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Texas Coastal Residents On Alert As Atlantic Hurricane Season Shows No Signs Of Relenting

Hurricane Harvey Satellite Image On August 25th, 2017
Hurricane Harvey Satellite Image On August 25th, 2017

Since mid-July, the Atlantic hurricane season has been very quiet, despite a rowdy start to the season, including Hurricane Elsa, which became a tropical storm, dumping huge amounts of flooding rain along the eastern seaboard. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the season is about to light up again. In their most recent prediction, NOAA says there are even greater odds now for an above average hurricane season. The number of named storms is likely to be fifteen to twenty one, seven to ten hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes. That's an increase over the earlier prediction of thirteen to twenty named storms. For those who live along the Texas coast, this means keeping a much closer watch on the weather and making decisions on how to prepare for an imminent storm.

Dale Rankin lives on North Padre Island near Corpus Christi. He feels like he's been lucky for the past several years.

“We play chicken with hurricanes,” he said. “They come right at us down here on Padre Island and then turn right before they get to it.”

But in case of a strong hurricane headed his way, he has a plan.

We try to keep documents and the stuff that you need, but you keep all this stuff that you… good thing about a hurricane, if there is a good thing, is you can see it coming. It's not like a tornado. You've got a couple of days to get ready. And so you can get all the stuff that you need. I've got a hurricane locker and I can put it in there and you know, your papers and whatever the valuables that you want to take with you. And so I head for San Antonio, typically,” he said.

Raeanne Reed lives in Port Aransas. The devastation of Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017 is still fresh on her mind. She lived in a trailer park and decided to evacuate.

We only had a 48 hour notice,” says Reed. “So I started making arrangements…I didn't have a car at the time, unfortunately. I had just got back from Hawaii. So I called a girlfriend of mine who was leaving town, and she told me, I'll give you one box and you can set your cat in your lap and I'll take you to San Antonio, where you goin?”

Reed lived in a hotel paid for by FEMA for eight months after Harvey. For the next hurricane, she has advice for others.

Put gas in your car, get extra water, and be good friends with your friends out of town, cause you’re gonna be calling them up at the last minute. Hey, man, can I come stay the night with my cat? And they hate to hear you’re bringing your pets too…but other than that, what can you do?” she asks.

Last year, Amanda Steffen and her husband Matt purchased the Sunset House Motel and RV Park in Port Mansfield. As they were in the process of taking over the property, they got a surprise visit…from Hurricane Hanna.

Steffen describes the damage.

“Trees down…There were multiple rooms where the ceilings from the second floor caved in to the first floor, flooring, windows, siding, gutters, roof,” she said

Steffen says they learned some hard lessons.

“One of the things that we've learned is that you have to have retractable shutters for your windows or you have to have plywood for every single window on your property,” said Steffen.

Before the hurricane struck, she got a phone call.

The morning it hit,” she said, “the chief of police called me and said, Ma'am, I know that you're not from around here. Have you been watching the news? And I said, honestly, no, you just woke me up. And he said, I want to let you know that the hurricane will hit Port Mansfield and you may or may not be able to leave once it does. So if I ever get that call again or they ever make that alert, I will...I mean, if it ever gets to that point, I guess I think we'll probably just get out of town…shut everything down.”

The American Red Cross has a hurricane safety checklist. It recommends that in case of evacuation, you should make your plans early, know where you will go, how you will get there and where you'll stay, or if you plan to attempt to shelter safely, be prepared to be without water, electricity, gas, phone or Internet for a long time. You should plan on moving to higher ground or a designated safe shelter for high winds.

If this year turns out to be an above average year for hurricanes, it'll be the sixth consecutive season of above average tropical activity.

For information about current hurricane predictions, go toNOAA.gov and you can go to Redcross.orgfor more hurricane preparedness tips.

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Jerry Clayton can be reached at jerry@tpr.org or on Twitter at @jerryclayton.