(The Center Square) – The COVID-19 pandemic makes things harder when it comes to hurricane preparation in South Carolina, a hurricanes expert said.
Susan Cutter, a Carolina Distinguished Professor and the director of both the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute and the IRDR International Centre of Excellence on Vulnerability and Resilience Metrics at the University of South Carolina, said hurricane preparation during a pandemic means more supplies are needed in preparing.
"It makes household preparation more complex because health considerations are necessary to consider – not only for your own household but those family (and) friends' households where you might evacuate to," Cutter said in an interview with The Center Square.
Cutter said extra supplies need to be taken into account.
"Additional supplies need to be taken – face masks, disinfectant wipes, additional medicines," Cutter said. "Is there sufficient space with family or friends – the preferred option for most people – considering social distancing and concern for exposing the virus to elderly parents and grandparents."
Cutter said hurricane preparation during the pandemic also takes more time.
"(It) adds time to the preparation that many folks are not thinking about. It also adds some additional costs that some may not be able to bear," Cutter said. "(It) also requires making decisions about where to go and when."
Cutter suggested families in areas that are known to get hurricanes should start preparing immediately.
"Households living in hurricane-prone areas need to prepare now; get a plan, start getting supplies and keep an eye on the weather," Cutter said.
Before the official start of the 2020 hurricane season, one storm already had made landfall – Tropical Storm Bertha – which has many scrambling to make sure they're prepared for hurricanes during the pandemic, according to The Times and Democrat.
The state's Emergency Management Division Director Kim Stenson told the news outlet residents needed to have a plan in place. Some county officials, such as Charleston County spokeswoman Kelsey Barlow, told the news outlet that in future budget meetings, the discussion of personal protective equipment needed to be included in hurricane planning.
"Since COVID-19 didn't exist when the budget was developed for the current fiscal year, we did not account for purchasing PPE as a part of our hurricane planning," Barlow told The Times and Democrat. "Moving forward, this is something we will take into consideration in future budget years."