City Officials Urge Preparedness During Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Mar. 5, 2014Office of Mayor Annise Parker

City officials and representatives from Houston’s Weather Research Center gathered Wednesday to  ask Houston residents to think about being prepared for severe weather. A part of the National Severe Weather Preparedness Week campaign, Houston residents were urged to get an emergency kit, make an emergency plan, and be informed about severe weather.

“When emergencies and disasters happen in our community, its the people who have prepared, with supplies and a plan, who are able to bounce back quicker. ” said Rick Flanagan,  City of Houston Emergency Management Coordinator, “We want Houstonians to know that the City has resources available to help them plan for those times when severe weather strikes. That’s why the City has partnered with other agencies and community organizations to make preparedness materials widely available.”

Citing the fact that Houston deals with severe thunderstorms more than it does hurricanes, and that these storms have very similar effects, just in smaller areas; officials urged residents to begin taking steps to ensure that they have what they need, and know what to do when severe weather strikes.

Knowing your risk

Houston is a very risk-prone city for severe weather.  Numerous storms in our history have caused flooding, wind, hail damage and even spawned tornadoes.  This rang true in 1992, when a series of tornadoes, including an EF4 ripped through the Clear Lake area, causing millions of dollars of damage and injuring 16 residents.

Everyone in Houston is at risk from dangerous winds, hail and rain.  Houston residents can find out what their flood risk is by visiting the Harris County Flood Control District’s “Flood Education Mapping Tool” at harriscountyfemt.org.

Houston Fire Department officials also urged residents to “Think, Don’t Sink” when confronted with high water. Many times, injuries and deaths can be avoided when people steer clear of high water areas.

Taking Action

Have what you need: This include having an emergency supply kit in your home, vehicle, office or school.  These kits should  have basic daily items, such as food, water and important medications, as well as things to help protect you in the immediate aftermath of a storm, including sturdy shoes, a change of long pants, and rain gear.

Know what to do:  Having an emergency plan is key to ensuring that family members know what to do, and know who to call after a storm. Select a meeting spot at a designated location for family members to rally after a storm. Also, think about selecting an out-of-town contact person for all family members to check in with.  It is often easier to make a call out of an impacted area, than within one.

Staying informed:  Be informed by ensuring that you have access to official emergency information.  Be sure to enable Wireless Emergency Alerts on your phone so you know about dangerous weather, and sign up for community alerting systems, such as the City’s AlertHouston program by visitingalert.houstonoem.org. Also, bookmark houstontx.gov/emergency for up-to-date emergency information from the City of Houston.

Be an Example

Some of the best prepared people are those who have communities around them that help promote preparedness.  Be a leader in your community when it comes to severe weather preparedness.  Sign up for training through the many programs offered by the City of Houston.  This includes joining a Community Emergency Response Team  or taking SKYWARN® weather spotter courses.

Resources

The City of Houston, through partnerships with community organizations and other governments offers emergency preparedness resources through the Office of Emergency Management and the Ready Houston program.  The City’s Disaster Preparedness Guide is available for residents as a printed copy or download.  Also, ReadyHoustonTX.gov has emergency preparedness resources for people from all across the greater Houston area.

Preparing starts with you.  Have what you need, have a plan, and be informed about emergencies. Find out more by visiting houstonoem.org, or follow us onFacebook and Twitter (@HoustonOEM).