Galveston County is growing rapidly. That means that, every year, the old hands on the Texas Coast have a responsibility to let the new folks in the neighborhood know about hurricane season.

How do you prepare to ride out a tropical storm? What kind of kit do you assemble if you’re going to evacuate when a major storm is in the Gulf? What’s your best advice? Your most indispensable gadget?

Do you have any really good tips you’d like to share? If you do, please send them to, along with your name, city of residence and a daytime phone number. We’d like to include some of the best in our annual Hurricane Preparedness Guide, which will appear May 31.

(20) comments

Steve Lamb

I do have some generalities that we could all follow to make it safer for many. First - Evacuations need to be controlled, with the people in the most danger leaving first. That means folks on the west end and Bolivar need to have priority. People who live in the Woodlands need to keep their butts at home. Secondly, when you do evacuate, I know you love your boat and each and every one of us love our cars. That's what insurance is for. You do NOT need to evacuate your boat, and every driver in the family does not need to be in a separate vehicle. Four drivers in a family driving four cars, multiplied by thousands and thousands of families is a recipe for disaster, as we saw with Hurricane Rita. Trying to tow your boat. RV, or what not is also making you part of the problem. Finally, communications is going to be a problem. If you are separated from your loved ones, you do not need to be on the phone with them the entire trip, unless it is an emergency. Keep the airwaves clear. Finally, and maybe most importantly, we all need to be getting behind the Ike Dike and pushing, begging, cajoling, whatever it takes to get that thing built. With it in place, most of the Mainland will be safe sheltering in place, making it easier for those in real danger to get out of harm's way.

Gary Miller

You are correct about evacuations need to be orderly with the most endangered going first. Problem is they wait too long and others who need not evacuate go early. We evacuate at least 24 hours before the first evacuation order. A day ahead of the rush.

The IKE dike as proposed is a joke.
It's proposed to be 14 ft high. The TC/LM storm levee is 23 ft high and IKE nearly overtopped it.
30 ft should be the minimum for up to Cat 3 hurricanes.
As proposed a 14 ft IKE dike could turn the Mainland into a bowl with no drain.
All the mainland except TC might stand under 14 ft of water for weeks untill the IKE dike could be cut.

Gary Miller

An engineer in the Courp told me why the IKE dike was proposed to be only 14 ft high.
It was calculated the cost of 14 ft was as much as could ever be approved. Each added ft could double the cost.
The right of way would have to be wider and wider. A minium of 30 ft of right of way for each ft of hight won't be cheep. 14 ft would require a 420 ft right of way. The equivelent of one and a half city blocks end to end for it's entire length. Cities, schools and county would lose millions of tax base.
Pumps to evacuate water would need to be bigger and more costly as each ft was added.

Jim Casey

GET OUT OF HERE! Put your valuables in the attic or a safe deposit box in the bank, and go. Get onto Travelocity or something and buy cheap tickets to Las Vegas on Southwest or Airtran, drive to Hobby, and go.

One hint that may be helpful: Roll up your carpets and put them as high as you can.

We "rode out" TS Frances in 1998. I all but killed myself in the flood at the western base of the Seawall. We spent 20 hours in the Rita evac going to Austin. We "rode out" Ike with three weeks of no electricity, no air-conditioning of course, no fans, no potable water, no way to do laundry. It was not some kind of pioneer adventure
Just go.

- Jim

Gary Miller

If phone service is a must, get a satilite phone.
Sounds like Semus lives on the Island. First mistake. If I lived on the Island I'd exacuate. Permantly.

Jim Casey

Sounds like Semus lives on the Island. First mistake. If I lived on the Island I'd exacuate. Permantly.

I live at 3202 Avenue O. This is not a secret.

I would rather live here five years and evacuate for five days than live in some place like Friendswood, Dickinson, or League City where the greatest health threat is dying of boredom.

Great spelling skills, BTW. You should go for the National Spelling Bee if you're under 18. In which case you shouldn't be drinking or smoking anything.

- Jim

Steve Fouga

Question for long-time Galvestonians:

Is it worth having both cell and land-line service to double the chances of having some phone working during a storm, or do none of them work and you're simply doubling a zero chance of having phone service?

Many friends are dropping land-line service to save money, and I'd like to do the same. I figure land-line service will definitely be down in a storm. Is this true?

Susan Fennewald

After Ike, when many phones weren't working - I had land-line service.
It was a bit funny: one of the city people (city attorney?) was having trouble contacting someone (?at the state?) -so I offered my land line.

But things got worked out - and they didn't need it.

Some land lines were working - others weren't.

Miceal O'Laochdha


Throughout Alicia (1983, Category 3) and afterward, our telephone worked without interruption out in Campeche Cove. Frankly, I was pretty surprised.

Obviously, we had no cell phones in Alicia. In storms since, notably Katrina, Rita and Ike, but also relatively minor tropical storms, I found cell phone service to be intermittent to non-existent for extended periods of time in the days afterward (weeks in the case of Katrina). So, in my own limited experience, odds are actually better with land lines but, that surely depends on precisely where you are located and how the land line service is delivered to that location.

Having said all that, we dropped land line service years ago so, I offer you my experience but, have not used it myself...

For those who ride the storm out, I find the two things most often overlooked in the "day-before" preparation is to get a lot of cash out of the bank and fill the gas-tanks of all automobiles. Having to siphon gas from a nearby vehicle the morning after Alicia was a lesson I did retain. And, yes, I did leave the appropriate note for the "donor" vehicle, but I never did hear from its owner. There is a real spirit of "help ones neighbors" in the days after a storm. I guess that is why he never called to get the money for the gas I commandeered. Unless, his land line did not work...

Gary Miller

Actually a "debit" card can be better than cash unless your bank is on the Island.
Cash won't do much good to check in a motel or rent a car. They want plastic and a photo ID.
Spare fuel stored in marine gas tanks are a good choice. 12 volt fuel pumps are handy for spill free transfers to cars or generators.

Jim Casey

Our land lines were dead for weeks after Ike. The central office (across the street from City Hall on Rosenberg) was Iked out. Wires were down. They had technicians from all over the country fixing the lines.

Verizon got in here with trailers with cellular antennas and satellite dishes. I was impressed. It still took a week or so to get in touch with people off the island.

Also Bank of America set up a mobile bank branch in the parking lot of their actual brick-and-mortar drive-through at 63rd and Central City Boulevard.

This was all good, but GET OUT OF HERE. Don't try to be a hero, because you won't get a medal.

- Jim

Jim Casey won't get a medal.

You will get a T-shirt—if you pay for it. We got ours from Mod Coffeehouse, which was one of the earliest businesses to reopen in the Strand area.

- Jim

Gary Miller

1a, 1b, 1c, 1d and 1e. Live inside the TC/LM storm levee.

2. put golf bag in car with extra balls.
3. close outside blinds.
4 let air out of tires on boat trailor so wind won't move it.
5. Bring wind sensitive plants in garage.
6. Disconect grage door opener, make sure key works. All my kids have one.
7. Gas up cars and make sure generator runs.
8. Leave a day early for Fredericksburg.
9. Check in at Sunday House.
10. Check with Lady Bird golf course for tee times.
11. Make reservations at Friedhelms resturant.

Only reason to take that short vacation is to leave my house for my kids if their house is damaged. Wife not cooking for that mob.
I enjoy evacuating for hurricanes.
My only IKE loss was a mail box that blew away or was stolen.

George Croix

My two Motorola cell phones (back in 1983, then, they were bag phones with big antennas, each weighing about 5#) were the only things working after Alicia in our neighborhood. Falling limbs got all the phone lines. And power lines.
If you stay or come back early (I was always on refinery 'hurricane duty', so always here)
- Water - to drink and for sanitary purposes
- Simple foods. Few of us will be harmed by missing a meal or two (or several)...
- CASH (smaller bills) and gasoline/diesel (for trucks and generator) (twice as much as you think you'll need) - may be a while before either can be obtained.
- As for generators, do you NEED a big one? The bigger they are, the more gas you have to have on hand for them. My little 2000 Honda kept the freezer and fridge and TV and gas stove ignitor and fans going for a week after Ike while using 1 gallon every 8 to 10 hours, and was quiet doing so. That was about 20 gallons for a whole week. An 'average' 6000 generator can eat that in a day and a half, easily...
- The means to KEEP your cash and gasoline and generator and anything else from someone wanting them - a personal choice, of course. I've only had one up close and personal negative encounter post-storm in over 30 years, but it was enough for me...and him, too. [wink]
- You CAN live just fine without washed clothing, so wait until the flies will no longer light, or perhaps a bit sooner (!!!), before wasting water if you have none running yet. Actually that, too, has only happened to me once.
- If you evac, try to go where fewer people are. Easier to get accomodations, supplies, gas, etc. Less competition in Bugtussle than Austin... ALSO MUCH easier to get out (I always sent my family) or, it was before the coast filled up, and the idiot Mayor of Houston decided to tell everyone to get out now before the coasties got out. AND, NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN, several state and local 'officials' responsible for hurricane evac planning decided that CLOSING ingress and egress to the major freeways was a dandy idea, thus guaranteeing the worst evac EVER, and causing more deaths than the storm did. Interestingly, one of the wizards of that planning is now running for mayor of a certain island city, not to be named.
- GPS - Rather than sit in traffic, make a turn and keep going, while listening to the annoying 'recalculating' voice of Ms. Garmin...
- LUCK. have plenty on hand. It will be the way your lights come on while your neighbors across the street are still out for two more days...
- Everything else is play by ear

Steve Fouga

Rule of thumb for cash on hand?

George Croix

Un-maxed credit card for the places with electricity.
Cash depends on your personal needs/wants.
I kept enough for a month in case the mail didn't run to bring payday, or the credit unions were knocked out. In my big 'ol safe. Guarded by Bruno, then Maxx, then an owner with an attitude and toys...[beam]
Never did need all that, but was also able to help out some friends who ran short, despite their fun-making of my preparations before the event...

Jim Casey

I made it through three weeks after Ike with about $200 in small bills and coins.

However, Kroger had got up and running quickly and accepting credit and debit cards.

You could also buy several dozen MREs or similar camping foods that are sold at Academy or online.

But .... GET OUT OF HERE. It's not going to be safe. It's not going to be pleasant. The neighborly camaraderie runs out. The cops are going to regard you as a nuisance, not a hero.

- Jim

Steve Fouga

You're offering sound advice of the type I'm unlikely to follow.[beam]

Jim Casey

Yeah, well, learn by experience—the hard way.

Good luck.

- Jim


Hard to beat the advice I saw on a sign at the Star Drug Store:

Galveston Hurricane Plan – Grab Beer, Run like Hell!

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