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Big Bend counties adjust hurricane preparedness plans amid pandemic

Posted at 7:24 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 19:24:59-04

(WTXL) — From Leon County to the Big Bend coast, those emergency plans from years past, might not hold up with this pandemic.

Getting an entire county prepared to handle a storm is no easy task.

"Being prepared is always thinking what's the worst case scenario," said Kevin Peters, Leon County's EMA director. "Making sure you have developed a plan."

Now, add a global pandemic like the coronavirus.

"There's a litany of things that we're going to have to figure out the answers to it it's going to look a little different than it has in years past," said Major Shawn Wood, the EMA director for Gadsden County.

"I's a little different this year because we can't be out in the public as much and we're practicing social distancing," said Jennifer Nagy, the Wakulla County EMA director.

Public events and build-a-bucket workshops, all canceled due to COVID-19.

"We're working with some of our local providers for vulnerable populations to make sure those most in need will have the opportunity to receive a bucket and be prepared this hurricane season," Peters explained.

Two years later, Hurricane Michael impacted counties like Gadsden are still leaning on lessons from the Category 5 storm.

"It hit our facilities hard," said Wood. "And now we have the same people that are dealing with the virus so it's tough there's a lot of people that I've been through a lot."

Despite the challenges they face, emergency leaders say their focus is on keeping everyone safe.