Ida not expected to pose threat locally, but residents reminded to stay ready

With Tropical Storm Ida expected to track more toward Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, the threat for Southeast Texas appears to be lessening with each new update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

As of 10 a.m. Friday, reports from Air Force and NOAA reconnaissance aircraft indicate that Ida’s maximum sustained winds have increased to nearly 65 miles per hour with higher gusts. Ida is expected to strengthen later Friday, becoming a hurricane as it nears western Cuba and approaches the northern Gulf Coast.

Current tracking shows Ida making landfall along the U.S. coast on Sunday, causing storm surges and flooding in coastal communities.

While Texas appears to have missed the worst of Ida, there are three months left in this year’s hurricane season, which expires on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Historically, late-season storms have posed the greatest threat to Texas. Since 1980, there have been 81 tropical storms or hurricanes to impact Texas. Of these, there were seven in July, 19 in August, 25 in September, 13 in October and two in November.

Hurricanes pose a risk for both coastal and inland residents. For those in coastal communities, the greatest threats typically are storm surge and high winds. For inland residents who live in areas that border coastal communities, flooding rains, tornadoes and high winds also are risks.

If you haven’t prepared for hurricane seasons or other natural or manmade disasters, now is the time. According to the national public service campaign called Ready, there are four key things that individuals are asked to do:

(1)  stay informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses

(2)  make a family emergency plan

(3)  build an emergency supply kit, and

(4)  get involved in your community by taking action to prepare for emergencies.

To make a family emergency plan, you should start by discussing shelter plans (whether you plan to remain in your home or seek a community shelter), defining your evacuation routes and developing a communications plan. For the communication plan, make sure you establish an out-of-town contact person who will communicate messages to your family members in the event that you are separated from each other. Make sure that everyone in your group has a list of phone numbers for the other members.

In the event that disaster strikes when you are away from each other, you should have a plan in place for emergency meeting places in your neighborhood, outside of your neighborhood and outside your town or city. The meeting place could be the out-of-town home of a relative or friend. Make sure everyone has the address and knows how to reach the designated meeting place.

Build a supply kit of items that you may need to survive for several days until systems are restored. This means having your own food, water and other supplies, including pet foods and medicines. Supply kits should have one gallon of water per person per day for several days, enough non-perishable food items for at least three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio for weather and news alerts, flashlights, first aid kit, extra batteries, whistle, dust masks, plastic sheeting or duct tape (to shelter in place), hygiene items such as baby wipes, garbage bags and plastic ties, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, manual can opener, local maps and cell phones with chargers and backup batteries.

You should also have copies of insurance policies and other important documents, and cash or traveler’s checks on hand. To see a complete list of suggested items, go online to https://www.ready.gov/kit

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