Los Fresnos News

Area emergency managers prepare for an above-average and possibly problematic hurricane season

Stormy-looking skies have been forming over parts of the Rio Grande Valley since before the beginning of the 2020 hurricane season, which began June 1. This season is expected to be an above-average one, which could spell double trouble combined with the COVID-19 pandemic that is still very much in play. Photos: Tony Vindell / LFN


Now that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is here, everybody should already be prepared for the worst, area emergency management coordinators said.

They also said the season is going to test their preparedness, as this time it is happening in the midst of a pandemic that is showing no signs of slowing down.

That could spell a double trouble situation.

At issue is how to evacuate a sea of people in buses under social distancing guidelines to prevent them from being in contact with the killing virus.

Tom Hushen and Frank Torres, the top two emergency officials for Cameron and Willacy counties, are strongly advising residents not to procrastinate as three tropical depressions developed even before the season officially started on June 1.

Bertha and Amanda developed in late May and a new one, named Cristobal, formed just as the new hurricane season began. Last week, Cristobal was upgraded to a tropical storm as it entered the Gulf of Mexico.

Amanda caused deaths and major flooding in Central America, while the exact track of Cristobal remained uncertain, although it was expected to track north toward Louisiana.

Hushen said they have been working on a plan with the American Red Cross.

“We are expecting an above-average hurricane season,” he said. “We must be prepared before anything happens.”

Hushen said they will be monitoring the weather more closely than ever before in case there is a need for evacuation.

Torres expressed a similar remark.

“If a Category 4 storm is heading our way,” he said, “everybody will have to be evacuated.”

Torres said that because of the social distancing guidelines, people put in buses will have to sit every other seat apart and must be wearing face masks.

Another plan is to work out a plan with hotel and motel managers to use their facilities to have small groups of people together. The so-called shelters of last resort will be of no use during such a situation as everybody will be in close contact under a single roof. Therefore, a hurricane in the middle of today’s pandemic could cause all sorts of problems to people with other health issues or for those who worry whenever such situations arise.

Hushen said they have a plan to get people out of harm’s way. However, he also said if people feel more comfortable with making their own evacuation plans with friends or relatives they can do so.

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