Pandemic prompts agencies to revise disaster plans

With the tri-state under a Tropical Storm Warning as Isaias moves closer, both the Nassau County and Suffolk County executives are preparing for what is expected to be a rain and wind event Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning.

The American Red Cross is also preparing. Susan Rounds, interim regional executive for the Greater New York region, said that ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit's plan looks a little different.

"We're really encouraging local residents to be part of the solution right here in greater New York and we have an all-out campaign to recruit and train additional volunteers to join us should there become a problem," she said. "They'll understand the complexities and how to help in their neighborhoods and with their family and friends."

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The American Red Cross outlines important tips and information on the app and website including things like having a two-week supply of food, water and medication on hand in case of an emergency. And in the event that this storm or another soon after requires evacuations, shelters will now have an isolation area for those with COVID symptoms. 

"We'll be limiting population so we can plan for social-distancing of cots, tables, recreation areas," Rounds said. "We'll be providing masks, every resident and volunteer will be wearing PPEs."

More than a thousand Red Cross volunteers in the New York area are ready to respond, including disaster teams to survey hard-hit areas once the storm passes.

"It seems like it will lessen but hurricanes are unpredictable as we saw with Superstorm Sandy so it's important we pay attention," Rounds said.

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