Wednesday, 24 June 2020 15:25

Amid pandemic, hurricane preparation looks different this year

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Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston to aid citizens in areas of the city that became flooded when Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain over the region. Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston to aid citizens in areas of the city that became flooded when Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain over the region. Photo courtesy of the Houston and Community Development Department’s Facebook page and Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD.

 

The devastating flood waters of Hurricane Harvey overtook Houston and forced many residents to evacuate their homes and find refuge in shelters.

Three years later, as Houstonians ready themselves for another hurricane season, they must do so during a pandemic. 

“The public needs to understand that their planning may be different this year, because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” said Cory Stottlemyer, public information officer for the city’s Office of Emergency Management. 

While the idea of preparing for hurricane season during a pandemic might seem daunting, there are steps you can take to keep you and your family safe from both COVID-19 and potential storms.  

Here are a few tips about how to prepare for the 2020 hurricane season from the Office of Emergency Management and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

Give yourself more time to gather supplies. Schedule home delivery of emergency food, water and medicine supplies.

If that’s not an option, be sure to practice recommended CDC social distancing guidelines while doing in-person shopping. 

Limit in-person visits to the pharmacy. Find out if your pharmacy offers mail- order delivery of prescriptions, curbside, or drive-thru pick up.

City employees on a Cigna city health plan can opt for Cigna Home Delivery of certain prescriptions at no cost. Check with your pharmacy to see if it’s in the Cigna Network.  

Prepare a go-kit. The potential need to evacuate during a weather emergency is a reality.

Pack items you can’t do without such as important documents, a phone charger, a portable first- aid kit, snacks, and bottled water.

Documents should be kept in a waterproof bag. Also, include items to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 such as hand sanitizer, bar or liquid soap, and two cloth face coverings per person. Keep in mind face coverings are not recommended for children under the age of 2. 

Be aware of OEM’s updated plans for evacuations and shelters. Take into consideration the specific needs of your family, including shelters that take pets. 

Also, pay close attention to new guidelines and procedures in response to COVID-19. 

Get emergency alerts in real time. The OEM encourages all residents to register with Alert Houston, the city’s notification system.

Residents who register can opt-in to receive emergency alerts through email, text message, voice call, or mobile app push notifications.   

Smartphone users can download the Everbridge app free of charge from the Apple or Android app store. 

Most alerts are geo-targeted. Subscribers with loved ones around the city may register up to five physical addresses per contact record. 

To learn more about hurricane preparedness during a pandemic, log on to houstonoem.org. You can also follow @AlertHouston and @houstonoem