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Emergency officials urge hurricane preparedness

By BY ADRIANA ACOSTA
June 4, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.

The Oxea/Celanese plant in Bay City shows visitors to the conference the types of emergency equipment their Rescue HAZMAT truck has. The plant has an agreement with county emergency preparedness and can be used in emergency situations.

BAY CITY - Kathy Laurie and her family were moving into their new house in 2008 when they were told by Matagorda County officials they needed to evacuate.

Hurricane Ike was heading their way and was predicted to make landfall on the Texas coast.

"This was not the welcome I was expecting," she said.

Laurie's family now prepares for hurricane season by attending the annual Matagorda County Community Hurricane Awareness Conference, which took place Saturday at the Bay City Civic Center.

"We have this conference every year to educate and inform residents in the county about hurricane season," said Doug Mathis, Matagorda County emergency management coordinator.

The conference is organized by several agencies, including the American Red Cross, Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Mathis said they want residents to be prepared and know what to do and where to go when a hurricane is heading their way.

A panel of experts from local emergency agencies answered questions from the public about evacuation routes, special needs, transportation and emergency preparedness.

Lance Wood, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston, spoke about the 2011 hurricane season outlook.

"We are fairly confident that this hurricane season will be above normal range, but not confident about how active it will be," he said.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted 12 to 18 named storms. Six to 10 could be come hurricanes with three to six becoming major hurricanes.

The threat is always there if you live along the Texas Coast, Wood said.

"It only takes one hurricane to make landfall to affect you." he said.

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