Just about anyone who’s spent more than a little time near the Gulf Coast of Texas has lived through their fair share of severe storms. Toughing it out during hurricane season is a point of pride and a rite of passage.
Where others might flee, South Texas residents can be seen fishing off of crumbling piers in the middle of storm surges or piloting their flat-bottom boat up to a flooded Whataburger drive-thru. Once a storm passes, we’re known to help each other patch up our roofs, clean up our homes and recover from the damage.
This resilient, devil-may-care attitude is one of the things that sets our communities apart. In many ways, it is something to celebrate.
But it should not blind us to the dangers of hurricane season, either.
This year alone, we’ve already endured two severe weather events that have put even seasoned veterans to the test. The February freeze and accompanying power outages plunged thousands of homes into the 30s and 40s, and busted pipes flooded thousands more.
Two Lavaca County residents died as a result of the freeze, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Then, in May, the Crossroads was doused with as much as 10.5 inches of rain, leading to flooding and road closures and forcing first responders to rescue more than a dozen people from their vehicles in Victoria alone.
And that’s before hurricane season has even begun.
Those two events reminded us that Mother Nature always finds a way to surprise us. That’s why even those who lived through Harvey, the floods of 1998 or Carla should take some basic steps to prepare for hurricane season.
No, that doesn’t mean barricading yourself inside your home at the mere sight of a raindrop.
But it does mean signing up for your city or county’s reverse 911 system, which can be easily found on most counties’ websites or by calling your local emergency management coordinator.
It also means getting you or your loved ones with limited mobility — including the elderly, homebound and those with medical needs — signed up for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, which can be done by simply calling 211. Signing up allows officials to provide targeted assistance in the midst of a disaster.
It means putting together a basic disaster kit with food, water, flashlights, medication and rain gear. It might mean purchasing flood insurance — which takes 30 days to go into effect, so earlier is better — or reviewing your local evacuation routes.
Texas has put together a preparedness website at gov.texas.gov/hurricane with plenty of other tips.
Taking these basic steps doesn’t mean giving up our coastal way of life. In fact, it will help us preserve it by making us more ready to withstand whatever nature throws our way.
Preparedness is not paranoia. It’s just common sense.