Disaster Management Coordinator: Battalion Chief Howard Miller
Battalion Chief Howard Miller at TranStar during EOC drill
Harris County Flood Control District’s Inaugral Flood Warning System Mobile Website
The Harris County Flood Control District has launched its inaugural Flood Warning System mobile website designed for quick and easy access to the Harris County Regional Flood Warning System at www.harriscountyfws.org. Residents can monitor rainfall and bayou/stream levels near their homes, places of work and daily commute routes on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere by accessing the mobile application.
Harris County Urges Residents to Prepare: Hurricane Season
(Harris County, TX) – The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) reminds residents that Wednesday, June 1st is the official start of the 2011 hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the 2011 hurricane activity along the Atlantic coast will be more severe than normal with the potential for three to six hurricanes rated at Category level 3, 4, or 5, meaning winds of at least 111 mph. Another respected forecast, from Colorado State University, puts the odds of at least one Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane touching down along a U.S. coastline this season at 72 percent; the long term average is 52 percent.
HCOHSEM urges everyone to prepare now. Your emergency supply kit should include:
· NOAA weather radio and batteries
· Flashlight and batteries
· Extra eye glasses
· Bottled water
· Non-perishable food
· Copies of prescriptions
· Special products for babies, elderly and medically fragile family members
· Cash and credit cards
· Photo ID, important documents and records
If you live in an area threatened by storm surge – an EVACUATION ZONE – discuss evacuation plans with your family. Check with city or county officials to find out if your home is in an evacuation zone.
Make sure your home insurance policy up to speed. If you live in an area prone to flooding, tornadoes, or hurricanes, your standard homeowner's policy may require additional policies to cover flooding and wind damage.
Make a checklist of preparations to be made before an evacuation and go over it with your family. Review it again when a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you plan to stay in a hotel or motel, make reservations and confirm your reservations before you leave. If you plan to stay in a shelter, bring what you need to be comfortable, including bedding and toys for kids.
Prepare an emergency kit for your pets and a plan for how to care for them when you are on the road and in a shelter or motel. Do not leave your pets behind!
Finally, stay informed by monitoring the news media. Local officials will provide information about current conditions, evacuations and re-entry.
Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.
Get more hurricane preparedness information at HCOHSEM's web site www.hcoem.org and at the Texas Division of Emergency Management http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/pages/weather_aware_hurricane.htm.
Insurance Protection Should Be Part of Hurricane Preparation
AUSTIN – With the official start of hurricane season on June 1, the Texas Department of Insurance encourages you to take some time to refamiliarize yourself with your insurance policies and to address any questions with your agent or company.
Get Prepared: Review and Update Your Insurance
To begin a review, start with your home inventory. Creating an inventory and storing it in a safe location away from home is one of the most basic – and effective – disaster preparedness steps you can take to help protect yourself and your financial future. A home inventory can save you time and headaches when filing a claim following a disaster.
You can download and print a home inventory checklist from the TDI website: http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/pubs/consumer/cb086.pdf
It is important to review your inventory each year. Remember to note the make, model, serial number, purchase price and date of purchase of any new items and keep copies of receipts for major purchases with your inventory.
Also, make sure you know whether your policy includes coverage for replacement cost or actual cash value in case of a loss. Actual cash value (ACV) is the amount it would take to repair damage to your home or to replace its contents after allowing for depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild or replace your home and its contents with similar quality materials or goods, without deducting for depreciation.
Store copies of your insurance policies with your inventory in a safe location away from your home, so that these records can be easily retrieved in the event of a loss. Before you store the insurance policies, review them to verify that they meet your needs. Make sure you know your policy limits, deductibles, exclusions and policyholder claims notification requirements, before disaster strikes.
Keep a list of contact details for your insurance agent and/or company with your policies. Include office phone numbers, mailing addresses, website addresses and all of your policy numbers for quick reference. Email this information to yourself in case you're separated from your hard copy list.
Make sure you have windstorm insurance. If your property is located in one of Texas' 14 coastal counties, or parts of southeastern Harris County, your homeowners policy may not provide windstorm coverage. You may be able to obtain insurance coverage for windstorm or hail damage from a special insurance pool called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). It's important to note that you cannot buy or change TWIA coverage once a hurricane is in or near the Gulf of Mexico. If you currently have TWIA coverage, review your policy carefully and know your policy limits. Compare your TWIA and homeowners policies and determine whether you are insured to an appropriate replacement value. For more information about windstorm coverage and inspection requirements, call your insurance agent or TWIA at (512) 899-4900, or visit TWIA's website at www.twia.org.
Consider flood insurance. Most homeowners and commercial property policies specifically exclude coverage for damage from flooding. To protect yourself from losses caused by rising water, you'll need a separate flood insurance policy, typically from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Flood insurance policies usually have a 30-day waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect on currently owned property, so don't wait until a flooding threat is imminent. To obtain flood insurance contact your insurance agent or NFIP at 1-888-FLOOD 29 (356-6329) or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Note: for certain TWIA policyholders, flood coverage is required effective 9/1/2009; for more information about this requirement, contact your insurance agent or TWIA.
Make a safety plan. If a hurricane threatens your area, you may have to make a decision whether to stay in your home or evacuate. Whenever local authorities recommend evacuation, you should leave. The advice of authorities is based on knowledge of the strength of the storm and its potential for destruction.
-Map out safe routes inland or to safer areas. If you live in a low-lying area, know where low-water crossings might make travel to safety more difficult and plan routes that avoid these areas.
-Find out the location of any nearby community shelters in case you must seek immediate shelter.
-When a hurricane watch is issued for your area - an alert that a storm has not yet hit, but conditions are likely in the days or hours ahead - regularly check TV and radio for official weather bulletins.
-If you decide that it's safe for you to stay, understand that you may be without electricity, fresh water, and phone service for some time and prepare accordingly. Stock up on canned goods and bottled water, check supplies of medicines and first-aid equipment, and check batteries in radios and flashlights.
-Work out a way for family members to communicate in case you must leave your home or if there is a disruption in local phone service. For instance, agree on a friend or relative who lives outside your immediate area who can serve as a point of contact in an emergency.
Protect your property. When a hurricane watch is issued for your area, taking a few measures in advance may help prevent or minimize damage to your home or property.
-Protect windows, sliding glass doors, and skylights with shutters or plywood.
-Put your car in a garage or other shelter. Secure boats and trailers. Secure outdoor furniture and any other loose material outside.
-If possible, trim back any dead wood from trees. This will reduce the amount of wind stress on trees and eliminate potential damage from falling limbs.
-Move valuables away from windows and, if possible, to an upper floor.
-Bring pets indoors or make other arrangements for their safety. If you must seek shelter in a community shelter, understand that you may not be able to keep your pets with you. Contact your local humane society for information about animal shelters.
-If you are leaving your home, lock and secure the premises. Take small valuables and important documents with you.
For more information:
If you have questions about insurance, call TDI's toll-free Consumer Help Line: 1-800-252-3439
or visit the TDI website: www.tdi.state.tx.us.
Accessible Emergency Info
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities
Harris County Fire Marshal
Harris County Flood Control
Harris County Flood Warning System
Harris County Office of Emergency Management
Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES)
National Weather Service
Ozone Levels (TCEQ)
Texas Department of Transportation
TranStar Traffic Map
US Consumer Product Safety Commission
US Fire Administration