CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The COVID-19 pandemic is making preparations for hurricane season a little different this year. On Thursday, Governor Henry McMaster shared his state wide strategy after meeting with leaders across the state, including Charleston County leaders.
This planning is crucial as the National Hurricane Center is expecting above-average activity this year predicting between 6 and hurricanes, with three to six of them being major storms.
Preparing is always a challenge, but this year there are other obstacles making the whole process even more difficult:
“This is a challenging time for us, but we must be ready for these hurricanes because we have seen them before, we are highly experienced in our coordination, collaboration, and communication among all of these various capacities in the State, but these are a lot of challenges coming at one time.”Governor Henry McMaster
One of those challenges is COVID-19, putting new hurdles in front of those trying to get ahead of the storm. Jason Patno, the Director of the Charleston County Emergency Management Division, says they are taking the virus into account and adjusting the county’s plan as needed:
“We’ve been in conversations, with you know, our non-profit organizations that assist in our shelters, uh as well as our local partners and our state partners, to talk about how we can still operate a hurricane shelter as last resort, while following the recommended guidance for social distancing, personal protective equipment and other recommended guidance from the CDC in our shelters.”Jason Patno, Director of Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division
At the state level, social distancing is top of mind as all plans are put together this hurricane season.
“Make social distancing a part of your every aspect of hurricane planning.”Kim Stenson, SCEMD Director
But even in these new times, the old rules ring true: take advantage of the time you have now so you’re not paying for it later:
“We’re asking, every year, but now so more than ever, to really take prepardness seriously, prepare yourselves, prepare your family, prepare your home, be ready, when and if the time comes.”Jason Patno, Director of Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division
Knowing where to go will be changing slightly this hurricane season, as the state is adjusting the I-26 reversal plan to start 15 miles farther outside of Charleston near the Nexton Parkway just outside of Summerville.
WATCH GOV. MCMASTER’S FULL PRESS CONFERENCE