TEXAS CITY, Texas -- History can be a great teacher. Texans can prepare for future hurricanes with attention to a personal evacuation route and communication plan.
"Learn hurricane-warning signs and your community's alert signals," said Brad Harris, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) federal coordinating officer for Hurricane Ike.
Check with your county to find out if you live in an evacuation zone and monitor broadcast media to listen to instructions from local officials on whether to evacuate.
"It is important to understand that disaster response and recovery starts and ends at the local level so it's crucial we are all working together," said Gary Jones, FEMA's acting administrator for Region 6. "In these economic times, it is more important than ever to be prepared. Individuals should plan early before a storm threatens or hits their area. Plans in the past may need to be altered to better fit current financial capabilities."
An emergency communication plan for getting back together is important in case family members are separated from one another during floods or flashfloods. This is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.
An out-of-state relative or friend can serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
It is important to make sure that all family members know how to respond to hurricane watches and warnings:
- Check with utility companies before the storm on what to do if you are evacuating.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Be prepared to evacuate. Listen to instructions from local officials and be prepared to evacuate when they tell you to do so.
- Keep children away from creeks, streams and drainage systems.
- Do not drive through standing or flowing water.
PREPARE YOUR HOME
- To protect your home, put up shutters or plywood on all windows and openings.
- Move patio furniture, hanging plants and gas grills inside.
- If your home is vulnerable to rising water, move valuables and furniture to a higher level.
- Turn off lights, household appliances, heating systems, or cooling and ventilation systems.
- Turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker or fuse box to protect appliances from power surges and reduce the risk of live dangling wires after the storm.
- If the house is supplied with natural or propane gas, check well in advance with your gas company on what to do.
- Fill boats with water to weigh them down and check mooring lines.
- Leave BEFORE a mandatory evacuation if you are towing a trailer or boat.
- Make a final walk-through inspection of the home before closing the door.
As previously mentioned FEMA is preparing and continues to prepare for the 2009 hurricane season by:
- Continuing to work closely with our partners to ensure optimal readiness.
- FEMA is working with tribes and states to identify and analyze critical immediate response shortfalls, and work with them to identify, in advance, resources to plug those gaps.
- Our partners a the state level are working with local governments to understand their capabilities;
- Pre-positioning critical supplies and equipment in strategic locations.
- Preparing and ensuring key response teams are ready for rapid deployment to support state/local operations.
- Ensure a coordinated and efficient response by creating 236 specific mission assignments with 29 different departments and agencies to expedite key response actions.