With the 2020 hurricane season beginning on June 1 in the middle of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that you take extra precautions when considering hurricane preparedness for you and your pet during Covid-19.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has forecasted a 60% chance of an above-normal season, with only a 30% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below normal-season. According to their forecast, there will be 13 to 19 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5) with winds of 111 miles or higher. Already, before the official season has begun, there have been 2 named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha (which has, as of this writing, just formed off the coast of South Carolina). Obviously, and unfortunately, this is going to be a very active hurricane season.
The era of high activity storms began in 1995. This year, the above-normal activity is due a number of different factors including warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the southern Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean. In addition, there will be an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which means El Nino will not be present to suppress storm activity by increasing atmospheric stability. Finally, NOAA predicts reduced vertical wind shear. Vertical wind shear can pull a hurricane apart and increase the chances that the storm will dissipate because it is spread over a larger area.
How Covid-19 Impacts Disaster Plans for You and Your Pet
For general information on how to get ready for upcoming weather events with your pet, visit Petswelcome’s guide to Hurricane Emergency Preparedness. This year, however, due to Covid-19, there are other factors you will need to take into consideration. These include decisions about protecting your home, the supplies you pack for an eventual evacuation, as well as how and where you shelter.
Protecting Your Home
Obviously Covid has had a huge health and economic impact on households and businesses across the nation. With unemployment at a record high and families slashing budgets just to make ends meet, decisions such as whether to maintain home insurance that will cover natural disasters (vs. paying out of pocket for repairs) will loom large. Also, finding or affording basic supplies for protecting and/or repairing your home, items that in normal times are easily had, may become another potential hurtle.
These considerations should now be part of your plan for hurricane preparedness for you and your pet during Covid-19. Sit down with your family and weigh the costs of insurance vs. potential repair costs and/or rebuilding. Decide what supplies you will most likely need and can afford and work to secure them as soon as possible. While the deliberations might be painful and even lead to unsatisfactory outcomes–We just cannot afford insurance!–the act of discussing it will lead to other clarifications, insights and actions that will give you a greater peace of mind and security down the line.
Disaster Supply Checklist
The shortage of available supplies due to Covid-19 becomes particularly acute when you’re planning what to take with you during an evacuation. This is especially true when it comes to Personal Protection Equipment such as masks and gloves and other essentials, including sanitary wipes and hand lotions. Remember how hard they were to secure when the pandemic first broke out? Times that by 10 when a hurricane is looming in your area. Now is the time to make sure you have a reliable supply to get you through the storm season (without hoarding, of course).
With regard to pets, the supply checklist is not really impacted by Covid-19, though you might want to give extra consideration to microchips, as they cannot get lost or fall off during the emergency. Be sure to review our the Disaster Supply Checklist for Pets, which is part of the CASEY (Caring for Animals Safety in Emergencies during the Year) Plan from the Humane Society of the United States.
Perhaps the biggest change when considering hurricane preparedness during Covid-19 for you and your pet is how and where to shelter in case evacuation becomes essential. The old days of packing a lot of people into gymnasiums or inside crowded arenas is no longer a viable option.
The focus will now be on non-congregate sheltering where families can be separated in their own rooms to maintain effective social distancing and avoid exposure to the virus. The demand for such shelters is expected to be much higher than in previous years because, in order to sustain the benefits of quarantining, people will less likely stay with their extended family that live beyond the impact of the storm.
Many emergency management directors in states such as Florida are working with FEMA to make changes so that congregate shelters only accept people infected with Covid in order not to increase the spread during emergencies. They are hoping to be able to screen people using Covid-19 rapid tests, temperature checks and/or signs of coughing and shortness of breath.
Even in the best of times, emergency professionals consider emergency shelters (as opposed to hotels, for example) a last resort. This is even more valid during the pandemic. Still, in some places, they will be available. In Lee County, FL, evacuation pet shelters will be open for people with cats and dogs. However, they will only accept families affected by mandatory evacuation orders and the shelters cannot be reserved ahead of time.
Due to these new restrictions, hotels will become the most viable way to shelter if you have to leave your home because of a hurricane. And, because the demand will be high, it is even more important to make plans now before the storm hits.
Use Petswelcome’s Pet Friendly Hotels Near Me to find the right hotel for you. Or use our Emergency Route Planner to create an evacuation route to the pet-friendly hotel of your choice. It will provide driving directions, as well as other pet friendly hotels and shelters along the way, and can be saved on mobile devices for use during evacuation.
We are living in very difficult times. And the idea of being hit by another devastating event of top of the current pandemic seems almost unthinkable. But with astute planning and sober determination, you can chart a safe path so that your whole family will get to enjoy the brighter days that surely lie ahead.