The coronavirus is forcing
"A shelter -- this year with COVID-19 -- really is a refuge of last resort. It truly is," Litschauer said, explaining that social distancing guidelines recommend providing 60 sq.uare feet pf space per guest, instead of the usual 20 square feet. "We always say it's a lifeboat, not a pleasure cruise. Now it's more of a kayak."
"In normal times, (county hurricane shelters are) uncomfortable at best, but at the end of the day it keeps you safe from the elements -- that, we can guarantee," added
The county's shelters should always be used as a last resort, Litschauer said, but space limitations make the situation even more critical. In the meantime, county officials continue to consider other safely located facilities that can be used as shelters to increase capacity.
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In a Friday afternoon press conference,
Litschauer also stressed the importance of putting together a hurricane kit as soon as possible. As the pandemic forces grocery stores to continue limiting sales of items like soup cans, cleaning supplies and other essentials, it could take weeks to fully prepare.
"Don't hoard, but now start stocking up and don't wait for a storm to come around because as the season progresses, it'll get worse," Litschauer warned. "A lot of stores are limiting, so it may take several weeks to stock up. Like with soup, some are limiting to two cans at a time. That could take 2, 3, 4 weeks to complete your kit."
This year, weather experts are expecting a busy season for named storms. Despite the prediction,
"We've already had two named storms and we're not even in the season, so that's concerning for everyone," Litschauer
said. "As we've been saying for the past couple of years, it only takes one. That's what we want citizens to be concerned about; not whether it's 10 storms, nine storms or whatever -- it's to be concerned about that one that's headed for us and to be prepared."
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