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How is COVID-19 impacting state's hurricane response plan?

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Posted at 6:21 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 20:03:04-04

As hurricane season nears, the Office of Emergency Preparedness is evaluating its game plan.

Hurricane season officially starts on June 1, but with a disturbance in the Atlantic, many people are talking about preparing for whatever this season will bring to our area.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, several of you have asked us how COVID-19 will impact the state's response.

"What we don't want to do is to have to change too much on the fly," said Craig Stansbury, the Lafayette Parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Stansbury's office is working with the region and state to get a game plan ahead of time, especially in the coronavirus era.

"There are some things we're going to have to do a little different and prepare for."

Stansbury said they're stocking up on personal protective equipment, sanitizer and disinfectant.

"We're going to have masks available for anyone who would have to get on buses, or we would have to transport," Stansbury said. "We'll have masks for first responders, extra disinfectants. Those are some of the basics that we'll have ready that we maybe normally would not."

Emergency officials are looking at how social distancing will effect how they would bus evacuees and what shelters could look like. Stansbury said it might mean they need to plan for more of each.

"You also have to prepare for if you have a major influx to where you don't have enough space to be able to do that. First and foremost is to save a life," Stansbury said. "Yes, we would like to spread spacing out among busing and staging areas. That would be the first plan, but you also have to plan for if you have too many people and you can't do that. We wouldn't leave someone because we don't have enough spacing. We will try to have more buses than we would before, but we will plan for both situations."

Homeland Security officials encourage you to make a game plan now on what to do if severe weather heads our way.

On the list of preparations is putting together an emergency kit with at least three days of supplies. It should include water, non-perishable food, clothes and a first aid kit and important documents. You're now also asked to bring a mask and extra sanitation essentials.

For a complete list of items that should be in that kit, visit Get-a-Game-Plan.

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