Grand Strand leaders say Bertha should be wake-up call to get ready for hurricane season

Coronavirus impacts how families prepare for hurricane season

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - With two named tropical storms before the official start of hurricane season, leaders across the Grand Strand say now is the time to get ready.

“Of course with the COVID-19 pandemic, that is something we really haven’t seen, any area of the country, anywhere in the world where you’ve had to deal with a pandemic potentially on top of a hurricane season," Horry County Emergency Management spokesperson Thomas Bell said.

He also said while it’s too early to tell which specific storms will impact the Grand Strand this season, or how many we will get, your preparations need to start now.

“What we can say, is that it’s definitely going to look a little different than years past,” Bell said.

He added that while two preseason named storms doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a terrible hurricane season, he said with coronavirus still present, families and the county will need to prepare differently.

“What needs to be changed in terms of keeping that physical distancing if you’re in a shelter? Or do we maybe need to look at evacuation times being a bit longer knowing that we might have to put people in different places?" he said.

Myrtle Beach city spokesperson Mark Kruea said, despite coronavirus, city leaders still been able to plan and prepare.

“It’s been a little bit busier than usual this year, certainly there have been other things that have occupied our attention, but we’re always getting ready for hurricane season,” Kruea said.

North Myrtle Beach spokesperson Pat Dowling admits, coronavirus has impacted revenue streams for the upcoming budget.

“As we get into budget discussions we may have to add a little money to hurricane activities that was depleted during the COVID-19 emergency initially," Dowling said.

Horry County Emergency Management said while FEMA usually reimburses local governments for certain things when it comes to hurricane season, the coronavirus could potentially change that as well, adding supplies to the list.

“Okay we had to get supplies for cots and maybe food at the shelters maybe there’s a line item for PPE as well,” Bell said listing examples.

He also said that right now, people just need to remember how quickly things can change when it comes to both coronavirus and hurricanes.

“With the virus that’s going around this year as we saw, no one could have predicted that coming. You have to remain flexible. Look at your emergency plan, look at the supplies your household would need. Think about where you would go for an evacuation. Think about that now so if we do see a stronger storm, or more severe impacts, later on in the fall or wherever that might be, you are already ready, you have a backup plan, you have a back up plan," Bell said

Bell added that while containing the coronavirus will be crucial when a severe hurricane hits, it’ll be treated as the most pressing threat.

He also suggests having evacuation plans and back up plans ready now in case that location becomes a coronavirus hot spot or if you can no longer stay with relatives who are elderly or have a compromised immune system.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.