Pandemic Complicates Preparations for Hurricane Season

 1566147125 
1589550636

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Gulf Coast of Florida in October 2018.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hurricane season starts June 1. That’s nothing new for those who live along the Gulf Coast, but what is new this year is the fact hurricane season will happen during the coronavirus pandemic. Evelina Burnett of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Tegan Wendland of WWNO in New Orleans and WBHM’s Andrew Yeager described how officials in their respective states are preparing.

How Shelters May Change

  • Mississippi officials estimate shelters may only hold a third of normal capacity because of social distancing.
  • Louisiana emergency leaders have discussed checking temperatures and separating those who may show signs of COVID-19.
  • Another concern is that some volunteers are older and could be at higher risk of complications if they are infected.

Challenges for Emergency Responders

  • Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency director said they’d normally operate with 125 people in a command center. Instead, they’re figuring out how to best communicate with people working remotely.
  • Officials in Louisiana held an exercise with the National Weather Service this week to identify weaknesses. They’re hoping any major storms will come later in the season when presumably the pandemic will have waned somewhat.

How Residents Should Prepare

  • Officials recommend taking more time to put together hurricane kits since stores may be out of some supplies.
  • They suggest including protective items such as hand sanitizer and masks.
  • If evacuating to another family member or friend’s home, check first to make sure he or she is comfortable with it.

This conversation was part of a regional collaboration of public radio stations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

 

Secretary of State investigating Bessemer for potential voter fraud

While rumors of election fraud or irregularities have lingered in the city for years, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed to WBHM his office is looking into allegations of voter fraud in Bessemer this election cycle.

Local health officials plan to increase monkeypox vaccinations

Health officials will soon begin offering intradermal vaccinations, reaching more people with less vaccine.

Combating gun violence remains a top focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As violent crime in Birmingham and the surrounding area continues to increase, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona, uses a variety of tools and strategies to get firearms and bad guys off the street.

Some 3rd graders in local schools could be held back under new law 

This is the first school year that third graders who do not read at grade level by the end of the school year must be held back in that grade, rather than passed on to fourth grade. The Alabama Literacy Act was passed several years ago, but its implementation was delayed because of the pandemic.

How one Birmingham custodian preps for the first day of school

When the kids are away, the custodial and maintenance staff in schools work all summer long. One custodian told WBHM about what it takes to keep the kids happy and healthy as they trade sunshine for fluorescent lights.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

More Coronavirus Coverage