SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -
The peak of hurricane season for the state of Florida is in August and September, and under a global pandemic it has created challenges for leaders across the Suncoast.
“We’re going to request that everyone wear a mask. We’re going to space people out on that bus as much as possible. For evacuation centers, there is going to be some type of screening that will take place, and we’re working with the health department on that,” says Ed McCrane, Emergency Management Chief of Sarasota County.
Along with the essentials that are in a typical hurricane supply kit it is important to include masks, sanitizer and disinfectants to fight against the spread of the coronavirus. Residents are encouraged to begin gathering their supplies now.
In the event that you need to evacuate, reach out to a family member and look tens of miles instead of hundreds of miles for a safe place to stay. However, shelters across the Suncoast will be available for those who have nowhere to go. In order to abide by the CDC guidelines on social distancing the capacity for each shelter will be significantly lower.
“We went from 20 square feet per person in a general population shelter to 60 square feet trying to work the social distancing. So, that brought us to roughly a 35% decrease on the amount of space available,” states Steve Litschauer Emergency Management Chief of Manatee County.
While Sarasota County is going from using 20 square feet per person to 40 square feet per person. “The amount of space could be more than that in some cases depending on how many people show up at that particular facility.”
Beds are becoming scarce at many hospitals across the state of Florida as a result of the rise in patients experiencing coronavirus symptoms. However, local hospitals are also adjusting to the ongoing pandemic to ensure that those who need to be hospitalized during a hurricane will have a bed and the required medical attention.
The President and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Hospital states, “What is going on today is probably going to be different two days from now, because we have such a dynamic situation. But we are making sure that we are open and available for this community and that we can take care of you if you are sick, and we are here to do that.”
Details regarding shelters in Sarasota County
Sarasota County evacuation centers should be a last resort. If it is safe, stay with family and friends or shelter in place at home. Know your home and know your level.
Evacuees will be screened upon arrival to Sarasota County evacuation centers.
Maintaining social distancing guidelines, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently will be important while in evacuation centers.
In order to maintain social distancing, 40 square feet is planned for most evacuees. Medically Dependent Evacuation Centers will be allowing 60 square feet for each evacuee and caregiver.
Evacuees will sleep in a head-to-toe pattern when possible.
Sarasota County has 11 General Population and up to three medically dependent evacuation centers that will be used for a major hurricane.
Evacuation center information will be updated on the county’s website (scgov.net) and on the county’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. To request a pickup from your residence to a local shelter you must request it online ahead of time.
The 11 evacuation centers are the total for general population and will open simultaneously, rather than a phased opening as in years past.
Details regarding shelters in Manatee County
Manatee County evacuation centers should be a last resort. If it is safe, stay with family and friends or shelter in place at home. Know the structure of your home, along with the level of evacuation.
In order to maintain social distancing, 60 square feet is planned for most evacuees. Medically Dependent Evacuation Centers will be allowing additional space for each evacuee and caregiver.
Evacuees will be screened upon arrival to Manatee County evacuation centers.
Manatee County has 24 General Population and a medically dependent evacuation center that will be used for a major hurricane. and will continue a phased opening as in years past.
Evacuation center information will be updated on the county’s website (mymanatee.org) and on the county’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. To request a pickup from your residence to a local shelter you must request it online ahead of time.
Food will be distributed in a food container instead of the usual buffet style setting.