After the devastating Hurricane Season of 2017, early predictions for 2018 call for another above-average hurricane season. According to forecasters, up to 14 tropical storms could develop between June 1 and November 30, six to eight storms could become hurricanes – three to five major hurricanes. Regardless of the forecast, it only takes one storm to make it a bad year.
The City of Houston and Harris County experienced its worst flood ever when heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey stalled in southeast Texas last August. Latest estimates indicate 600,000 vehicles and up to 180,000 homes were damaged.
The District E Office is happy to report that emergency dredging is expected to begin on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River in June of 2018. The dredging project will occur just to the west of the US59 Bridge and is expected to end at the opening to Lake Houston. Once a more concrete timeline has been established, the District E Office will provide notification via press release as well as social media.
While we hope that we never see the flooding that we saw last year again, it is important to remind homeowners that regular homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage caused by floods and hurricanes. To protect yourself from losses caused by most flooding, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before coverage takes effect, so if you do not have a policy, you should obtain one as soon as possible. For more information about flood insurance, go to FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-4661.
It is important that residents know who their local emergency management contacts are. All questions pertaining to emergency preparedness should be directed to the office of emergency management in their city. Kingwood and Lake Houston Residents within the City Limits should make sure that they are familiar with the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management HoustonOEM.org. Additionally, Harris County Flood Control District has a Flood Warning System that is a great resource during extreme events available at HarrisCountyFWS.org.
Everyone should have an emergency supply kit with enough non-perishable food and water to last seven to ten days. Other essential items include:
- Copies of insurance papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
- First-aid kit
- NOAA weather radio and batteries
- Mobile phone and charger
- Prescription medicines
- Sleeping bag or blankets
- Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and deodorant
- Cash or checkbook
- Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, and vaccination records
Residents who live in an evacuation zone need to learn their evacuation routes and follow instructions from local authorities. To determine if your home is located in an evacuation zone, check the Zip Zone Evacuation Map.
If you are 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
If you will 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.
It is important to stay informed before, during and after a hurricane. Sign up to receive weather and emergency alerts at www.readyharris.org, Alert Houston, and closely monitor the news media. Local officials will provide information about current conditions, evacuations and re-entry. Residents can also follow HCOHSEM and HoustonOEM on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to your personal preparedness, consider getting involved in neighborhood and community emergency preparedness activities. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills. CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Call Harris County Citizen Corps at (281) JOIN NOW (564-6669) or go to HarrisCountyCitizenCorps.com to sign up for classes or to get information about other volunteer opportunities. You can also get Harris County Citizen Corps news and updates on Facebook.
Finally, please visit ReadyHarris.org or HoustonOEM.org for preparedness tips, and be sure to download the free ReadyHarris app, from the App Store or Google Play. The ReadyHarris app delivers real time weather alerts, hosts a step-by-step guide to building a personalized family disaster plan, offers survival tip sheets, maps evacuation routes, and locates local emergency services.