As the 2020 hurricane season coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, evacuees can expect additional protocols within shelters.
Recently, Tonya Hyacinth, Ministry of Education representative on the Shelter Management Committee of the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA), shared some of the new rules on a local televised programme. These include wearing of masks while at shelters, frequent sanitization and washing of hands, as well as health checks when entering the shelters.
Apart from cough etiquette, persons at the shelters will be expected to adopt other hygienic practices. “There will be no sharing of utensils and we are asking evacuees to walk with their own utensils; drinking cups, plates, knives, etc.,” Hyacinth explained.
She noted that there will be staggering of mealtimes and other activities, to avoid crowding.
Further, Hyacinth noted that the usual 3-foot-spacing at shelters for sleeping accommodations has now changed to 6-feet. For people who are in wheelchairs which calls for a little more space, there will be a 7-foot-distancing.
Within the shelters, families who live in the same home will be allowed to stay together.
Additionally, there will be an isolation area for persons who may fall ill while at the shelters.
The hurricane season started in June, but according to Hyacinth, while the shelter inspection process is completed, Cabinet is yet to approve the new list of hurricane shelters so that it can be publicized.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is forecasted to be very active with 19-25 named storms. Of those storms, between 6 and 10 are likely to become hurricanes, and between 3 and 6 of those hurricanes could become major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5).
August 14 saw the formation of the 11th tropical storm of the season – Tropical Storm Kyle, which fortunately, dissipated during this week.