Experts share complications of storm prep during COVID-19

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DUKE UNIVERSITY, N.C. (WNCT) – We’re nearing the peak of hurricane season, and state, and local officials are preparing for potential disasters in the middle of the pandemic.

Duke University experts are shedding light on the complications the virus can cause while preparing for storms.

One tough call for leaders before a storm arrives is a mandatory evacuation.

“Depending on the nature of the storm, I think sometimes, waiting on a fast-moving storm, might make sense and at other times there doesn’t seem to be the best evacuation plan,” Lisa Campbell, marine affairs professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of Environment.

Evacuations often mean people heading to shelters. Health experts don’t think the pandemic requires extra time to set up those places.

“The primary concern is that we just have to make sure we have adequate workflows and paths for patients for people to come into the shelter ensure that there’s appropriate hygiene’s, appropriate screening and appropriate PPE for the shelters,” said Andrew Godfrey, emergency medicine specialist at Duke Health.

They believes it’s a smart move for evacuees to go to shelters in areas with fewer COVID cases.

Campbell say this pandemic’s economic impact could affect evacuations.

“We may have people that previously may have been able to evacuate and stay at a hotel or motel,” said Campbell.

Experts say paramedics are already facing a burden from COVID and major storms will only add to their load.

Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton is asking for one thing from local officials from all levels of government before and after hurricanes.

“I have to have information. We have to get that information at the ground level so we can take the appropriate actions,” said Newton.

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