It’s time again to start thinking about hurricanes. The season begins Saturday and runs through November.
Few people aside from buffs enjoy thinking about hurricanes, but doing so is part of living here.
A good way to get your mind into the season is to attend one of the hurricane meetings most cities in the county hold each year.
Galveston’s is Saturday. You should go, especially if you are new to the island.
That’s a worry that keeps coming up when reporters interview emergency managers — the fact that so many people have moved into the area since the last time we experienced a serious hurricane or tropical storm.
The meeting will offer one-stop shopping for all sorts of information you’ll need to make it through a hurricane.
The preparedness fair will be staffed with representatives from the National Weather Service, CenterPoint Energy, Galveston County’s Office of Emergency Management, the Galveston Fire Department, the City of Galveston Office of Emergency Management and many other preparedness and recovery experts, according to the city.
Numerous vendors that specialize in helping families, pets and senior citizens prepare their homes for hurricane season also will be at the fair.
City officials will be there to talk about governmental plans and policies for such things as evacuation and re-entry. They’ll explain how you can sign up for special assistance.
One of the main things city officials will try to get across is that people should evacuate when the city so orders.
That’s good advice. No one who can leave the island ahead of a hurricane should stay.
Far too many people ignored the order to leave before Hurricane Ike arrived. Some of them had made a calculated decision to stay and had prepared for the event and the aftermath. A lot had not though, and when things got hairy they started calling 911 for help. They put police officers and firefighters in danger. They put city equipment that should have been hunkered down on high ground on the streets at risk and they distracted the city from other efforts.
For many, the rationale for staying was the disastrous evacuation from Hurricane Rita in 2005. That event was bad enough to make facing down a hurricane seem sort of sane. But it’s not and the evacuation system has improved a lot since then.
There’s only one sane response to a hurricane: Board up your house, gather what you cherish and take it inland.
One danger for people here is judging all hurricanes by Ike. We recall a warning from a colleague at the Mobile Register, a newspaper that covers an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The exact quote is lost, but the gist was that we shouldn’t think of Ike as the worst-case; Ike was not. Add 140 mph winds to Ike and you have something like the worst case.
• Michael A. Smith