Pandemic brings more planning to hurricane prep
The first seven months on the job have been a learning curve, to put it mildly, for Clint Moore, director of the Iberville Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Two months into the job, the coronavirus pandemic put him at the forefront with other parish officials on ways to safeguard the population against the spread of COVID-19. Now, it plays into plans for what is often the busiest time of the year for emergency preparedness officials.
The months of August and September traditionally figure as the most active period in hurricane season for the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes Andrew, Betsy, Camille, Gustav, Isaac, Katrina and Rita – among the worst ever in the region – all struck the Gulf Coast region between late summer and early fall.
While it’s customary to stock up on food, batteries, water and flashlights during that cycle, the pandemic adds a new wrinkle into the preparation mode, Moore said.
“As far as getting into the peak season, nothing changes in terms of the items you should have around, but now that preparation kit should include items such as masks and hand sanitizers,” he said.
Those items likely seem unusual to most residents, but the situation is tougher for Moore, who must oversee shelter protocols that allow for what has become part of life during a pandemic.
“We have to comply with social distancing in the sheltering process, and that’s a challenge because it means different locations and separate sites for those who tested positive,” he said. “The process has become much more involved – and this is all in my first seven months on the job.”
Guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control include some of the obvious coronavirus protocol, such as face coverings and to avoid sharing food and drink with anyone if possible. In addition, the CDC urges residents to avoid touching “high touch” surfaces such as handrails as much as possible.
For further guidelines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/covid-19/public-disaster-shelter-during-covid.html.