Officials Fear Double Disaster -- Coronavirus Plus Hurricanes

Florida’s U.S. senators have called on the federal government to issue guidelines.
April 15, 2020

Florida’s U.S. senators have called on the federal government to issue guidelines on how states should handle evacuations and storm shelters in the event of a hurricane, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

With less than two months to go until the tropics reach the conditions that forecasters expect will generate an above-average storm season, government officials and local politicians are rushing to prepare for what Broward County Mayor Dale Holness described as a “double disaster” of a hurricane strike amid a COVID-19 outbreak.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans, wrote a letter to FEMA Director Peter Gaynor asking him to issue guidance to state and local governments about how they should prepare for a hurricane while social distancing measures are in place.

“We ask that you take into account how to properly evacuate and shelter those who either have, or are suspected to have, the coronavirus in the event of a storm” the senators wrote. “Consistent and sound guidance will be crucial to saving lives during a natural disaster.”

Meanwhile, storms and tornadoes cut across six states over the weekend, leaving widespread damage in their wake. More than 30 people died — including at least 11 in Mississippi, nine in South Carolina, and eight in Georgia — making it one of the most significant natural disasters in the country since government officials began ordering people to stay home and away from one another in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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