RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is preparing for Hurricane Isaias to have a potential impact on the commonwealth. COVID-19 has forced the department to make some changes to its hurricane plans.
Jason Elmore, Deputy Director of External Affairs with VDEM, said the department has made several changes to its Hurricane Evacuation Guide to reflect the coronavirus pandemic.
With Hurricane Isaias on the way toward the U.S., some of those changes might take effect.
The department is taking a close look at Coastal Virginia if the impact falls there.
“We’ve been having conference calls with our localities in the Hampton Roads area, trying to find out what type of needs they may have,” Elmore said. Many areas of Hampton Roads are in evacuation zones.
If a hurricane hits Virginia, evacuation plans would be impacted because of COVID-19.
VDEM said evacuating to a public shelter should be a last resort if you are not able to stay with family, friends or in a hotel room. If you do find yourself in need of a public shelter, space will likely be limited.
“We’re going to have to maintain social distancing in these shelters which is going to lower the total number of people that can be in a shelter,” Elmore said.
The state is working with localities on emergency sheltering options. Elmore said that as of Friday, no shelters have been activated. He said the best thing to do is stay updated with your specific locality.
Another change VDEM is urging Virginians to make is adding some new items to your emergency kit to stay protected against coronavirus. “Whether you’re adding your face coverings, your hand sanitizer, your disinfectant wipes”,” Elmore said.
VDEM is also reminding residents to be careful during any hurricane clean-up. They recommend wearing protective clothing, appropriate face masks if cleaning mold or other debris and maintaining physical distance while working with someone else.
Click here for more information on how to prepare for hurricanes.
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