WASHINGTON - Earlier today, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor spoke to The Weather Channel about preparedness actions ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaynor urged residents along the storm’s path to take preparedness actions outlined by their local officials.
“There’s time now to still prepare," he said. “… Let’s say you have to evacuate and go to a shelter or someplace that’s not your home. How do you assemble enough COVID-19 hygiene supplies to make sure you and your family are safe? Masks, hand sanitizer, all those things you probably don’t think about these days, but you’re going to need if you have to leave the safety of your home to go to a shelter or to a congregate or non-congregate shelter… Do one or two things to improve your preparedness and the safety of your family," Gaynor said. "Do it today. There's still time.”
Gaynor said the agency has worked for months to prepare for this hurricane season during the pandemic. He said FEMA has a decreased footprint in the National Response Coordination Center, in addition to using virtual options as much as possible.
“Let’s not put our disaster survivors in greater risk by having to go face to face where we don’t have to,” he said. “So, virtual damage assessments, over the phone, streaming video, all those kind of things. We want to make life a little bit easier for our emergency workers, and obviously we want to make life safer for those disaster survivors who just had a disaster run through their neighborhood, and they have to respond or deal with COVID-19," said Gaynor. "All those things are considerations. Again, it makes it a bit more complicated, but not impossible. We’ve done planning for months now to make sure that we adapt as we go, adapt as we learn.”
Gaynor also spoke to Neil Cavuto of Fox News where he stressed how the hurricane forecasts can change, so families need to take preparedness actions now.
“First, heed your local, county and state emergency managers. They know best,” he said. “… Generally, I will say don’t bet your life on what the forecast, track and intensity will do. Today is the day to make those final preparations, so you’re ready, no matter what happens. If I could ask everyone out there in Florida, especially those along the track of the storm, take preparedness actions today. Make yourself, your family and business safer today, so you won’t regret it tomorrow.”