Bay County preparing for hurricane season amid coronavirus


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–As we head into hurricane season, many are putting together shelter kits and a plan in case a storm heads our way. Agencies across Bay County say they’re also preparing, but not without some obstacles.

“We’re still reeling from the Hurricane Michael damage and so we’re kind of balancing the renovations with the shelter needs so our first school to open is Deane Bozeman,” said Sharon Michalik, the Director of Communications for Bay District Schools.

Now the district is faced with a new problem, the coronavirus.

“We’re gonna be adding sanitation specialists to our regular team to staff the shelters so we’ll definitely be looking at as much sanitation as we can,” said Michalik.

Some residents say they’d be hesitant to visit a shelter but may not have another choice.

“I can see why some people would choose not to but with some people having homes that aren’t made for hurricanes, there’s not much else they can do,” said Mike Jennings, a visitor.

Bay County Emergency personnel say they’re also exploring temperature checks at shelter entrances, as well as adding more schools to their current list.

“We’re gonna walk through the additional schools to make sure that they meet the criteria that we need in order to spread folks out,” said Frankie Lumm, Bay County’s Emergency Management Chief.

Michalik says they won’t require people to wear masks unless told to do so by the CDC. But they do encourage people to have a backup plan.

“I think that they’ll be messaging more about sheltering in place for a category 1 or 2 storm or shelter at a relatives’ home that further inland,” said Michalik.

To get emergency alerts this hurricane season, you can download our Storm Track 13 mobile app. The app is available in mobile app stores.

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