County plans pair of hurricane awareness meetings
With a tropical disturbance brewing in the Bay of Campeche already and June 1 marking the beginning of the hurricane season, county and state officials are warning residents to start taking steps now to prepare for the tropical season ahead.
“With the disturbance in the Gulf that might bring us some rainy weather this week, we all need to be aware that hurricane season is upon us,” said Matagorda County Precinct 2 Commissioner Kent Pollard. “We all need to be prepared and listen closely to instructions when you receive them this hurricane season.”
The Matagorda County Emergency Management office is hosting a pair of hurricane awareness meetings for the public. One meeting will be held Saturday, June 8 in Sargent at the fire stations from 10 a.m. to noon. The second meeting will be held Monday, June 10 in Matagorda from 6-8 p.m.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging all Texans to take steps now to protect themselves and their families from potential hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
“As hurricane season approaches, emergency management professionals across the state are prepared to assist in the event of severe weather,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “Our first responders and emergency management teams in Texas are second to none, as is the resolve of our local and state leaders to protect our communities from harm. I urge Texans to heed all warnings from local and state officials, and to ensure they have a plan in place to protect their loved ones and their property in the event of a hurricane.”
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes and tropical storms. It is possible for a storm to severely impact our state, even prior to or without making direct landfall in Texas. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines, and winds can vary from 74 to 157 miles per hour (or higher). In addition, hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes, create dangerous coastal water conditions, including storm surges, and cause extensive flooding damage.
Additionally, the rainfall associated with a tropical system can have an extremely wide reach, so monitoring changing weather conditions during hurricane season is critically important for all Texans.
“Texans know firsthand that the damage from a hurricane can be both catastrophic and long-lasting,” said DPS Director Steve McCraw. “There are a few steps everyone can take now that can make all the difference — like assembling an emergency disaster kit and reviewing hurricane evacuation maps and routes. By helping your family plan ahead, you will be ready to respond quickly should a storm head your way.”
Here are several measures residents can take now to prepare for potential storms:
• Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions.
• Review hurricane evacuation maps and select a route for you and your family.
• Plan how all-family members and pets will evacuate safely.
• Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.
• Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.
• Follow the instructions of local officials if a storm develops.
Residents are also encouraged to review their property’s flood risk and current insurance coverage, and to consider whether a separate flood policy should be part of their home protection plan. (Remember most flood policies have a 30-day waiting period before taking effect.)
Residents that might need assistance during a disaster are urged to register now with the state of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) — a free registry that provides local emergency planners and responders with additional information about the needs in their communities. To register, contact 2-1-1 Texas, the state’s free 24-hour helpline. No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905 for community resources.
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Prediction Center released its seasonal outlook that predicts that nine to 15 named storms could potentially develop in the Atlantic basin this year. Of these storms, four to eight could become hurricanes; and two to four could strengthen into major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
If that forecast holds, it would make for a near-normal season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. Regardless of the forecast, it only takes one storm to make it a bad year.
As people continue to recover from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, HCOHSEM reminds residents that preparedness is key to surviving disasters of all types. Everyone needs to have a personal or family emergency plan and a supplies kit that contains enough non-perishable food and water to last seven to 10 days.
If asked to evacuate:
• Leave as soon as possible
• Secure your home; lock windows and doors
• Unplug appliances; turn off electricity and main water valve
• Pack your emergency supply kit, extra blankets, and sleeping bags
• Take your pets with you
• Make sure your gas tank is full
• Follow recommended evacuation routes
If you are staying home:
• Identify a safe room, an area with no windows; stock it with a battery-powered TV/radio with spare batteries, sleeping bags, pillows, snacks, and water
• Secure your home; put away outdoor objects and furniture
• Fill bathtubs with water for non-drinking use (such as flushing toilets)
• Wait until storm passes to come out
Residents that need help evacuating sign up with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) online or call 2-1-1 to register for transportation. STEAR is a free service available to the elderly, people with access and functional needs, and individuals who do not have any other means of transportation.
“Every Texan should prepare for hurricane and storm season,” said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. “As we all know in Texas, it’s not a matter of if, but when the next storm will hit. It is not just Coastal Texans at risk as flooding happens in almost all parts of Texas. Know your risk, protect your home, and plan your supplies and evacuation route now. During an emergency, there’s no time to waste. Do your part to keep yourself, your family, pets, and your property protected.
The GLO encourages all Texans to prepare for Hurricane Season 2019 by doing the following:
• Know Your Risk - Sign up for your community›s emergency warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
• Gather Supplies - Keep in mind each person›s needs, gathering supplies for at least three days. Stock up on items such as food and water, non-perishable foods, first-aid supplies, prescriptions, pet supplies, flashlights and batteries. Don›t forget to charge electronics you may need.
• Secure Documents - Remember to secure copies of important personal documents. Filing for government assistance requires documentation. Be sure to keep documents in a secure location and take them with you if you need to evacuate.
• Make Your Evacuation Plan - Be familiar with the route and shelter locations. Discuss and practice drills for your evacuation plan with your family each year.
• Protect Your Property - Shutter your home as needed, review your flood insurance policy (or sign up for one) and declutter drains and gutters. Most homeowner and renter insurance policies do not cover flood damage. A flood insurance policy generally does not take effect until 30 days after purchase, so be sure to maintain your policy.
“If you survived Hurricane Harvey without any damage, count yourself as lucky,” Bush said. “The next storm could be entirely different, and that’s why it’s so important to be prepared, and stay prepared.”