President Trump said Thursday that US officials are forecasting a “slightly enhanced” hurricane season in coming months, creating new challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
“So you think we can have a slightly enhanced hurricane season? That’s just what we want, that’s just what we want,” Trump said to officials gathered in the Oval Office.
“Are we ready?” Trump asked Pete Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“FEMA is always ready, sir,” Gaynor replied.
Officials arrayed alongside Trump vouched for federal preparedness, which often is questioned in the aftermath of devastating storms — though Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged changes would be needed amid COVID-19.
Fleeing coastal residents “often know and are used to congregating at a local school,” Pence said. “There will be different challenges now.”
Gaynor said, however, that FEMA is preparing for the hurricane season with $40 billion allocated in recent coronavirus legislation.
“We’re in a really great place when it comes to funding, personnel and supplies,” he said.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security, offered a sports analogy.
“It’s almost like opening day for baseball, right? You are much more crisp and sharp halfway through the season than you are on opening day. So that’s where FEMA’s at now, they are in the middle of their season,” Wolf said.
Commerce Secretary Wlibur Ross said that federal meteorologists have been technologies compared to past years.
“We should be able to have three-day forecasts be much more precise than they have been, and that will help a lot with mitigating the disasters,” Ross said.