REISTERSTOWN, Md. – Know. Plan. Act. These are the actions Maryland Emergency Management (MEMA) officials are urging Marylanders to take as the Mid-Atlantic region prepares to enter the peak of hurricane season––one that has already broken several records, including a record 11 named storms thus far, with nine tropical storms and two hurricanes.
The Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign launched through social media and digital billboards days before Isaias impacted Maryland and will be expanding to TV, radio, cable, and other mass media beginning today. The campaign underscores the importance of hurricane preparedness during COVID-19 and knowing if you are in, near, or traveling to, an evacuation zone by visiting KnowYourZoneMd.com.
“I urge all Marylanders to be proactive and take preparations for hurricane season seriously,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Isaias showed us the kind of damage a tropical storm can do to our communities. All Marylanders need to be extra vigilant this hurricane season due to extra precautions that may need to occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The time to prepare is now.”
Isaias hit Maryland in early August, spawning 9 tornadoes on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland, causing one death and several injuries and likely causing millions of dollars in damage.
NOAA’s updated 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook forecasts that an “above-normal hurricane season is very likely, with a significant possibility of the season being extremely active.” Specifically, the outlook indicates an 85% chance of an above-normal season.
“There is a possibility according to NOAA that we will see a much more active hurricane season than what we are used to as Marylanders,” said MEMA’s Executive Director, Russ Strickland. “All it takes is one storm to change your life. That is why the State of Maryland, MEMA, local Emergency Management Directors, and our partners, like the American Red Cross, will continue to collaborate together through National Preparedness Month in September until the end of hurricane season in November, to ensure our preparedness message is heard loud and clear.”
Strickland also reminded Marylanders to Know, Plan, and Act.
1. Know: Your zone in case you are told to evacuate by local emergency officials.
2. Plan: what you need to do to deal with an emergency now.
3. Act: Be familiar with evacuation areas, evacuate when ordered to do so.
As part of the ongoing PSA campaign in Maryland, MEMA has created eleven 30-second videos that cover all aspects of hurricane preparedness, including COVID-19 implications; hurricane threats, like storm surge and tidal flooding, flooding rains, hazardous winds, and tornadoes; evacuation zones and orders; emergency kit preparations; considerations for children and pets; and sheltering in place.
Preparing for the hurricane season––and all hazards––has become more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, for both emergency officials and the public. State and local officials, and their partners, have updated plans for both evacuation and sheltering because of COVID 19 limitations. MEMA reminds people of how COVID-19 may affect this year’s hurricane season in Maryland:
• People may be asked to shelter-in-place in lieu of evacuation in some circumstances, and if buses are provided to assist with evacuations, their capacity will be reduced.
• Allow extra time to evacuate if needed because shelters might be farther away.
• Residents are better off locating shelter with family or friends outside the expected danger zone or staying at an accommodation of their choice.
• Capacity at congregate shelters (i.e., schools) will be severely reduced and officials will explore using non-congregate shelters (i.e., hotels and rental properties) where available. But state, local, and nonprofit partners will still provide shelter options.
• Shelter operators also have stocked up on COVID-19 specific supplies such as face coverings, sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes, to augment what evacuees may not have. However, residents need to make added preparations to their disaster supply kit because of COVID 19:
- Face coverings — at least 2 per person.
- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
• Look here for the complete list of recommended supplies and make sure you have extra supplies for your pets.
The above additional considerations are in addition to the preparedness steps you should already have been taking:
• Prepare and plan for surviving on your own after a disaster.
• Plan for several days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, banks or ATMs, and other local services.
• Take time to learn lifesaving skills, such as CPR and first aid. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.
• Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and try to save for an emergency.
• Being prepared starts by knowing your risk and taking the appropriate actions before, during, and after a disaster strikes.
• This means a communications plan, an evacuation & reconvening plan, and a plan for your pets.
• Learn where you will receive emergency notifications, including news media, a NOAA weather radio, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), etc. Learn about other alert systems at Ready.gov/alerts.
• Plan to be able to receive Information from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources.
• Follow MEMA and your local emergency management agency on social media.
For more information about hurricane preparedness, please visit MEMA, Ready.gov, the National Weather Service, and the American Red Cross. To receive alerts, tips, and resources related to COVID-19 and other threats and hazards affecting or that may affect Maryland during this hurricane season and beyond, text “MdReady” to 898211.