Summer has begun and, in Houston, as along the Atlantic coast, that means it is Hurricane Season from now through the last day of November. Being from southern California I know Santa Ana winds, fire season, fog so thick you can cut it with a knife, and earthquakes; I even thought I knew thunder and lightning storms, and summer heat…until I moved here.
A few weeks ago we had an all-night thunderstorm that left 4 to 8 in. of rain, and the sound and light show was continuous and unlike anything I’d ever experienced. More recently I experienced the same, during a 4 hour morning deluge after leaving a doctor’s appointment (Near darkness at 10am was only part of the experience).
It has only been 5 years since Hurricane Ike paid a visit to this area and, Houston holds an annual Houston/Galveston National Weather Service Hurricane Workshop for preparing residents for hurricane season through presentations, interactive exhibits, hurricane forecasting and more. This has become an even more important event because, in recent years, the number of
newcomers to the region has grown, and we all should be edumicated so we don’t freak out.
The event was held yesterday, at the George Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston and I want to share my thoughts on attending. It was only 5 hours, and while there were a few presentations at the main stage I decided the best thing for me was to gather information for further reading and future planning.
After a half hour opening remarks, by the mayor and others, everyone entered the exhibition hall. For me, the most important things I picked up in my rounds of all the booths were various city, county, state and local TV hurricane and disaster preparedness guides.
Evacuation route maps and zip code maps showing areas that could be affected by storm surge, an abnormal rise in water levels coming inland from the coast, showed me where I lived in relation to those areas most likely affected. I learned that, living well west of downtown, I am out
Not being in an evacuation zone a person such as I can concentrate on knowledge for other preparations, including staying in place if safe to do so. That being said, concerns about damage to property due to winds, and sewer drain overflow on streets, plus flooding from the bayous are still of concern to outlying areas, not to mention power outages that could last from days to weeks.
I chatted with a man from the Harris County Flood Control District who checked my address on a computer map; he explained that I didn’t live in a flood plain, but in between. On one side of my area is Buffalo Bayou; on the other side is Brays Bayou and tributaries from Brays drain west, while those from Buffalo drain north. This means if their water levels dangerously exceed
normal the excess goes in those directions.
Harris County gets an average of 48 inches of rain a year, which is amazing to contemplate for a lifelong southern Californian.
I collected forms and guides for planning, getting supplies, organizing documents, evacuation, and preparing to ride out a storm, before, during, and after the event. If all you came here for was to pick up info on preparing survival kits you would get a ton of information to learn from. The amount of information can be a bit overwhelming when you finally start pouring over it.
One of the more interesting things I snagged, from someone who had no need of it, was a copy of the Harris County Flood Control District Media Guide, the purpose of which is to “serve as a quick reference for reporters covering the agency.”
The displays at various booths were interesting and informative and there were even exhibits especially for educating children.
Among the freebies given out, aside from the usual assortment of pens, pencils and notepads, were nifty red flashing lights once can attach to the back of a bike, or a stroller, or even stick on a backpack, a pair of DVD’s (one on surviving an active e shooter event, another on regional
disaster preparedness.) and a deck of playing cards with info on one side of each card about preparedness for hurricanes and tropical storms.
I also picked up a cool looking rain gauge, but don’t know what I’ll do with it, though it’s nice to have.
There were various pet preparedness booths and displays, with the largest and most interactive being that by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. The Houston Humane Society, Harris County Disaster Animal Management Task Force, and Houston BARC were in attendance as well. They were all there to help pet owners prepare for, plan for and stay informed about, approaching storms.
Somewhere I was given a card about and encouraged to attend, the Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows, next month, at Reliant Park.
The highlight of the day was meeting the chief meteorologist/weatherperson for KHOU Channel 11 news, David Paul as well as his colleague meteorologist Chita Johnson. They were very good sports in signing their photo cards to my cats, with the message “Be Purrpared!!”
His was to Nikita, hers to Elvira.
So, now to prepare to "batten down the hatches".