The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season has begun. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Prediction Center has released its seasonal outlook that predicts that nine to 15 named storms could potentially develop in the Atlantic basin this year. Of these storms, four to eight could become hurricanes and two to four could strengthen into major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
If that forecast holds, it would make for a near-normal season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. Regardless of the forecast, it only takes one storm to make it a bad year.
“The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) monitors all named storms and activates once a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Our proximity to the coast makes us vulnerable and storms can intensify very quickly. The county, along with our first responders, is working hard to prepare for hurricane season and asks that the community do the same.”
As people continue to recover from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, HCOHSEM reminds residents that preparedness is key to surviving disasters of all types. Everyone needs to have a personal or family emergency plan and a supplies kit that contains enough non-perishable food and water to last seven to ten days. Below are other essential items to 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
- Clothing and shoes
- Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
- Cash or checkbook
-Pet supplies, including food, water, leashes, bedding and vaccination records
It is also encouraged for people to buy flood insurance through their home insurance agent, even if they have never experienced flooding. For residents who may already have coverage, check the status of the policy to be sure it has not lapsed. For more information, visit floodsmart.gov.
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 at readyharris.org/Preparedness-Quick-Links/Interactive-Evacuation-Map.
If 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 211 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.
Remember, it is important to stay informed before, during and after a hurricane. Sign up to receive weather and emergency alerts at readyharris.org and closely monitor the news. Local officials and Harris County will provide information about current conditions, evacuations and re-entry. Residents can also follow HCOHSEM on Facebook and Twitter.