Empty shelves and supply hoarders are new dilemmas to most shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic, but to Florida residents, the feeling is similar to the yearly reality of hurricane season. As phased openings have resulted in a surge in positive cases around the state and country, the likelihood of new stay-at-home orders, and consequently, more empty shelves, has become greater. This without an impending major storm about.
From June 1 to November 30, the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an “above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season. Their predictions have held up thus far, with three named storms already forming in the Atlantic and impacting the U.S, two of them before the season even officially began.
The question becomes: How do we prepare when these two natural disasters collide?
Stock Emergency Supplies Early
One of our main preparation needs is gathering supplies that will assist in weathering out a storm. Inventory shortages are a regular occurrence during COVID-19, so acquiring supplies early will help shoppers avoid missing out on crucial items. Preparing in advance will also help in avoiding the large crowds, high traffic, and panic that are inevitable once an impending storm is confirmed. In addition to our new-normal of disinfectant supplies, masks, and gloves, the Department of Homeland Security recommendations for hurricane emergency supplies include:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
The supplies above can be important while residents weather through and recover after a storm. However, similar to shopping practices during COVID-19, shoppers should never take more than they need. Hoarding supplies inevitably leaves some without basic essentials and makes the distribution of supplies more difficult.
Have a Plan
DHS also recommends people set up a hurricane plan for their families. Unfortunately, the usual tradition of inviting friends and family over in large groups to weather out the storm together is not advisable when social distancing is still recommended. Therefore, you should set up a hurricane plan involving those within your immediate household. Points that your plan should cover include:
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
- Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?
- Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update my emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
- Get cloth face coverings (for everyone over 2 years old) and disinfectant cleaners.
Additionally, if your family has any special needs or requirements that may be difficult to accommodate during a hurricane, include those in your plan as well. If you do choose to shelter with others, consider a post hurricane quarantine regimen.
These suggestions are not an exhaustive list, but they should be helpful in preparing for hurricane season 2020 amidst the realities of COVID-19. The possibility that a pandemic and a natural disaster will collide, feels more like a level in Jumanji, than reality. Nonetheless, these tips will help us keep our homes and our loved ones safe so we can be ready to face whatever challenge (or level) comes next.
About the Author
Carolina Perez Schmerold is an Associate at Mase Mebane. Carolina has worked at some of the top local litigation firms in South Florida and focuses on handling legal matters in a wide variety of practice areas including business law, labor and employment litigation.