Hurricane Season 2021: Shelters And Evacuations

CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana spoke to the emergency managers in both Miami-Dade and Broward to find out what plans are in place to protect those who need to evacuate.

Video Transcript

- In the event a threatening storm prompts evacuations, shelters will open in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, but of course, the pandemic has forced emergency managers to rework the way emergency operation centers will function. CBS 4 anchor Lauren Pastrana explains their plans.

LAUREN PASTRANA: You won't find the usual hustle and bustle at local emergency operation centers during hurricane season, but that doesn't mean emergency managers and their support staff aren't hard at work.

FRANK ROLLASON: Our IT department developed a virtual EOC, and so we tried it out a couple of times last year. It worked fairly well. And it's very Wi-Fi dependent, as you can well understand with people working at a distance.

TRACY JACKSON: There will be a smaller number of them here, but they will be here in the building. The numbers will just be reduced on account of social distancing and the other things that we've learned. So when we activate, we'll have all the decision making power, within the EOC, throughout the activation that we need to take care of the needs of the citizens.

LAUREN PASTRANA: So if a storm threatens, rest assured there are plans in place in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, plans that had to be tweaked last year on account of COVID.

FRANK ROLLASON: Just about where we were last year. The advantage we have, we think, is that we have a lot more people have been vaccinated. But when you think about the demographics that normally come to our hurricane evacuation centers, they're probably in that area that have not received a lot of the vaccine.

TRACY JACKSON: The only thing that's changed really is our attitudes about where we are. We still have COVID as a threat to the community, and we're still actively taking steps to mitigate that spread. The EOC's still active. Longest activation in South Florida history by the way, 365 days plus. The EOC's still active and working with the Department of Health every day with the vaccines and having those sites work. But in terms of hurricanes, the things that we learned about social distancing, and PPE, and temperature taking will still be in play this summer.

LAUREN PASTRANA: Both emergency managers stress the importance of heeding evacuation orders and getting prepared now.

FRANK ROLLASON: People are sort of in the mode that we don't really have to worry till like August, September, and that's not the case anymore. As long as that water's hot, and the climate doesn't know anything about the calendar, it's cooking. And it's cooking sooner, and it's lasting longer.

TRACY JACKSON: If you are hearing this and you haven't already prepared, it's a little late, but today's a great day.

LAUREN PASTRANA: If you do need to go to a shelter, take note that COVID testing and vaccines are not required at the evacuation centers. But if anyone is feeling sick, plans have been made to accommodate those people away from the other evacuees. Lauren Pastrana, CBS 4 News.