CEMA, Salvation Army prepare for hurricane season in midst of a pandemic

WSAV Hurricane Central

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – It is difficult to think about natural disasters when our country is dealing with a pandemic. However, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency wants to help families prepare now for hurricane season.

The week of March 3 to March 9 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. The goal is to encourage families to gather supplies in advance, learn their evacuation zones, and make an emergency plan. Chelsea Sawyer, CEMA’s Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, said this is now significantly more challenging in the world of COVID-19.

“Many people don’t feel comfortable going to the grocery store. There are some people that don’t mind going to the store, but they get there and realize that a lot of the nonperishable goods that we recommend having in hurricane season aren’t readily available. (…) It’s challenging to create an emergency kit to have all these items in the future if you don’t have them right now,” said Sawyer.

The CEMA coordinator said their evacuation system will have to change to maintain social distancing, sanitize shelters, and prevent overcrowding on buses.

“I would imagine we would have to start a little bit earlier. We’d have to make sure people came at certain times so they’re able to spread out a little bit further,” said Major Paul Egan, a corps officer with Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army works alongside CEMA in the event of an evacuation. Major Egan told News 3, he has seen an increase in the number of people who need help and who are financially struggling. He encourages these people to make smarter financial decisions.

Sawyer said the more tough questions that families ask and answer now, the better off they will be once hurricane season begins. These include: “where are we going to go? Are we going to rely on public transportation or are we going to try to find our own transportation out of Chatham County?”

Sawyer said, “start having those conversations, that doesn’t cost you anything. Start thinking through that process and being ready, and I promise, it will make things just a little bit easier.”

For more information on hurricane preparedness, click here.

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