Florida Reevaluates Hurricane Response Plans Due to COVID-19
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is revisiting hurricane response plans in light of the potential continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins in a little over a month, so the state faces a likelihood that its hurricane response efforts might need to be adjusted this year compared to prior years.
In the past, the state has been able to host large numbers of evacuees at public facilities such as schools. COVID-19 might render this impractical, prompting consideration of using more shelters (potentially including dedicated COVID-19 shelters) or even other types of facilities such as hotels.
Florida also might encounter new logistical concerns, such as needing to equip emergency response personnel, volunteers in shelters and other with personal protective equipment (PPE). This would continue to put pressure on PPE supplies.
The state also is assessing the potential impact of a reduction in volunteers. Florida reportedly has as many as 10,000 volunteers following hurricanes. However, COVID-19 could result in few people being willing or able to serve, altering the state’s plans for how it delivers services after an event.