Hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, has just about arrived to Galveston County, but it has been on the minds of the emergency management staff in Texas City for months.
“We started actively preparing for this season two months ago to get ready,” said Tom Munoz, emergency management coordinator. “The main thing now is to get information out to people.”
Of all the things Munoz worries the most about, it’s making sure absolutely everyone in the city is aware of the resources at their disposal.
To help prepare for hurricane season and all it might bring, Munoz is focusing on meetings with the general public as a way not just to get information out about what to expect and how to prepare for a hurricane, but to interact with members of the community, get them to ask questions and make sure they understand the plan, he said.
Texas City officials are hosting one such hurricane preparation town hall meeting June 22 at the Doyle Center and have an evacuation exercise planned for June 7, Munoz said.
“An area of concern is that people will know where to get the information so they are prepared,” Munoz said.
Key components to hurricane understanding is that a watch first will be issued about 48 hours before landfall, Munoz said.
“This lets people know that conditions are possible within the next 48 hours,” Munoz said. “This is when people should look about what to do in an evacuation and prepare their homes. With a warning, everything changes. That comes 36 hours in advance and then you are securing your homes, making sure you have 72 hours worth of medication and preparing to leave. Where are you going to evacuate?”
City officials have to begin hurricane preparations 126 hours in advance, working through checklists, identifying how to evacuate and coordinating with state and other local officials to make sure things run smoothly, Munoz said.
Depending on the situation, city officials eventually could call on a mandatory evacuation, Munoz said.
“But for us, it’s a case-by-case basis,” Munoz said. “It’s important that people are ready and have a plan ready.”
And, to do that, it’s important to keep an eye on the information city officials send out, Munoz said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety backs up Munoz’s main point of staying up to date on what local officials are saying.
“When there’s a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, fill your gas tank and keep it full,” a department statement said. “Start monitoring radio and TV broadcasts — and listen to instructions from local officials.”