WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Peak hurricane season is quickly approaching and lawmakers are urging Americans to be prepared, especially as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio warned people in his state this week not to let the pandemic keep them from preparing as we enter what are typically the busiest months of hurricane season.
“If there was any year that we should be prepared for hurricanes, it is this one,” Sen. Rubio (R-FL) said.
The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is Sept. 10. Roughly 61% of all named storms form in August and September. This year has already been an active one with 15 named storms so far. Experts predicted an “extremely active” season in the Atlantic with a total of 24 named storms.
Five of the storms we’ve seen so far have reached hurricane strength and one of them – Hurricane Laura – was a major hurricane.
“People are exhausted from dealing with the pandemic and then to wake up in the morning to find out that you don’t have a place to live?” American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern said.
McGovern says her organization is ready and has already completely transformed the way it responds to disasters.
“We’re giving people masks so everyone wears a mask,” she explained.
The Red Cross is also adding more shelters for social distancing, stocking them with hand sanitizer and even placing families in hotel rooms, McGovern says.
“We’re delivering meals to them by putting boxed meals outside the door of their hotel room and then we are providing counseling and care virtually,” she added.
The Red Cross says anyone who wants to help can volunteer virtually – or simply donate.
“Hurricane Laura, for example, is going to cost us $20 million, and so far only 2.1 has come through the front door,” she said.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working with federal agencies like FEMA to stay vigilant.
“Step one is work to get everybody prepared,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said.
Senators Scott and Rubio want to make sure their state has everything it needs should a storm hit in the midst of the pandemic.
“I know there are plans in place but again, that’s why early preparation is so critical,” Rubio said.