As concerns about COVID-19 gripped the Crossroads, the start of hurricane season came and went June 1 without much fuss.
While it may be tempting to focus on one thing at a time, getting ready now can make a big difference if we are unlucky enough to be hit by a hurricane or tropical storm.
“The key to a successful recovery is in how well you prepare,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Rick McBrayer. “Having the right tools in place and knowing how to use them greatly improves your ability to respond to an emergency.”
In true 2020 fashion, we’re due for an above-average hurricane season, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting six to 10 hurricanes. However, McBrayer said his department doesn’t take the forecast into consideration when planning for hurricane season.
“All it takes is one,” McBrayer said.
The Office of Emergency Management and various City departments are already getting ready for the possibility of a hurricane. Here are a few ways you can follow our lead.
Have a plan in place
Before a storm ever enters the Gulf, it’s important to know the steps you’ll take before, during and after the hurricane. To that end, the Office of Emergency Management spends time meeting with City and County officials as well as local partners in health care, utilities and infrastructure to go over disaster plans and ensure efficient coordination in the event of a storm.
National Hurricane Awareness Week kicks off hurricane preparation for the Victoria Fire Department the first week of May as officials review policies and share updates with staff. The department will enter progressive stages of readiness as a storm moves closer, holding meetings between high-level staff and coordinating with the Office of Emergency Management. After a storm passes, the department performs a damage assessment on its own facilities as well as critical infrastructure, such as transportation, utilities and critical care facilities.
For the Victoria Fire Department, disaster kits include not only staples like water and cleaning supplies but also pens and paper, oxygen bottles, chainsaws and anything else firefighters may need to do their jobs. The department also prepares bedding in case firefighters need to evacuate to one of the newer stations and large plastic sheets to cover equipment that’s left behind.
Plastic coverings also factor into disaster planning for the Victoria Public Library, where precious books need to be protected in case the roof leaks. The library will be better protected after it installs new storm shutters that are being funded in part by a Texas Division of Emergency Management grant. The project is expected to be completed this fall.
Get your paperwork in order
McBrayer advised residents to make sure their insurance policies are up to date, even if they believe they’re covered for hurricane damage.
“You need to sit down with your adjuster or agent and make sure you’re covered not only if your roof is damaged but if your house floods,” McBrayer said.
Environmental Services has finalized contracts with AshBritt, a debris management company, and TetraTech, a monitoring service company, to make sure roads are clear of debris and all debris is removed after a storm. Not only does this ensure residents and government workers can travel safely, but it’s a requirement in order for the City and County to receive reimbursement from FEMA.
Be sure to have copies of all your important paperwork—including insurance policies, property deeds and birth and marriage licenses—ready to take with you if you need to evacuate.
Make sure you have backup power
If the power goes out during a storm, it’s important to have a backup power supply on hand, such as battery packs or a generator and plenty of fuel. City maintenance crews perform tests on generators throughout the year, but as hurricane season starts, they take it a step further by simulating a power outage at each location, allowing generators to power sites for hours at a time to be sure they won’t fail or become overloaded.
The Office of Emergency Management is watching the tropics and will work with Communications & Public Affairs to release information on any storm that becomes a threat to our region.