Why COVID-19 Means You Should Stock Up For Hurricane Season Now


For weeks, emergency preparedness officials in Nova Scotia have been trying to find the best way to cope with an extremely active hurricane season while respecting public health rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In progress.“It’s definitely a challenge,” said Jason Mew, director of incident management at the province’s Emergency Management Office.

EMO is responsible for contingency planning and for coordinating emergency response with municipalities, utilities and emergency groups like the Red Cross.

If a hurricane hits the province this year, the response will be quite different from that of post-tropical storm Dorian that ravaged Nova Scotia last year, Mew said.

Emergency shelters with physical distance

Shelters to house people homeless by a storm will need more space than ever to accommodate physical distancing rules. The Red Cross is setting up and managing emergency shelters in the province.

“Instead of being able to put everyone at the Canada Games Center like we did for Dorian, we may have to look at two or three venues to accommodate the same number of people,” said Ancel Langille, the director. Principal of Emergency Management for the Red Cross in Atlantic Canada.

In 2019, more than 125 people used the emergency shelter at the Canada Games Center in Halifax after being displaced by Dorian. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

Making sure people in multiple places have food and water as well as beds and blankets takes a lot of planning.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of lifting, a lot of moving to make sure the evacuees have what they need to be as comfortable as possible during the time they are going to be away from home.” , Langille said.

Langille said people who come to a shelter will likely be asked if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Those who do will be refused due to the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Mew said if this were to happen, the Department of Health and Wellness will be contacted and people with symptoms of COVID-19 will be offered a place to self-isolate.

“Health and wellness would work together with their experts and they could rent a few rooms in a hotel or they could find a facility where you can isolate people in separate rooms,” Mew said.

Power lines fell across the province during Dorian, causing widespread blackouts that affected 400,000 Nova Scotia Power customers at the height of the storm. (Eric Woolliscroft / CBC)

Red Cross volunteers in shelters will also be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks. The same will be true of the Salvation Army volunteers, which help provide food and water to people during disasters.

In an email, Public Safety Canada said there is no major shortage in the supply of PPE in the country at present.

And the Red Cross and The Salvation Army have both said they have more than enough volunteers ready to help in times of disaster. During Dorian, the Red Cross had around 65 volunteers to help around 180 people displaced by the storm. In Nova Scotia, there are currently 276 volunteers ready.

Maritime generosity “shines brightly”

It’s a similar story with The Salvation Army, where people are eager to help despite their fears about COVID-19.

“This is where the generosity, support and caring for others, which is a natural trait of the Maritimes, really comes in and it shines brightly,” said Major Jamie Locke, Carrier. word of the Salvation Army in the Maritimes.

The EMO Provincial Coordination Center is the emergency decision-making center for Nova Scotia during a natural disaster. (Submitted by Jason Mew)

But Locke said the Salvation Army had to carefully select who would be on the front line, taking into account people’s pre-existing health issues and the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Volunteers who cannot meet in person will still be able to help remotely, he said.

If people’s homes are damaged by a storm, there should be no delay in processing insurance claims, according to Amanda Dean, vice president of Atlantic at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

She said adjusters who inspect and assess property damage will be fitted with PPE and follow public health rules when meeting with clients. Since filing a claim is mostly done over the phone, Dean said there should be no delays in service.

A large tree fell on Grand Lake Road in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality during post-tropical storm Dorian in September 2019 (Tom Ayers / CBC)

The only problem she predicts is whether Nova Scotia is hit by a storm as strong or stronger than Hurricane Juan. If so, the damage could be so severe that out-of-province adjusters would likely have to be brought in to help. And getting them to a hurricane-ravaged area could slow down the entire claims process.

Dean says during Dorian there was enough adjusters in Nova Scotia to inspect all damage.

Each group highlighted how important it is for the public to stock up on non-perishable food, water and other supplies like batteries and propane before a hurricane is expected in the area.

This should help avoid long lines in stores as people try to stock up just before a storm hits or right after it ends.

In this 2019 file photo, people displaced by Dorian receive lunch from Salvation Army volunteers at an emergency shelter. (Aly Thomson / CBC)

Langille said it was difficult to plan to help those in need while keeping your distance.

“I volunteered, and the reward is touching someone, that feeling that I helped that person today, I put this blanket around their shoulder,” he said. “It’s really a different mindset. ”



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