FEMA spreading the word about Hurricane Preparedness Week

BROWNSVILLE — If Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 15-21, is about preparing for hurricane season, then the week before must be about preparing to prepare for hurricane season.

This week, in order to get the public’s attention about next week, teams of Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel are combing the coast to get the word out about this year’s Hurricane Preparedness Week theme: “It Only Takes One.”

It only takes one hurricane, that is, to create major havoc even in the midst of a relatively inactive season. Earl Armstrong, external affairs specialist out of FEMA’s Region 6 office in Denton, was in Brownsville yesterday as part of a swing through the Rio Grande Valley and up to Corpus Christi to talk about preparedness.

He noted that 2016’s Atlantic hurricane season forecast predicts 12 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes, which is not far from the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Armstrong recommended that people near the coast make a plan that includes how and where they’ll evacuate, and how they’ll let loved ones know where they are and that they’re safe.

“They can put together supply kits that they can take with them,” Armstrong said. “They can keep their car gassed up. They can listen to local officials.”

Evacuation kits should have food, at least a gallon of water for each family member, water for pets, and medications for family members and pets, he said. Especially, pay attention to authorities, Armstrong said.

“Listen to your local officials,” he said. “Boiled down, that’s it.”

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year. Armstrong said even coastal residents tend to dismiss it if it’s been a while since they’ve experienced a major storm — not to mention transplants who’ve never experienced one.

“There have been studies in the past that (show) people have gotten kind of complacent, and kind of forgotten about hurricanes of the past,” he said. “Down here in this part of the country you’re close to the coast, such flat lands. Just go ahead and prepare for the eventuality that you’re going to be hit, no matter what the forecast is.”

For complete information on how to prepare for a hurricane, go to www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.