With the continued presence of COVID-19 and the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season starting soon, Stafford officials emphasize the importance of being prepared. Commonly, residents are asked to make a family emergency plan, stock up on supplies and make sure they have the correct amount of home and flood insurance. This year, residents are asked to make these preparations with the Coronavirus in mind, considering how COVID-19 guidance will affect your efforts to plan for protecting your family successfully. The season begins June 1 and runs through November 30, so it is a good idea to make a plan now.
“In a disaster situation, there is sometimes a need for shelters, and social distancing will make that more of a challenge,” said Stafford County Emergency Management Division Chief Virgil Gray. “But I want to reassure the public that local, state and federal governments are working on modifying plans and policies to respond to any disaster during this pandemic.”
Access to Information
The first step to being prepared is making sure you have access to official sources of information. To receive severe weather alerts, road closure information, evacuation notifications, and other emergency information, all residents should sign up for Stafford Alert - www.staffordcountyva.gov/alert. Residents can also access emergency information on the Stafford County website www.staffordcountyva.gov and follow Stafford County Government on Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor. Emergency updates and information is also available on local radio stations and news channels.
Have the Ability to Shelter in Place for at Least Three Days
It is recommended that you have at least three days of food, water, and emergency supplies on hand. In the event of an emergency, first responders may receive a large volume of calls, and it may take some time before they can get to you. Consider what you would need for a power outage or if you needed to evacuate from your home for a few days. It is essential to plan for your family’s specific needs. Some recommended items include non-perishable food items such as bottled water, prescriptions, batteries and other items to help you during the emergency. Do not forget to plan for your pet’s needs. A weather radio can also be valuable as it gives instant updates for your location during severe weather events like tornadoes. Visit www.Ready.gov for a complete list of recommended items to include in an emergency kit.
Do not be afraid to go to a shelter because of COVID-19. Officials are adapting shelter operations to include social distancing and additional disinfecting policies in compliance with the CDC’s guidelines. If you need accommodations, Stafford County will be there to help you in a safe, responsible manner. If you will be evacuating with pets, the Animal Shelter has a mobile shelter that can accommodate a small number of pets.
One of the most important steps residents can take to prepare today is to obtain flood insurance. Flood insurance, whether it’s through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private carrier, allows individuals, businesses, and communities to quickly and sufficiently recover after a flood. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. Remember, just one inch of water in a home can produce up to $25,000 in damages, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Flood insurance can mean the difference between recovering and becoming devastated financially. Be advised that it takes 30 days to go into effect. For a useful article on flood insurance and Stafford County resources, please visit https://staffordcountyva.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2807.