Gov. Reeves confident state can deal with hurricane during pandemic

Gov. Reeves confident state can deal with hurricane during pandemic

WAVELAND, Miss. (WLOX) - In case some have forgotten amid COVID-19 fears, we’re still in hurricane season, and emergency managers are here to remind us.

“So, it is hurricane season,” said FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor. “We’re coming up on the 15-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.”

“We certainly have not seen the worst of this hurricane season,” added MEMA Director Greg Michel, “and if the statistics are right and the data’s right, we could be very much in for a rough ride this year. I hope that’s not the case.”

Gov. Tate Reeves toured the Coast beginning at Waveland’s Ground Zero Museum with local, state and federal leaders to get the message out on all-natural disasters and to see the results of about $4 million in federal grants going directly to emergency response and emergency management on the Coast.

After more than a month into the season, the big question is, are we ready?

Gaynor admits the difficulty.

“We continue to deal with COVID-19, again in Mississippi and across the country, and combined with hurricane season, recovery, it just makes the future a little bit more complicated,” he said. “Not impossible, but complicated.”

Gaynor said FEMA has developed a COVID-19 operational guide for the 2020 season that includes detailed suggestions.

“Things like sheltering,” he said. “You’re going to need more square footage for social distancing. You’re going to need more time because you’re not going to be able to transport the amount of people you would have on a school bus. You know, if you maybe needed one school bus, now you need two.”

Reeves emphasizing the model he said works best.

“When we have natural disasters, they must be state-managed, locally executed and federally resourced,” he said.

Gaynor added that those federal resources are in place, almost double the typical budget.

“Today, I have about $70 billion in the disaster relief fund to respond to COVID-19, to respond to hurricanes and any other natural disasters that are in front of us to include recovery,” he said.

Reeves said while his state knows what to do, he knows the federal government has our backs.

“I have the utmost confidence in the administration, in that, if we need help, they’re going to step up,” Reeves said.

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