Hurricane Preparedness Guide

As many of you know, the City of Aransas Pass sits in the heart of the Coastal Bend. The Texas coastal area with its very warm gulf waters make for the perfect fuel for hurricanes. Warm water is what helps build upon a hurricane’s strength and force. A storm can travel thousands of miles from the tropics toward the U.S. coastal areas. Thirty-six percent of all U.S. hurricanes hit the Florida area with forty-six percent of all category 4 or higher hitting the Florida or Texas Coast.

A Hurricane Preparedness Guide is essential to living on the coast. We take this matter very seriously and recognize its importance for the safety of our citizens.

The best plan is your own! Please take the time to set up your plan for your business and residence. Time is never on our side when an emergency is imminent so being prepared ahead of time will help keep you, your family, and business safe!

Sincerely,

Your Emergency Management Team


Essential Safety Information

Hurricanes are among the most devastating natural disasters, frequently causing loss of human lives and serious economic damage through ocean storm surges in coastal regions, destructive winds, and flash flooding due to excessive precipitation.

Do Not Assume It Won’t Happen Here! Remember Hurricane Harvey.

Use this safety information to create a hurricane plan for your family and business.

  • Know your evacuation routes,
  • When an evacuation is ordered, please help emergency personnel by following orders to get to a safer place,
  • If you are in a mobile home or manufactured home, the odds are against you; please take the necessary steps needed to evacuate,
  • Decide now where you will go if you must evacuate (ex. relatives, hotels, friends out of the area, etc.),
  • Verify your insurance policies – windstorm and flood policies should be verified for accuracy and making sure they are current (Some folks thought they had coverage during Harvey only later to find out they did not),
  • Check your disaster supply kit to make sure you have everything you need (http://www.texasprepares.org/ English/disaster_kit_list.pdf),
  • Plan for any senior/elderly parents/disabled/assisted living neighbors,
  • Be sure to stock up on your prescriptions,
  • Have cash because some ATMS may be down before and after the storm,
  • A generator is always a good idea to have readily available.

Plan for Your Pets

  • Make sure to have a pet carrier kennel on hand, food, water and any medications your pet needs,
  • Do not expect local animal shelters or kennel boarders to keep them locally,
  • If you are staying with family or friends and your pets are not allowed, find a boarding kennel near where you will be,
  • Consider microchipping your pet NOW,
  • Keep them on a leash and extra collar in case it’s needed.
  • Also, keep important animal documentation on hand.

For more information on lodging that accepts pets visit www.bringfido.com. Start researching now.

Storm Terminology

Tropical Depression: Once a group of thunderstorms has come together under the right atmospheric conditions for a long enough time, they may organize into a tropical depression. Winds near the center are constantly between 20 and 34 knots (23 – 39 mph).

Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with strong winds of over 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour but less than hurricane intensity.

Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.

Tropical Storm Warning: Is issued when sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph) or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and river flooding.

Hurricane Watch: An alert for specific areas that hurricane conditions pose a threat to an area within 48 hours.

Hurricane Warning: Is issued when sustained winds of 64 kt. (74 mph) or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and river flooding. All precautions should be completed immediately.

Evacuation: The most important notice you will receive. The act of EVACUATING!

Storm Surge Map

Storm Surge Map

Storm Surge: Storm surge is an abnormal rise in sea level 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coast near where the “eye” of the hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high water, topped by waves is devastating. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. Storm surge is the most deadly and destructive part of a Hurricane.

Winds: Hurricane force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy buildings and mobile homes. Debris can become flying missiles. Winds often stay above hurricane strength well inland. If you do not have to evacuate, it is extremely important to secure your home and cover your windows before the storm. Remember, mobile homes are extremely vulnerable to high winds and should be evacuated.

Heavy Rains and Floods: Widespread torrential rains, often more than 10 inches can accompany a hurricane and can produce destructive floods. This is a major threat not only to coastal communities but also to areas located inland.

Tornadoes: Hurricanes produce tornadoes that add to the hurricanes destructive power.

Understanding the Alerts

Hurricane Watch
A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of at least 74 MPH) are possible in the area within 36-48 hours.

Hurricane Warning
A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of at least 74 MPH) are probable for the area within 36-48 hours.

Take Immediate Action during a Warning

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio, or portable, battery-powered radio or television for updated information and official instructions. Hurricanes can change direction, intensity, and speed very suddenly. Continue listening for local information.
  • If officials announce a hurricane warning, they may ask you to leave your home as soon as possible to be safe. Take your Disaster Supplies Kit and go to a shelter or your family contact’s home. Call your check-in contact, so someone will know where you are going. Local officials advise leaving only if they truly believe your location is in danger. It is important to follow their instructions as soon as possible. Roads may become blocked, and the storm can worsen, preventing safe escape. Having your disaster supplies will make you more comfortable while you are away from home.
  • If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, on the first floor away from windows, skylights and glass doors, even if they are covered. Stay on the floor least likely to be affected by strong winds and flood waters. A small interior room without windows on the first floor is usually the safest place. Have as many walls between you and the outside winds as possible. Sometimes strong winds and projectiles may tear hurricane shutters off, so stay away from windows even if they are covered. Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object. Being under a sturdy object will offer greater protection from falling objects. Remember, a trailer or RV should never be considered as a viable shelter.
  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors. Closed doors will help prevent damaging hurricane winds from entering additional rooms. Have a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid using open flames (candles and kerosene lamps) as a source of light. Flashlights provide the safest emergency lighting source. Between 1984 and 1998, candle-related deaths from home fires following hurricanes were three times greater than the number of deaths related to the direct impact of the hurricane. Kerosene lamps require a great deal of ventilation and are not designed for indoor use.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, plastic bottles, and cooking utensils. Public water supplies and wells may become contaminated, or electric pumps may be inoperative if power is lost. Survivors of community-wide disasters have said the individual’s greatest need following the disaster is water.
  • If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce the power “surge” when electricity is restored. When electricity is restored, the surge from many major appliances starting at the same time may cause damage or destroy the appliances. Turning off or unplugging major appliances will allow you to decide when it is best to turn them back on.
  • If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and evacuate immediately. Historically, manufactured homes suffer the greatest amount of damage during hurricanes. Before 1994, most manufactured homes were not designed to withstand even moderate winds.
  • Be aware that the calm “eye” is deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds. The opposing winds begin suddenly, and have surprised and injured many people who ventured out during the eye.
  • Watch out for flooding. Hurricanes and tropical storms often drop large amounts of rainfall and cause severe flooding, even when they are weakening or are no longer a named storm. “Weak” tropical storms are just as capable of producing heavy rainfall and flooding as major hurricanes.
  • Be alert for tornadoes. Tornadoes can happen during and after a hurricane passes over. Remain indoors on a lower level, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows. Going below ground, such as to a basement or storm cellar, increases your risk of flood.

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • Know your surroundings,
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This information will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted;
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you;
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground, and determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property;
  • Cover all home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking;
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage;
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed, so they are more wind resistant;
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts;
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage;
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down;
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat;
  • Install a generator or have one on-hand for emergencies;
  • Consider building a safe room;
  • Take pictures of all property and personal belongings.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

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.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert;
  • Flashlight;
  • First aid kit;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Whistle to signal for help;
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place;
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
  • Manual can opener for food;
  • Local maps;
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.
  • For more on this checklist, visit http://www.texasprepares.org /English/disaster_kit_list.pdf.

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it, so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place;
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers;
  • Replace expired items as needed;
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles.

Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.

Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.

Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. Be sure to place this kit inside an airtight container.

Maintain the Kits

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it, so it’s ready when needed. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place. Store boxed foods inside tightly closed, plastic or metal containers. Don’t forget to replace items as they expire.

Remember to re-think about your kit needs from year to year.

Plan Ahead

Educate your family on how to respond to emergencies, including hurricanes.

  • Informed: Know vital information about evacuation routes, local and state emergency communication, and the location of emergency shelters.
  • Include your family: Explain to all members of your family what actions local and state officials are taking to protect its citizens. Include children in discussions, and make sure they understand what to do if they become separated from you. Have an “out-of-town” contact (such as a relative) that everyone will contact after the disaster.
  • Have a plan: Your plan should include information for your out-of-town contact, meeting locations, and emergency services. A sample form for recording this information can be found at ready.gov or www.redcross.org/contactcard. Teach your children how to call the emergency phone numbers and when it is appropriate to do so. Be sure each family member has a copy of your communication plan and post it near your telephone for use in an emergency.
  • Have supplies: Essential items to have: first aid kit (including prescription medicines), food and water for at least 72 hours, extra clothing and blankets, flashlights and extra batteries. Consider also a NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries, a whistle to signal for help, a camp stove with extra fuel, foldable ladders for second-story escape in a fire, and photocopies of credit and identification cards.
  • Heed warnings: If a warning is issued, follow your plan. If an evacuation order is issued, don’t delay leaving. Your family’s safety is priority.
  • Review Insurance Policies: Keep copies safe and also email yourself a copy.
  • Inventory: all your property and belongings.

When a Storm is Imminent

  • Turn on TV or radio and listen for continuing updates;
  • Review your evacuation plan;
  • Check evacuation kit and family disaster supplies kit and gather any missing items;
  • Contact family members to coordinate storm preparations;
  • Notify your out-of-area host that you may be evacuating;
  • Place important documents and photos in waterproof plastic bags;
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings; open only when necessary and close quickly;
  • Freeze plastic jugs or cartons of water;
  • Fill up drinking water containers;
  • Scrub bathtub and fill with water; keep bucket handy for flushing toilet;
  • Fuel up vehicles and propane tanks; obtain fuel for generators;
  • Prep and test generator if you have one (Do not operate during storm);
  • Stow or cover irreplaceable items; move breakables away from windows;
  • Put up shutters if you have them;
  • Buy roof turbine cap(s) before a storm is imminent. Remove turbine and cap vent hole when storm is approaching;
  • Bring in outdoor furniture, wind chimes, flags, trash cans, and be sure to anchor grills, antennas, etc.;
  • Tie down or stabilize boat;
  • Secure outdoor gates;
  • Reinforce garage door.

After the Storm Passes

Post-Storm Safety

Protect yourself. Always be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, please contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.

Beware of debris. Storms with extensive rain and high winds, such as tropical storms and hurricanes, can cause severe damage and create hazardous conditions such as fallen trees and other types of dangerous debris including downed power lines, broken glass, small pieces of buildings, commercial signs, and road signs. After the storm passes, residents should be extremely careful as they sort through the wreckage to assess the damage.

Handle power outages safely. Power outages are common after storms, and many residents and businesses rely on backup generators until power can be restored. While power generators are quite useful, they also pose certain risks including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death. Before using a generator, it’s important to understand these risks and the necessary precautions for safe operation.

Protect your property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.

Report the loss as soon as possible. Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number, and work schedule as soon as you have them.

Prepare a list. Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster.

Keep receipts. If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.

Return claim forms. After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, they must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (that time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.

Clean-up. When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available. Adjusters may tell business owners to hire a professional cleaning service.

Build stronger next time. When you’re ready to start repairs or rebuild, work with your contractor to make the new structure disaster-resistant and built to the latest codes.

Generator Safety

Use proper care. Proper ventilation is critical to reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a common danger that can cause death if generators are used improperly; this is particularly true when the fuel is not burned completely.

Placement is Key. Never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow CO to come indoors.

Keep other items clear. Maintain plenty of air flow space around the generator.

Pay attention. Get fresh air immediately if you begin to feel sick, dizzy or light-headed or experience flu-like symptoms.

Buy CO detector. Because CO is invisible and odorless, it makes sense to buy a CO detector (similar to or sometimes combined in a smoke detector) to warn of rising CO levels.

“Ground” your generator. Carefully follow all instructions on properly “grounding” the generator.

Keep the generator dry. Short circuits may occur in wet conditions, which can cause a generator fire. If needed, place the generator under an open canopy–type structure.

Be prepared. Always keep a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.

Leave it to the professionals. To avoid electric shock or electrocution, do not try to fix or otherwise work on a generator.

Organize your cords. Keep cords out of the way to avoid injury, but keep them in plain view to keep track of cord damage (such as fraying or cuts) that could cause a fire.

Do not “back feed” power. Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet. Back feeding will put you and others, including utility line workers, at serious risk because the utility transformer can increase low voltage from the generator to thousands of volts.

Know local laws. Some states have laws making the generator owner responsible for taking steps to make sure that the generator’s electricity cannot feed back into power lines; additionally, owners of commercial, industrial, or residential generators must notify the local utility of their locations.

Don’t touch. It’s hot. The exterior portions of a generator, even if operated for only a short period, can become hot. Avoid touching the generator without protective gear and keep debris clear to avoid a fire.

Regarding Generator Fuel. Store fuel in an approved container or holding tank designed for such use. Only use fuel that is specifically recommended in the owner’s manual. Never store fuel indoors. Do not keep fuel near the generator while the generator is in use; this could start a fire. Never refuel the generator while it is running.

What to Wear

As you are cleaning up, make sure you are wearing proper protection to prevent injury. Work gloves, safety glasses, heavy-duty work shirt with long sleeves, work pants, and steel-toe work boots are a good idea if you are working on clearing large amounts of broken, splintered, or sharp debris. If you are operating a chainsaw, wear ear protection, a helmet, and protective chaps or trousers, and a protective chainsaw jacket.

If you are cleaning up after a flood or heavy rain, consider wearing high-quality rubber boots, such as muck boots or another type of high-top rubber boot you can wear in up to 12 inches of water. Rubber boots not only keep your feet dry and warm; they also protect your feet from snake bites, leeches, or other critters that bite.

Storm Cleanup Safety

In the aftermath of a hurricane, severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flood, all you want to do is get back to normal. Cleaning up after a storm is a big job, and it can also be dangerous. As you are cleaning up your yard, your farm, or the inside and outside of your home, remember that safety should always come first.

Here are some quick tips for how to safely clean up after a storm:

  • Wear proper personal safety apparel and equipment;
  • Stay away from power lines;
  • Prepare for fires;
  • Never use candles or matches for light;
  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures;
  • Never operate gasoline-powered equipment indoors;
  • Avoid over-exertion;
  • Remove water saturated materials;
  • Do not cross rushing water;
  • Stay cool.

Storm Cleanup Safety

In the aftermath of a hurricane, severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flood, all you want to do is get back to normal. Cleaning up after a storm is a big job, and it can also be dangerous. As you are cleaning up your yard, your farm, or the inside and outside of your home, remember that safety should always come first.

Here are some quick tips for how to safely clean up after a storm:

  • Wear proper personal safety apparel and equipment;
  • Stay away from power lines;
  • Prepare for fires;
  • Never use candles or matches for light;
  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures;
  • Never operate gasoline-powered equipment indoors;
  • Avoid over-exertion;
  • Remove water saturated materials;
  • Do not cross rushing water;
  • Stay cool.

Power Lines
Always stay away from power lines, even if you think there is no electricity. If you see a power line on the ground near water, stay especially far away from any water that could conduct electricity from the power line. Electricity can travel through water and cause electric shock if any part of your body is exposed.
Downed power lines pose a particularly dangerous threat in areas where there are lots of people trying to clear fallen trees and branches from roads and lawns. Let the professionals handle this job. It’s not worth the risk. If you see a downed power line that is sparking or on fire, call your local power company immediately.

Fires
When storms or flooding has damaged gas and electrical lines, the risk of fires is greatly increased. As you are cleaning up after a storm, always have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Use Flashlights, Not Candles
When checking for damage to a home, never use matches, candles, lighters, or kerosene lanterns as a light source. Warning: Igniting a flame while near damaged gas lines can cause an explosion.

Structurally Damaged Buildings
If a building has been subjected to rushing flood waters or submerged underwater, it may not be structurally safe. It’s best to stay away from these types of structures until professionals can assess the extent of the damage.

Gas Powered Equipment
Never operate power equipment such as generators, pressure washers, water pumps, and other equipment with a gasoline-powered engine indoors. Gas engines emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas you should never breathe.

Work Smart
Yes, there is a lot of work to do, but don’t over-exert yourself trying to get it all done in a hurry. To avoid back and muscle injuries, move and haul heavy objects with a team of people, or use an automated lifting device such as a pallet jack, electric lift, utility cart, or furniture dolly. Consider wearing a support belt to reduce stress on your lower back.

Prevent Illness
When working around flood waters, it is important to remember to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching flood water. Flood water can contain contaminants and pathogens from ruptured sewage lines or wastewater holding tanks. If your home has been flooded, remove all soiled furniture, fabrics, and drywall. Even though these materials would dry out eventually, they are now contaminated with mold and other bacteria that will continue to spread throughout your home if not removed promptly. Mold in the home can cause severe health issues and should not be taken lightly.

Avoid Rushing Water
When there is flooding, avoid entering rushing water on foot or in a vehicle. As little as one foot of rushing water can exert a large amount of force, and you don’t want to find yourself stranded in the middle of rising water or swept away as you are trying to evacuate or save others. Stay on dry land as much as possible. If you need to escape rising water, try to move to the second floor of a building, climb on top of a sturdy structure, or climb up a tree.

Avoid Heat Exhaustion
When working outside in the summer, heat exhaustion can become a real issue, especially if you aren’t accustomed to this type of work. When cleaning up after a storm, be sure to take lots of breaks, drink lots of water, and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. If you can, work during the coolest parts of the day, including early morning and late afternoon.

Other Precautions

Public health officials strongly advise that residents impacted by hurricanes take certain precautions when returning to their homes. The CDC recommends the following measures to help protect your family from illnesses associated with contaminated flood water:

  • Continue listening to local radio or news for the latest updates;
  • Avoid contact with anything contaminated by flood water;
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water unless you are sure it is not contaminated;
  • Maintain personal hygiene by washing hands before eating and drinking, after using the restroom
  • or changing diapers;
  • Do not permit children to play in flood water areas or with toys that have been contaminated by flood water (many times flood waters are contaminated with raw sewage);
  • If you are staying in a shelter or large group setting, take extra care to wash hands and use an alcohol gel;
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned and disinfected (ex. carpeting, mattresses, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys);
  • Throw out all food, beverages, and medicines that have been exposed to flood waters and mud, including canned goods and containers with food or liquid that have been sealed shut. When in doubt, throw out!

How We Communicate

Receive up-to-the-minute communication from Aransas Pass by signing up for our emergency alerts at https://ap-police.com/ea/.

Social Media
You can also follow us online through social media:
@CityofAransasPass
@aransaspasspd
@AransasPassFire
@APAnimalControl

Communication Depots
When technological portals fail, satellite communication depots will be set up at the City Hall (600 Cleveland Blvd.), Chamber of Commerce (130 Goodnight Avenue), Dollar General (709 S. Commercial), and Walmart (2501 W. Wheeler). Information supplied to these depots will be updated at least twice daily.

Resources


211 ASSISTANCE OFFERED:

If you lack the ability to self-evacuate you should call 211. Individuals registered will be given to local emergency management personnel so they can assist you in evacuating. You need to register annually so be sure to update again this year.

WATCH THE WEATHER

Keep up-to-date with the latest local weather. Tune in to https://weather.gov/crp This weather source is updated regularly throughout the day and is your best source for Coastal Bend weather forecasts.