Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2013 Vol. 60 No. 6

During a Hurricane

Hurricane Ike

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with torrential rains and sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or greater which blow in a counter-clockwise direction around a center "eye". Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour and severely effect areas hundreds of miles inland.

As hurricanes approach the coast, a huge dome of water called a storm surge crashes into the coastline, causing major damage to everything in its path. About nine out of ten people killed in hurricanes are victims of the storm surge. Hurricanes also spawn tornadoes and cause severe flooding from heavy rains.

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Know the terms used by weather forecasters.
    • Hurricane Watch - A hurricane is possible within 36 hours. Stay tuned for additional advisories.
    • Hurricane Warning - A hurricane is expected within 24 hours. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.
  • You should evacuate under the following conditions:
  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
  • Read more about evacuating yourself and your family. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.
Ike evacuationy

What to do if evacuation is necessary:
Leave as soon as possible (if possible, in daylight). Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Evacuation will probably take longer than expected. Give yourself plenty of time. Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve. This will reduce potential damage to your appliances (from power surges) and to your home.

Tell someone outside of the storm where you are going. Relatives and friends will be concerned about your safety. Letting someone know your travel plans will help relieve his or her fears and anxiety.

If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone or area prone to flooding, move furniture to a higher floor. Moving valuable furnishings helps reduce potential damage. Bring pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm protective clothing. People frequently arrive at shelters with nothing.

Having these items will make you more comfortable. While shelters provide a safe place to stay and food, specialty items for infants and individuals on restricted diets may not be available. It may take several days until permission is given by local authorities to re-enter an evacuated area.

Bring these items with you to a shelter:

  • First aid kit, manual, and prescription medications.
  • Baby food and diapers.
  • Cards, games and books.
  • Toiletries. Battery-powered radio and extra batteries Flashlight (one per person) and extra batteries Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Identification. Valuable papers (copies of insurance papers, passports, and other essential documents).

Lock up your home and leave. There may be individuals evacuating after you, or returning before you.  Police may be busy with hurricane-related emergencies and not able to patrol neighborhoods as usual. Lock your property as you normally would when leaving home.

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