Emergency systems are already stretched-thin by the virus response and distancing during evacuations will be a challenge SOURCE(S): THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION, TRUST.ORG (TRF)

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

As tropical storm season bears down on coastal cities, officials must now consider the threats compounded by the coronavirus. With many cities observing shelter-in-place orders, concerns are on the rise for the proper evacuation procedures.

Parts of India and Bangladesh will be the first to experience those challenges as category 4 cyclone Amphan heads for landfall on Wednesday. Bangladesh has set up more than 12,000 cyclone shelters along the coastal areas, which are inhabited by 5.19 million people. The dangerous storm surge also places the country’s 1 million Rohingya refugees at a significantly higher risk due to exposure to the elements and coronavirus in refugee camps.

Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the season in the U.S., has begun to move away from the Outer Banks of North Carolina and is expected to downgrade to a non-tropical low-grade storm. The storm’s arrival raised concerns about the state’s preparedness to deal with an active hurricane season during coronavirus lockdown procedures.

Florida is also taking new precautions as the hurricane season approaches, adding facemasks to the state’s storm rescue supplies and redeveloping plans for shelters to accommodate as much social distancing as possible. State officials fear many people will avoid evacuating potentially lethal storm surge zones due to fears of contracting coronavirus.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE 

Odisha’s cyclone measures come handy in Covid fight – women’s groups – ThePrint – 4/29/20 Odisha is doing a better job than many other states in successfully handling the Covid-19 crisis because it has deployed some of the key strategies that were previously put in place during cyclones and floods, which ravished the state. Some of these include marshalling the women self-help groups — SHGs — and getting the food and relief distribution models right.

Coronavirus and hurricane season: Tampa Bay prepares for double disaster – WFLA – 5/12/20 “You have to make adjustments to your plan to meet the situation in front of us. So, we have plans for hurricane season. Now, we just have to take those plans, take a look at them in light of COVID, and say how do we need to adapt and overcome to achieve a positive response,” said Iñaki Rezola, Operations section Chief with Hillsborough County. During a hurricane, Emergency Operations ramp up, and leaders have to plan for evacuations, transporting people, and providing shelter for those who have nowhere else to go. With the threat of the coronavirus, a big concern is trying to prevent the virus from spreading.

Great, Now We Might Have to Worry About Poop Spreading Coronavirus During Hurricane Season – Earther – 5/7/20 Now, hurricane season could bring the risks to the forefront. Storms can overwhelm wastewater plants through heavy rain and storm surge. Winds can also knock out power. Any of these hazards can cause sewage to backup into streets or even infiltrate drinking water. […] This hurricane is forecast to be worse than usual, and the health crisis will create challenges in evacuating, sheltering, and rebuilding. Coronavirus in poop only adds to the challenges should any storms make landfall.

Coronavirus changing how Florida preparing for hurricane season, counties may use hotels as shelters – Fox News – 5/17/20 “This virus really thrives and transmits when you have close sustained contact with people inside an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota. “As you’re looking at sheltering for a hurricane, you have to keep that in mind. If you pile people into a place, under normal circumstances that may be fine, but that would potentially allow the virus to really spread if somebody is, in fact, infected.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

KOAA News 5 on Twitter, 5/18/20: As we head into hurricane season, the head of FEMA says the agency is prepared to handle the potential devastation from storms while also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Climate Nexus on Twitter, 5/18/20: India and Bangladesh are already suffering with coronavirus. Now a rapidly intensified #CycloneAmphan is heading their way, thanks to warming oceans and #climatechange via @CNN

ShelterBox on Twitter, 5/18/20: We are on high alert as #CycloneAmphan is currently tracking towards India’s east coast. There are fears that this #cyclone could worsen the spread of #coronavirus, whilst causing intense rain and storm surges. We will continue to closely monitor.

Grantham Imperial on Twitter, 5/18/20: When #coronavirus meets #climatechange… “The… impacts of the #pandemic, exacerbated by climate-induced disasters like Cyclone Harold, will reverberate well into the future for [Pacific] countries” Interesting read by by @oxfampacific‘s Dr Jale Samuwai

AccuWeather on Twitter, 5/18/20: Due to the #coronavirus pandemic, more people might be less likely to evacuate to a shelter before a hurricane, but is it ever a good idea to stay home when the storm hits?

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