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Officials say traffic is large concern for Lavaca County

By Jessica Rodrigo
June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.

Lavaca County's location has kept it out of the path of major storms and hurricanes.

"Lavaca County is a pass-through community," said County Judge Tramer Woytek. "Because we're not a coastal community, the decision to move for a hurricane would probably be a rarity."

Many of the Crossroads' residents will pass through Lavaca, he said, taking U.S. Highway 77 and state Highway 111.

If and when a storm nears, Woytek said, the most important thing for people to do is to stay informed. Listening to the weather station and checking advisories online or on TV can keep people prepared, he said.

When a decision is made for the county to call a mandatory evacuation, officials would activate its emergency operations center, where Woytek and other officials, including Emergency Management Coordinator and Sheriff Micah Harmon, would meet to decide what steps to take to make sure people are out of danger.

Secondary routes in the county would be used to avoid traffic and alleviate some bottlenecking, said Woytek.

"County roads will take citizens out in an orderly fashion and are paved and free of low-water crossings," Woytek said.

Harmon and other law enforcement officials would serve as traffic control at major intersections, which is where traffic from many other counties will meet during an evacuation.

"In years past, with Ike and Katrina, we experienced a lot of evacuation from the coast," he said. "It was quite a mess."

Preparation - including having extra fuel or supplies - can help alleviate some of the traffic and headache during storm season, Harmon said.

Both officials said it's important to stay informed for the duration of hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.

"If the order is given, you need to be prepared for that, and if you have somewhere to go, leave early," Harmon said.

Woytek said the earlier a person can protect his or her home and leave for a relative's place or move inland, the better it will be. Residents don't have to wait for a phone call to leave, he said.

"There is no government entity that can make better preparation than yourself," he said. "We are here to help and assist as we can, but the large majority should be on the shoulders of the citizens themselves."

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