IT’S HURRICANE SEASON: HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAN FOR NOW
BRUNSWICK COUNTY WILL HAVE NEW PRIMARY SHELTER LOCATIONS AND OPERATIONS IN RESPONSE TO UPDATED HURRICANE PLANS AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
BOLIVIA, N.C. – While it is still too early to anticipate Hurricane Isaias’ potential impact on our region, here are some things you can do now to prepare for a hurricane this year.
Over the past several months, members of Brunswick County Emergency Services, Brunswick County Health and Human Services, Brunswick County Schools and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office have reviewed and improved the County’s hurricane emergency response plans, particularly concerning sheltering.
Brunswick County Emergency Services is closely monitoring Isaias and will provide guidance and information as the system progresses. Here is what you need to know and plan for in the event of a potential storm.
NEW PUBLIC SHELTERS AND SHELTERING RULES
Brunswick County’s hurricane response plans includes two primary shelter locations in the event of a hurricane this year. Social distancing will reduce the capacity at shelters this year due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Shelters should be only considered as a last resort.
Take the next couple of days to reach out to family or friends or locate a more inland location to shelter at in the event of a hurricane. Remember: You should not shelter at home when an evacuation order is issued for your municipality or the county.
Brunswick County’s primary shelters for 2020 are at new locations, so make plans to travel to these sites if you do not have an alternative option. The County will communicate the opening of these public shelters when necessary:
- Cedar Grove Middle School / 750 Grove Trail, SW, Supply, NC 28462
- Town Creek Middle School / 6370 Lake Park Dr. SE, Winnabow, NC 28479
Individuals who need special accommodations at shelters or guidance on what to do in the event of a hurricane are encouraged to sign up for the Access & Functional/Special Medical Needs Registry. Emergency Services has been reaching out to individuals on this registry the past few months to help individuals prepare for potential disaster events.
To prevent and protect individuals from the spread of COVID-19 in shelters, all individuals at public shelters must follow these rules:
- Face coverings or masks must be worn at all times. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own preferred cloth face coverings or masks. Disposable face coverings will be provided to anyone who does not have one.
- All shelter guests must undergo a pre-screening for COVID-19 before entering the shelter. This will consist of a answering a series of questions about potential COVID-19 symptoms they could be experiencing, if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
- Any individual suspected to have COVID-19 will be required to stay in an isolated section of the shelter to prevent potential spread.
Additionally, individuals should anticipate the following should they stay in a shelter:
- Ready-to-eat meal kits and bottled water are available to shelter guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Due to concerns about COVID-19, hot meals will not be cooked at the shelters. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own pre-cooked, non-perishable foods or snacks.
- Each individual will be assigned to a dedicated cot (bed). Individuals are encouraged to bring their own preferred blanket, sleeping bag, and/or pillow.
- Individuals and families must remain in their assigned section of the building at all times.
For almost a year, the Brunswick County Shelter Task Force has evaluated the County’s current disaster shelter plans following hurricanes Florence and Dorian while factoring in the COVID-19 pandemic. The current plan is based off the newest guidance and recommendations of task force members to provide the best solutions for disaster shelter operations.
Brunswick County’s plans include secondary or alternative shelters in the event of overflow at its primary shelters or to accommodate additional sheltering needs. The County will communicate additional shelter locations when necessary.
The Task Force also recommended implementing a concept of opening and operating county shelters for Category 1 and Category 2 hurricanes while only opening as shelters of last resort for higher category storms. During higher category storms, Emergency Services will submit a request to North Carolina Emergency Management for state-run shelters inland away from potential hazards.
Brunswick County is also following the CDC’s guidance on public shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic and stresses the importance of all individuals to follow the three Ws: wear a face covering, wait six feet apart from others to avoid close contact, and wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
More details about Brunswick County’s public shelters are at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/shelters/
MAKE A PLAN
Take the next couple of days to go over your hurricane preparation checklist and ensure that your disaster supply kit is ready in the event of a hurricane or disaster in our area:
- Is your disaster supply kit ready? See a list of recommended items here.
- Gas up your vehicles.
- Have your evacuation plan ready. Use North Carolina’s Know Your Zone evacuation map tool to determine your address’ pre-determined evacuation route.
- Secure loose items outside of your home.
- Frequently check on the progress of the storm.
- Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and medication.
- Store valuables and papers in waterproof containers.
- Secure your boat.
- Inform loved ones as to where you will be during the storm.
- Ensure your weather radio is in working condition.
To assist in being prepared before, during, and after a storm, review the following links for helpful information.
During emergency situations, it is important to make sure you are getting the most up-to-date and verified information from the right sources. Here is how you can stay connected with emergency updates and alerts from Brunswick County.
Follow the National Weather Service-Wilmington updates online or on social media: