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Conference gives pointers on hurricane preparation

By adriana_acosta
June 5, 2010 at 1:05 a.m.

Dan Reilly, severe weather meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Houston-Galveston office shows a day-by-day radar photo of hurricane Ike before hitting land.

PALACIOS - Megan Dobbins is concerned about hurricane season.

Dobbins, the manager of Sixth Street Coin Laundry in Palacios, wants to be prepared should a hurricane hit the area.

"I am running a business, and need to protect it in case a hurricane passes through," she said.

Dobbins and other concerned Matagorda County residents attended the 2010 Community Awareness Conference on Saturday at the Palacios Recreation Center.

She hoped to educate herself by finding out evacuation plans, routes and re-entry procedures and what emergency items to purchase in preparation of a hurricane.

"We are preparing the community for an active hurricane season," said Doug Matthes, Matagorda County's emergency management coordinator.

The conference is done to provide residents with information on how to prepare their family and property for a hurricane or tropical storm threat to this area, Matthes added.

The conference was sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Matagorda County, the city of Palacios, city of Bay City and the Rio Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Guest speakers included Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Daniel Terronez and Matagorda County Sheriff Gary L. Mathis, who discussed the procedures Matagorda County takes when evacuating residents from the area.

Representatives from the Texas Department of Insurance Windstorm Inspection Program offered information on how to get free windstorm inspections.

Hurricane checklists, emergency contact information and hurricane assistance information were offered by the Matagorda Emergency Management team.

"Grab & Go" evacuation kits were given out by the American Red Cross that provided hurricane checklists, emergency contact information and a hurricane evacuation contraflow route map.

The Matagorda Regional Medical Center handed out free emergency medical kits.

Dan Reilly, severe weather meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Houston-Galveston office, provided the 2010 hurricane outlook for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico basins.

Different factors are lining up for a very active season, and having this conference is important to educate people who have not been through a major hurricane in recent years, said Reilly.

"Some people might not know what to expect and need to be aware of, especially in the storm surge area, where it can be a life and death decision," he said.

People really need to know what they are dealing with, he said.

"We also have warmer than normal ocean water in the Atlantic," he said.

Reilly encouraged the audience to listen to local officials when they order an evacuation.

During Hurricane Ike, many people waited too long to leave their homes, he said.

"Run from the water and hide from the wind - don't risk your life for your property," he said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an active to extremely active hurricane season with 14 to 23 named storms, eight to 14 hurricanes and three to seven major hurricanes.



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