Coronavirus Tips: Preparing for Hurricane Season During a Pandemic

This week's storms showed the importance of being ready in case of severe weather

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Thankfully, the weather has cooperated since the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Unfortunately, the quiet weather won’t last and we are already seeing signs of a more active pattern shaping up across the country. Last weekend, devastating tornadoes ripped through Dixie Alley.

Surveys are still being conducted by the National Weather Service, but so far there have been nearly 80 confirmed tornadoes between April 12 and 13. We saw pictures and video of community shelters filled with up with people riding out the storm while trying to maintain social distancing measures.

Hurricane season begins June 1. While the forecast is for an active season, it only takes one storm to make landfall during a “quiet” season to be devasting. Even if the forecast was for a quiet season, I’d still recommend being prepared.

Now is the time to make those preparations and mitigate the threat of a hurricane or other severe weather. Yes, this past Monday’s high wind event was a good example of how weather can quickly exacerbate the challenges of the pandemic, but unfortunately, it can be a lot worse.

The last several big wind events have ended with hundreds of thousands of power outages in the commonwealth and the thought of a New England hurricane is still a concern that keeps me up at night.

At least 33 people are dead and dozen dozen more are wounded after a string of tornadoes tore a path from the Deep South to the East Coast on Easter Sunday. The devastation stretches across multiple states, where homes and business were left in ruins. Mississippi was especially hard hit, with damage reported across nearly the entire state.

How can you prepare? Here are some tips:

· Keep your pantry stocked with non-perishable foods.

· Have batteries to power your flashlights – and know where your
flashlights and batteries are!

· Purchase a couple of portable chargers for your cell phones and
have them ready to go in case of a power outage.

· Ensure your medications are current. Many people have already
done this because of the pandemic, but you also want to have enough on hand to carry you through in case you won’t be able to get to a pharmacy for a few days.

· Get an arborist to look at any trees in your yard or
surrounding your house which might need branches trimmed. Every time I cover the aftermath of severe storms and talk with tree trimmers, they always say it’s a lot cheaper and easier to do preventative maintenance on your trees than to have to clean up damaged trees after a storm – not to mention having a branch or tree fall on your home or car will cause some extra headaches for you in the cleanup process.

· Know where your safe place is in your home. It should be away
from windows and the lowest floor possible.

· Find your evacuation route if you live near the coast. Make
sure you can get from point a to point b without GPS. In the case of technological infrastructure failure or overload it might not work.

Lindsey Mandyam and her baby were "in it together" when Mandyam had to give birth alone during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you live in a flood -prone area (near a river that can flood or at the coast), make sure you aren’t leaving yourself vulnerable. Have a plan to protect yourself/your families and pets, your home and your belongings. “Protecting” could mean everything from making sure your sump-pump is working and has a battery backup, to making sure your valuables are kept out of the most vulnerable parts of your home, to knowing where all of your important papers are, i.e. social security cards, birth certificates, insurance papers, etc. It’s also a good idea to keep these documents in a fireproof box (which is also waterproof).

I know we have a lot to be concerned about right now and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or feel anxious, but remember that following preventative measures now can help prevent future panic. Don’t hoard, be smart, stay healthy and don’t forget to find joy even in dark times.

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