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State hurricane plan changes amid COVID-19 concerns

Adjustments have been made to the Emergency Hurricane Plan.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Coronavirus has changed a lot for people, government, businesses and so on.

As tropical storm Gonzalo forms in the Atlantic, Street Squad checked in with South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) to see what changes the pandemic brings to our Statewide Hurricane Plan

RELATED: Gonzalo expected to become the first hurricane in the Atlantic this season

“With hurricane season coming at the same time that we’re dealing with a pandemic with COVID19, we’ve had to make some adjustments to the state’s hurricane planning, particularly on the sheltering part of it," Chief of Public Information and External Affairs for SCEMD Derrec Becker told Street Squad. 

Becker says they’ve been working with the Department of Social Services as well as the Red Cross and this year there will be much less people in many more shelters across the state, "simply to allow for social distancing, places for people to isolate and that sort of thing.”

Becker says that because of this, they are encouraging people to use shelters as a last resort. “You want to make plans to stay with friends, family, a hotel far inland, but you should think of going to a shelter as the absolute last place to go so make that plan now.”

RELATED: Hurricane lane reversal exercises completed Thursday

Mass transportation will be changed as well. Contracted buses ordinarily will go to the coast and pick up people who don’t have the means to leave themselves. Because of COVID19, fewer people can now be on the buses meaning more buses will need to be used. 

“What does that mean overall for the state’s hurricane planning?" Becker tells Street Squad, "Well it means that the state’s hurricane evacuation might come a little sooner than we’ve seen in years past. It means that people at home, particularly on the coast, need to prepare a lot sooner and to factor COVID-19 and coronavirus into all of their emergency planning.”

RELATED: Preparing for Hurricane Season during a pandemic

SCEMD recommends you download their mobile app to get all of their important notifications and information.

If you have any story ideas or information on things happening around town, contact us at StreetSquad@wltx.com or tweet us using the hashtag #StreetSquad19.