Coronavirus leads to special hurricane season preps

More busses and shelters planned to help with social distancing
Updated: May. 5, 2020 at 5:56 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis a slightly more predictable threat is already joining the conversation. FOX 8 checked in with New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for an update on hurricane season preparations.

If a storm threatens some things never change according to Collin Arnold the director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He said,

“Our messaging will remain the same. We will always encourage people to do the safest thing possible,” says Arnold.

With storm season looming and the Coronavirus threat lingering officials say determining what is safest for you and your family will take a little more thought.

“I think more than any other time, certainly in the time that I’ve been involved in the Office of Homeland Security operations people really need to pay attention."

He hopes citizens take advantage of this time at home.

“While they are together to really refine and enhance their own personal planning and their supplies,” says Arnold.

The director said the city and state are working together to make sure the Coronavirus threat is handled when it comes to assisted evacuations.

Arnold assures, “We are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are spacing people out appropriately.”

He is confident social distancing can be maintained from the evacuation pick up spots through the process of getting people into shelters.

“There’s going to be more buses and there’s going to have to be more shelters in central and north Louisiana.”

Masks and other protective equipment will also be provided.

“In order for this center to work especially including during a hurricane in a COVID-19 environment we need to practice what we preach and that’s what we are doing,” said Arnold.

He made sure to point out he only removes his mask for interviews.

Arnold also stressed assisted evacuation should be a last resort.

”For persons who for whatever reason whether it be special needs or transportation or financial reasons cannot evacuate on their own. That’s obviously the preferred choice.”

This gives residents the most control over thier circumstances.

Arnold said his office typically speaks to 300 to 400 community groups a year, but with distancing measures in place they hope to announce some virtual opportunities as we close out National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Hurricane season officially begins June 1.

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