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New signs to avoid Victoria being flooded with evacuees

By DAVID TEWES
May 3, 2010 at 12:03 a.m.


DID YOU KNOW?

The new signs will not be in place for the 2010 hurricane season, but officials hope to have them ready by next year.

They can also be used to provide information Amber Alerts, fires and similar situations.

Victoria County hopes it can avoid being flooded with hurricane evacuees it's not able to adequately care for the next time a major hurricane threatens.

It had to provide water, food and similar services for 247 families, while emergency personnel were also trying to prepare their own community for Hurricane Ike in 2008. Similar problems occurred with hurricanes Dolly and Rita.

"We want to take the time to be focusing on the life-saving and critical functions that serve Victorians," said Jeb Lacey, Victoria County emergency management coordinator.

Victoria is not an official destination for hurricane evacuees because it is so close to the coast and could suffer the brunt of a hurricane. That's why evacuees are encouraged to go farther inland.

So, Victoria County applied for and received a $347,631 grant to buy and install permanent reader signs. They would be used to direct evacuees from Houston and Corpus Corpus north around Victoria and to such shelter cities as Austin and San Antonio.

Joyce Dean, the county's director of administrative services, told the commissioners court Monday the grant is from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, said

"We had to prove that we had a failure to function - that something went wrong during those disasters," she said. "The failure to function was that we were unable to communicate properly to people trying to evacuate from other areas."

The signs will be erected on pedestals on U.S. 77 south of Spur 91 and on U.S. 59 just north of Victoria.

The signs will direct traffic to the Zac Lentz Parkway loop and then to U.S. 87 or U.S. 77 so they can travel to Austin and San Antonio, Lacey said.

He said it's the perfect opportunity to keep people from out of town informed of emergency conditions.

"The largest impact is that we're going to be able to communicate with a population that traditionally does not get information from this area," he said. "A population coming from Houston or Corpus is not going to be understanding the situation in Victoria."

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