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MARY MEAUX — Hurricane season prep will be different under COVID-19

As the state is working in phases on reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many unknowns.

Coupled with that is the fact that hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, is quickly approaching. But tropical disturbances do not pay mind to the calendar, as there is already the potential for subtropical development this weekend northeast of the Bahamas, according to the National Weather Service.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone, and it doesn’t mean a storm will be formed or even impact Southeast Texas.

What is does mean is now is time to prep for hurricane season while minding any COVID-19 precautions.

The Houston Office of Emergency Management addressed some of these issues, which can be applied in our area.

  • Understand your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
  • Give yourself more time than usual to prepare emergency food, water and medicine supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect yourself and others’ health when running essential errands.
  • Protect yourself and others when filling prescriptions by limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order delivery or call in your prescription ahead of time and use drive-through windows or curbside pickup.
  • If you need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap if not available, and two cloth face coverings for each person. Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations such as staying at least six feet or about two arms’ lengths from others.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to announce the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season outlook on May 21.

The Weather Channel released its outlook for the Atlantic in mid-April, saying there would be 18 named storms, nine of which would be hurricanes and four of those would be major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

It only takes one of these storms to cause damage, so now is the time to prepare.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.