Coronavirus and hurricane season: Tampa Bay prepares for double disaster

Hurricane

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane season is just weeks away and emergency management agencies in Tampa Bay are having to prepare for more than just a potentially busy season.

Emergency Management officials in Hillsborough County are adjusting their hurricane plans with the pandemic in mind.

“You have to make adjustments to your plan to meet the situation in front of us. So, we have plans for hurricane season. Now, we just have to take those plans, take a look at them in light of COVID, and say how do we need to adapt and overcome to achieve a positive response,” said Iñaki Rezola, Operations section Chief with Hillsborough County.

During a hurricane, Emergency Operations ramp up, and leaders have to plan for evacuations, transporting people, and providing shelter for those who have nowhere else to go.

With the threat of the coronavirus, a big concern is trying to prevent the virus from spreading.

County officials are looking at alotting more time and space to help.

“We’re looking at everything in terms of do we start evacuations earlier, to give people more time. Do we look at creating additional spacing and shelters, to create more physical distancing. What kind of safety checks do we have to put in place,” said Rezola.

Hurricane season starts June 1 and county leaders are urging residents to be prepared with an evacuation plan and at least a weeks worth of food.

Experts are projecting an active 2020 hurricane season.

During an average season, you expect to see six hurricanes and twelve named storms.

One reason for the increased risk is the fact that sea surface temperatures have been much warmer than normal.

Meteorologists say storm systems feed off of warmer water.

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