Governor Gina Raimondo advises Rhode Islanders to prepare for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins June 1st and extends through November 30th. This year she is asking people to take into consideration protecting themselves from COVID-19 in their hurricane planning.
“The last thing anyone wants to worry about right now is a potential hurricane, but it’s critical that Rhode Islanders plan ahead and stay prepared,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We all need to take some time and think through strategies to protect our family, neighbors, loved ones and pets in the event that a hurricane comes our way this season. Rhode Islanders have demonstrated incredible resilience over the last three months, and I know that we can come together as a community in this effort.”
“Emergency preparedness is a core function of public health. It is critical that we plan ahead for hurricane season,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). “This year, as we continue responding to COVID-19, Rhode Islanders should add certain supplies to their preparedness kits. This includes masks, hand sanitizer, and other sanitization products. ”
“Last week, NOAA predicted this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season to be ‘above normal’, which means there could be more tropical storm activity in the Atlantic than previous years; there have already been two named storms before the official start of the season” said Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) Director Marc Pappas. “This is all taking place during a pandemic, which complicates planning for all Rhode Island citizens. We are closely following guidance from the Center of Disease Control and RIDOH to ensure our hurricane planning and response keep Rhode Islanders safe and healthy before, during, and after a hurricane. We will continue to educate the public about how to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their belongings from any disaster that may affect their lives. Whether the forecast is above-average or below-average, we will continue to remind Rhode Islanders that it only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to cause a disaster.”
As Rhode Islanders deal with the pandemic, they should prepare for hurricane season by building preparedness kits that include supplies to protect them from the usual dangers during and in the aftermath of a hurricane- i.e. batteries for flashlights, nonperishable food items, etc.- as well as the essential items and practices needed to protect themselves from the coronavirus like masks, gloves and hand soap or sanitizer. They should consider how they will react when a hurricane is forecasted- including how they will be able to regularly wash or sanitize their hands, access to changes of clothes and how they will maintain social distancing in the event they may need to evacuate.
Rhode Islanders can stay informed by enrolling in CodeRED, to receive alerts from their local emergency managers and by following state agency websites and social media accounts (links listed below). “Throughout the year, and especially during hurricane season, Rhode Islanders are encouraged to visit our social media channels in order to access tools and information necessary to prepare their families, homes, and businesses. We will be posting tips about how to prepare for hurricane season in a COVID environment in the coming days. On our website, www.riema.ri.gov, users can find more education tools,” concluded Director Pappas. For more information please contact RIEMA at (401) 946-9996.
Rhode Islanders are also encouraged to enroll in the Rhode Island Specialty Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER). Enrolling in RISNER lets police, fire, and other first responders in your community better prepare for and respond to your needs during a hurricane, storm, or other emergency. Many people may need extra help during a time of emergency, including people who:
• Use life support systems such as oxygen, respirator, ventilator, dialysis, pacemaker, or who have chronic conditions and require treatment (e.g., diabetics requiring insulin); • Have mobility needs and use a wheelchair, scooter, walker, cane, or other mobility device; • Are visually impaired, blind, hard of hearing, or Deaf; • Have speech, cognitive, developmental or behavioral health disabilities; or • Use assistive animals or a prosthesis.
The information submitted to the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry is shared with local and state first responders and emergency management officials. Your information is held confidentially and only accessed to assist in your safety and well-being. RIDOH and RIEMA have worked with E-911 to notify first responders when they are responding to a household that may have someone enrolled in the Registry. While enrolling in RISNER does not guarantee assistance, this notification allows first responders additional time to consider how to best respond to that incident.