Hurricane season during the coronavirus pandemic is a double threat. Not only is there a risk of damage to your home, but there’s also the public health risk of COVID-19.
We surveyed more than 1,000 homeowners in hurricane-prone states to learn more about their top concerns during the unprecedented challenges of the 2020 hurricane season. Here’s what we found out.
What Are Your Main Concerns About Hurricane Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
- Hurricane damage: 40%
- Power loss: 28%
- Shelters with lots of people: 21%
- Injuries that require hospitalization: 11%
Facing the 2020 Hurricane Season During COVID-19
This is not a typical hurricane season, and homeowners could be faced with a natural disaster during the pandemic. Researchers from Columbia University found that a Category 3 storm or higher could result in thousands of new COVID-19 cases as people travel to safe locations, gather in groups and work together during recovery.
If there were another storm like Hurricane Irma where 2.3 million Florida residents had to evacuate, a hurricane could prompt as many as 61,000 new COVID-19 cases.
Hurricane Damage During COVID-19
For 40 percent of people, property damage remains the top concern during the pandemic. With the ability of hurricanes to destroy homes, storm damage is a reasonable concern. The risks could be especially high for people who live in the worst U.S. cities for hurricane damage such as Miami or Virginia Beach. Here are two ways that recovering from hurricane damage will be different this year.
- Delayed Support. Many of the country’s emergency response systems are under strain. Cleanup could be slower this year due to fewer volunteers and reduced staff from the American Red Cross. It may even be slower to get back into your home because there could be reduced personnel from insurance companies and building inspectors.
- Financial Challenges. Hurricane damage can cause even more financial strain on households that already have a loss of income during the pandemic. Costs can add up for insurance deductibles, damages that are not covered, and replacing personal belongings.
Power Loss During COVID-19
For 28 percent of homeowners, the top concern this hurricane season is power loss. Here are two ways that dealing with power loss will be different this hurricane season.
- Power restoration could take longer than usual. After a typical hurricane, power companies would set up large camps as a central hub for the workers who are restoring power. This centralization helps logistics and speed. For example, after Hurricane Irma, it took a team of 27,000 workers just 10 days to restore power to 4.4 million people. This year will be different as teams will be decentralized into smaller hubs. The new logistics improve safety, but there could be restoration delays.
- Increased Water Damage. When it comes to water damage in the home, quick water removal is key to reducing mold and preserving structural stability. Delays in power restoration could therefore cause more homes to see a bigger loss from flooding. The exception to this is homeowners who prepared for hurricane season by installing a sump pump and battery backup. These homeowners will be able to safely remove water from a flooded basement or crawl space before power is restored.
Hurricane Shelter Crowds During COVID-19
For 21 percent of homeowners, crowded shelters are a top concern during this hurricane season. With crowds being an easy pathway for virus transmission, we’ll see two changes this year while sheltering during a hurricane.
- Addressing the health risk. During the pandemic, crowds of people in an emergency shelter create a higher risk for virus transmission. This affects both the people who are staying at the shelter and the wider community. Many state and local governments are being forthright about the risks of hurricane shelters. The city of Virginia Beach said: “Social distancing guidelines will be enforced to the greatest extent possible, but the shelter is not private. Be prepared to live in close quarters with other evacuees for several days.”
- Alternate housing during evacuations. New strategies are being developed for public disaster shelters that offer social distancing. In New Orleans, 42 hotels have been designated for hurricane evacuations. To help minimize crowded group shelters, some emergency managers are encouraging evacuees to go to the home of a friend or family member. This can help reduce the virus risk while also making shelters safer by reducing their capacity.
Hurricane-Related Injuries During COVID-19
During the pandemic, 11 percent of people are most concerned about hurricane-related injuries that require a visit to the hospital. Here are two changes we’ll see this year:
- Health care changes. During the pandemic, it’s safe to visit medical centers, but there could be additional precautions in place. Entrance screenings, face masks, and visitor restrictions could all affect health care after a hurricane-related injury.
- Hurricane preparedness kit. The items needed for disaster preparedness have changed, and in addition to needing food and water to stay safe during a major storm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that people keep a stock of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
As the hurricane season started this summer, only 18 percent of people said they were very prepared for the 2020 hurricane season. A free inspection from the country’s leading foundation repair experts can help you learn how to protect your home from hurricane damage.