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Sheltering during a storm may mean taking Ubers to hotels, asking people to stay at home

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Source: Panama City News Herald

If a hurricane threatens this season, some evacuation requests may be replaced by stay-at-home orders as officials struggle to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said he will have a plan this month that outlines guidance for counties on how they may want to handle storms differently to contain infections.

Details could include requiring people in hurricane-fortified homes to stay put through a storm.

During an April task force call, Moskowitz says that if there’s a Cat 1 or Cat 2 storm, they may issue a stay-at-home orders instead of an evacuation order to homeowners whose houses were built after Hurricane Andrew.

With hurricane season beginning June 1, emergency managers are considering how they will manage a storm while avoiding a “crush of people in shelters, crowded onto evacuation buses and in need of aid – already stretched thin – after a storm.”

Some options Moskowitz noted could include using FEMA’s transitional sheltering assistance program before a storm makes landfall to put people in hotels instead of opening schools where it could be difficult to maintain social distancing.

If mass shelters must be opened, evacuees may have their temperatures taken or undergo rapid coronavirus testing at the door. Moskowitz said the state is already working with Abbott Labs and others to get additional tests for shelters.

With an expected lack of volunteers coming from other states, Moskowitz also suggested paying out-of-work Floridians to fill the void after a storm.

Also being considered are hiring ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to ferry people out of harm’s way instead of loading them onto mass transportation, and issuing gas cards to residents suffering pandemic-triggered unemployment.

At the same time, Florida Power & Light is warning customers it may take extra time to restore electricity with the possibility of limited help from outside resources and the added precautions of social distancing. For more information, visit Panama City News Herald.

Hurricane season is approaching once again and it’s essential to prepare before a disaster strikes especially if you live in hurricane-prone areas. Today you can determine your personal hurricane risk, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and review/update insurance policies. You can also make a list of hurricane emergency supplies and start thinking about how to prepare your home the season.

Keep in mind that when it comes to insurance, every homeowner’s policy is different, so it’s critical for someone to review your policy who knows what to look for, so you can understand what you do and do not have coverage for.

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