The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) urges residents to prepare now for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from Tuesday, June 1, through Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
It only takes one storm to change your life and our city. Hurricanes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. When a hurricane strikes our Gulf Coast, it can bring with it several serious hazards. These hazards include inland flooding, high winds, a storm surge, and even tornadoes.
Learn how to prepare for the dangers of tropical storms and hurricanes during this year’s Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 9-15, 2021).
Determine Your Risk
The threats from hurricanes to you and your family can vary widely depending on where you live. It’s not just those along the coast that can experience significant, life-threatening impacts. Evaluate what you need to do to protect your home and family NOW, before the first storm of the season even forms.
Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in your network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like operating medical equipment. Create a personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.
Develop an Evacuation Plan
Everyone in Houston is at risk of encountering flooding at some point. You should know whether you live in a mapped flood plain or a flood prone area. The Harris County Flood Control District’s Flood Education Mapping Tool (harriscountyfemt.org) helps residents better understand their risk from floodplains, as well as help them identify which watershed they live in.
Take some time this week to make sure you have a hurricane evacuation plan. Figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles but have multiple options. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone or unsafe home, and coordinate with them to use their home as your evacuation destination. Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about. As hurricane season approaches, listen to local officials on questions related to how you may need to adjust any evacuation plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.
Assemble Disaster Supplies
Just having enough supplies to make it through a hurricane isn’t enough. You need plenty to make it through what could be a LONG recovery period too. Water and electricity could be out for a week or more. Have enough non-perishable food, water, and medicine to last each person in your family for a MINIMUM of one week. Also make sure you have extra cash, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and a portable crank or solar powered USB charger to charge your cell phone. To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
Get an Insurance Checkup
This Hurricane Preparedness Week call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance checkup to make sure you have enough homeowner’s insurance to repair or even replace your home. Remember, standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for flooding. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period. Take photographs of your possessions before a storm hits in case you need to document damage afterwards.
- FLASH Insurance Guide: If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Covered?
- Find Available Coverage at www.floodsmart.gov
Strengthen Your Home
You can help mitigate damage to your house with a little preparation. Before hurricane season starts, consider trimming branches that are hanging over your house and removing trees that could fall on your house.
If you plan to ride out a hurricane in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand high winds.
- FEMA Mitigation
- FLASH: Prepare Your Home
- FLASH How-To Videos
- Protect Your Home From Flooding Video (English/Spanish)
Help Your Neighbor
Many Americans rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches. Learn about all the different actions your community can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes.
Complete a Written Plan
The time to prepare for a hurricane is NOW, before the season begins. Once you’re under pressure, having a written plan will take the guesswork out of what you need to do to protect you and your family.
Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a Hurricane Watch is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line.
Being prepared NOW will mean the difference between your being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.