around the region tell us that coronavirus protocols will be in effect for a public assisted evacuation.
Social distancing means there will be more space between people in the shelters, which could require parishes to open more shelters. Buses may make more trips because they can not carry as many passengers. And, workers will check temperatures before letting people board a bus or enter a shelter.
Emergency planners say these added procedures will cause public assisted evacuations to take longer and may push up the time when they start. They also say people should not be afraid to evacuate because of the coronavirus protocols. If someone has a fever or is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they have a plan to evacuate and shelter that person.
Hank and Scot also hear from experts at the National Hurricane Center about what we should expect from this year’s hurricane season, which has a high chance of being above normal.
WGNO’s special report Hurricane Season 2020: Your Questions Answered airs on WGNO and WGNO.com.