With hurricane season less than two months away, officials in South Carolina said they don’t yet have a good plan in place if a storm hits during the coronavirus outbreak, particularly for people potentially displaced from their homes in the aftermath.
During a media briefing on the outbreak last week, Kim Stenson, director of the state Emergency Management Division, said his agency is still working to configure solutions for how to potentially handle thousands of evacuees in an age of social distancing.
“That’s a good question, in terms of how we have to do that, and quite frankly, we haven’t gotten to that point where we develop good plans to do that,” Stenson said. “It’s definitely going to have to be some work done between now and later into hurricane season. It’s on the radar, we just don’t have the solutions for it right now.”
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, although Stenson pointed out that the state typically isn’t impacted until later in the season. According to the National Weather Service, most hurricanes affecting South Carolina have historically occurred later, from August through October, but there have also been “fairly active” periods as early as May. The earliest hurricane to impact the area was recorded nearly 70 years ago, in February 1952.
Forecasters also note a “general increasing trend” of hurricanes either before June or after October, possibly because of better observation and record keeping.
With social distancing guidelines in place, Stenson said, the issue of how to shelter those displaced during hurricanes is being discussed now by officials who annually come up with plans for each storm season. As it is during the coronavirus outbreak, Stenson’s agency acts as a statewide clearinghouse for coordination of emergency response during hurricanes, a centralized hub for the tracking of shelters and resources, as well as the dissemination of information to media and the public at large.
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