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HURRICANE GUIDE For the City of Alice & Jim Wells County


Alice’s only locally owned and operated newspaper

This OFFICIAL Hurricane Safety Guide is brought to you by The City of Alice, Jim Wells County and Being prepared is the best defense against a coming hurricane. Use this guide to help you and your family plan ahead for a possible hurricane in our area.

Nicole D. Perez Publisher - Editor

Tony Morris Publisher Emeritus

Lois Stephens Office Manager

Anthony Ruiz Senior Reporter

Brenda Poe News/Graphics

Kyle Hough Marketing

Ph: 668-NEWS(6397) Fax: 664-3875 is an awardwinning news source for Alice, Texas. Locally owned and operated by Real Hometown Media, LLC, the purpose of the newspaper and its Web site is to promote the positive people and events that make Alice unique to South Texas.

2 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

Be informed

H Earth.

urricanes are the most destructive natural weather occurrences on

What is a Hurricane? A hurricane is a powerful storm system with a large low pressure center that produces intense winds and heavy rainfall. How Much Destruction Can a Hurricane Cause? Hurricanes can cause billions of dollars worth of property damage every year to man-made fixtures as well as to natural surroundings such as trees and shrubbery. These storms can also change an area’s landscape; resulting in hills, roads and trails washing away. Hurricane Tidbits • Hurricanes have male and female names, but at one point only female names were used. • Most hurricanes rage harmlessly in the sea. • Australians call hurricanes, “willy-willies.” • The New England Hurricane of 1938 is reported to have had the fastest forward speed for a hurricane at 70 mph. The forward speed for an average hurricane is less than 20 mph. • Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1 to November 30. • The term hurricane has its origin in the indigenous religions of old civilizations. The Mayan storm god was named Hunraken.

A god considered evil by the Taino people of the Caribbean was called Huracan. Hurricanes may not be considered evil but they are one of nature’s most powerful storms.

Depressions and Storms Tropical depressions and tropical storms, while generally less dangerous than hurricanes, still can be deadly. The winds of tropical depressions and tropical storms are usually not the greatest threat. Heavy rains, flooding and severe weather, such as tornadoes, create the greatest threats from tropical storms and depressions. Did You Know? • On the average, 10

tropical cyclones develop in the North Atlantic each year. Of these, six may strengthen to hurricane proportion, of which two are likely to strike the coast of the United States. • Hurricane winds in the northern hemisphere circulate in a counterclockwise motion around the hurricane’s center or “eye,” while hurricane winds in the southern hemisphere circulate clockwise. • The Galveston, Texas, hurricane in 1900 was the natural disaster that resulted in the most deaths in United States history. This hurricane took 8,000 lives.

2014 Hurricane Names Arthur Bertha Cristobal Dolly Edouard Fay Gonzalo Hanna Isaias Josephine Kyle

Laura Marco Nana Omar Paulette Rene Sally Teddy Vicky Wilfred

Are you ready for a Hurricane?

Here’s what you can do to prepare for such an emergency

If you will need help evacuating in the event of a hurricane, you can now register in advance for a ride... Call 2•1•1 and choose option #4

Jim Wells County Emergency Management

200 North Almond Street • Alice, Texas

668-1018 • 668-2807

Judge Arnold Saenz, Administrator

Israel Lopez, Safety Officer

JWC ready for hurricane season

Story by Anthony Ruiz



ith hurricane season just around the corner, County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz said preparation is underway to ensure that Jim Wells County and its citizens are ready for severe weather conditions. “The odds are against us,” Judge Saenz said. “We’ve been lucky in the past, but there’s always the chance that we’ll get something.” Saenz, the emergency management director for the county, said public awareness is a key step in making sure county residents know what to do to prepare for the hurricane season. “We’re going to go out and distribute flyers on hurricane preparedness,” he said. Saenz said residents should put together an emergency kit filled with food, water and other supplies. “If we have to evacu4 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

As the Emergency Management Director, County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz responds to residents after any type of emergency or disaster. He is pictured here with Orange Grove residents after recent bad weather caused much property damage. ate, you’ll want to make sure that whatever you take is necessary for you and your family,” he said. “Medicine, formula, diapers, money, anything like that.” Last year, a major concern was road construction on evacuation routes, such as the overpass on U.S. Highway 281. Saenz said the overpass has since opened up and will not be an issue this year in case of evacuation. For county residents needing assistance, Saenz recommends registering the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) by visiting https://STEAR.dps. or calling 2-1-1

on the phone. “They can tell them the disabilities they have, whether actual medical disabilities or transportation deficiencies,” he said. “Maybe their car isn’t sufficient to get them to San Antonio, which is going to be our hub if we do evacuate. Under that system, we’ll take their information and it’ll go into our database.” In preparation, county emergency management staff attended the 2014 Coastal Bend Hurricane Conference held in early May at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, as well as the 2014 Texas Emergency Management

Conference held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio the following week. “We do everything we can to be prepared,” Saenz said. Saenz said the county’s commissioners play a key role in making sure their equipment is on high ground, fueled and ready to go in an emergency situation. “Of course, we want to situate them strategically throughout the county to make sure that they won’t be in a low place where there might be flooding,” he said. “They need to be ready in case there are any fallen trees or we need to clear roads or anything like that.” The Sheriff’s department is also vital in hurricane preparedness, especially in maintaining traffic control in cases of evacuation. Emergency medical services (EMS) through AirMed is another important entity for the county. Saenz said a big push this year has been in educating the county’s IT staff in emergency preparedness. “We felt that they needed to know,” he said. “Technology is going to be a big player now in any

Continued, Page 14

City of Alice: Be Prepared CITY OF ALICE


s the area enters hurricane season, City of Alice Emergency Management Coordinator Dean Van Nest said his message to the city’s residents remains the same: be prepared. The problem, he said, is that because it’s been 44 years since a major hurricane has impacted the area, there are many residents who might not understand the importance of being prepared for the possibility becoming a reality. “If you’ve never experienced a major hurricane in your life, then you don’t know what bad is yet,” he said. “You’ve maybe seen it on television, but you haven’t lived it or experienced it.” In 1970, Hurricane Celia, one of Texas’s most devastating storms, made landfall in Corpus Christi. The aftermath resulted in several counties, including Jim Wells, being

declared disaster areas. “When bad is bad, there’s nothing worse,” Van Nest said. Van Nest experienced a major storm firsthand when Hurricane Hugo hit while he was stationed in South Carolina with the U.S. Air Force in 1989. “I was 90 miles inland and the eye of the storm went right over,” he said. “It wasn’t as strong as it was on the coast, but it was four days later before we had power again. I spent my days off working with the local volunteer fire department.” While El Nino conditions could result in a slower-than-average storm season, Van Nest said all it takes is one. “And you have to think, ‘What do I have to do if it comes here?’” he said. One advantage Alice has over the coastal cities is that it is far enough inland to not have to worry about tidal flooding and storm surge. However, it does have to deal with heavy rains, wind, fresh water inland flooding and tornadoes. “We take inland flooding very serious because that’s the second leading cause of death in a storm versus storm surge,” Van Nest said. “And Alice does have a significant flood history.” While Alice does have

protection from a 100year flood with the San Diego Creek Levee, Van Nest said a strong storm can bring enough rain to exceed the levee. “While we’ve put a lot of work in place into the levee to ensure that it’s up to standards, there’s still that chance,” he said. To prepare for hurricane season, Van Nest along with city and county emergency management staff attended the 2014 Coastal Bend Hurricane Conference held in early May at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, which closed with a four-hour HurrEvac, or Hurricane Evacuation, training exercise at which attendees took part in a Category 4 hurricane scenario. “We’ve always tried to work as one,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat. A city issue is a county issue, so that’s why we work side-byside.” Van Nest said one issue they have to prepare for in the event of a major weather event is the loss of communications, which can make coordination with rescue and first line responders in the field, as well as contact with other emergency management teams in the area, difficult.

Story by Anthony Ruiz “Depending on the severity of a storm, we’ll start losing phone lines, power, cell sites, internet connectivity, we’ll be dealing with that,” he said. “While we do have things in place to try and overcome some of that, there’ll still be challenges from normal day-to-day operations.” Van Nest said in the event of a major storm, residents need to be prepared to take action to help themselves. “Right now is the time to be ready,” he said. “Do you have a plan? Do you know what you’re going to do? Are you ready to do that plan?” Van Nest said having having at least a threeday supply of food and water is important, and recommended visiting for information on building a hurricane supply kit. Van Nest said mandatory evacuation is considered when the hurricane is at a Category 3 or higher. He said if evacuation is necessary, residents should not attempt to stay behind and put their lives at risk. “While we will endeavor to do our best to help everybody, the more that people can care for themselves, the better off we are as a community,”

Continued, Page 14 2014 Hurricane Guide • 5

Being prepared is the key this season • First aid kit and manual • Emergency food and water • Nonelectric can opener • Essential medicines • Cash and credit cards • Sturdy shoes



urricanes can be dangerous killers. Learning the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce the chances of injury or major property damage. Here are some tips to help you be prepared in the event a hurricane strikes our area: Plan an evacuation route This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters. Learn safe routes inland Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place.

6 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a hurricane Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water. Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information. Protect your windows Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels.

Check into flood insurance You can find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent or emergency management office. There is normally a 5-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective. Homeowners’ policies do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane. Develop an emergency communication plan In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (this is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long dis-

tance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. Have a first aid kit, which includes: Prescription medications, betadine solution, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, sterile pads, band aids, triangular bandages, safety scissors, nonprescription medication, sun screen, insect repellent, etc. DURING A HURRICANE WATCH • Listen to a batteryoperated radio or television for hurricane progress reports. • Check emergency supplies. • Fuel car. • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools, and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside. • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. • Remove outside antennas. • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.

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Have disaster supplies on hand • Flashlight and extra batteries • Portable, batteryoperated radio and extra batteries

Make arrangements for pets Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines. Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.

Use 1/2 inch plywood— marine plywood is best— cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm. Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.

• Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils. • Review evacuation plan. • Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. • Use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house.

During Strong Winds • Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered. • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway. • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors. • In a two-story house,

go to an interior firstfloor room, such as a bathroom or closet. • In a multiple-story building, go to the first or second floors and stay in interior rooms away from windows. • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object. If officials indicate evacuation is necessary: • Leave as soon as possible. • Avoid flooded roads and watch for washedout bridges. • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve. • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture to protect it from

flooding or better yet, move it to a higher floor. • Bring pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm protective clothing. • Take blankets and sleeping bags to shelter. • Lock up home and leave. • Stay tuned to local radio and for information. Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police, or fire department. • Enter your home with caution. • Beware of snakes, insects, or animals driven to higher ground

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DURING A HURRICANE WARNING • Listen constantly to a battery-operated radio or television for official instructions. • If in a mobile home, check tiedowns and evacuate immediately. • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your

home. • Avoid elevators. If at home: • Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors. • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light. • If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.

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2014 Hurricane Guide • 7






















This Hurricane Tracking map is sponsored by:

Important terms Hurricane / Typhoon: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline.

10 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

though winds may be less than hurricane force. Hurricane Watch: An announcement that sustained winds of 64 knots (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or higher are possible within the specified area in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.

Indirect Hit: Generally refers to locations that do not experience a direct hit from a tropical cyclone, but do experience hurricane force winds (either sustained or gusts) or tides of at least 4 feet above normal. Eye: The roughly circular area of comparatively light winds that encompasses the center of a severe tropical cyclone. The eye is either completely or partially surrounded by the eyewall cloud.


Hurricane Warning: An announcement

that sustained winds of 64 knots (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical, subtropical, or posttropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-stormforce winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even

Eyewall / Wall Cloud: An organized band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye, or light-wind center of a tropical cyclone. Eyewall and wall cloud are used synonymously. Storm Surge: An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide. Storm Tide: The actual level of sea water resulting from the astronomic tide combined with the storm surge. Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 33 kt (38 mph or 62 km/hr) or less. Tropical Disturbance: A discrete tropical weather system of apparently organized convection - generally 100 to 300 nmi in diameter originating in the tropics or subtropics, having a nonfrontal migratory character, and maintaining its identity for 24 hours or more. It may or may not be associated with a detectable perturbation of the wind field.

Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 kt (39 mph or 63 km/hr) to 63 kt (73 mph or 118 km/hr). Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph or 63 to 118 km/hr) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph or 63 to 118 km/hr) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone.

maximum amplitude in the lower middle troposphere. Advisory: Official information issued by tropical cyclone warning centers describing all tropical cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions that should be taken. Advisories are also issued to describe: (a) tropical cyclones prior to issuance of watches and warnings and (b) subtropical cyclones. Best Track: A subjectively-

smoothed representation of a tropical cyclone’s location and intensity over its lifetime. The best track contains the cyclone’s latitude, longitude, maximum sustained surface winds, and minimum sea-level pressure at 6-hour intervals. Best track positions and intensities, which are based on a poststorm assessment of all available data, may differ from values contained in storm advisories. They also generally will not reflect the erratic motion implied by connecting individual center fix positions. Center: Generally speaking, the vertical axis of a tropical cyclone, usually defined by the location of minimum wind or minimum pressure. The cyclone center position can vary with altitude. In advisory products, refers to the center position at the surface. Cyclone: An atmospheric closed circulation rotating counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tropical Wave: A trough or cyclonic curvature maximum in the trade-wind easterlies. The wave may reach 2014 Hurricane Guide •11

Be prepared to Grab & Go in case a hurricane strikes


veryone should have individual and family evacuation plans

in place. Extensive planning should include all members of the family. Keep in mind that an emergency plan may be different for every family, yet there are common elements. However, it is critical that each family have a planned evacuation arrangement and an evacuation “to-go” box ready for emergencies. This is different from your disaster kit. Steps to Creating Your “Grab and Go: Box Step 1 • Place papers in sealed, waterproof plastic bags. • Store in a durable, sealed box. (A portable, fireproof and waterproof box or waterproof backpack is recommended.) Step 2 • Store box/backpack at home in a secure, easily accessible location. Step 3 If you must evacuate: • Grab box and take with you. • Keep the box with you at all times. • Do not leave box unattended in your car. 12 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

Your “Grab and Go” Box Should Include: 1. Cash or traveler’s checks for several day’s living expenses. 2. Rolls of quarters. 3. Emergency phone numbers: • Doctors, pharmacies. • Financial advisors. • Clergy. • Repair contractors. • Family. 4. Copies of important prescriptions: • Medicines. • Eyeglasses. 5. Copies of children’s immunization records. 6. Copies of health, dental, and/or prescription insurance cards or numbers. 7. Copies of auto, flood, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies (at least policy numbers). 8. Insurance company telephone numbers, including local agent and company headquarters. 9. Copies of : • Deeds. • Titles. • Wills and/or trust documents. • Durable power of attorney. • Healthcare directives. • Stock and bond certificates. • Recent investment statements. • Home inventory. • Birth, death, adop-

tion, and marriage certificates. • Passports and other identity documents. • Employee-benefit documents. • First two pages of previous year’s federal and state income tax returns. 10. Back-up copies of computerized financial records. 11. Keys to safe deposit box. 12. Combination to safe. 13. Negatives for irreplaceable personal photos. 14. Computer user names and passwords. 15. List of numbers: • Social Security • Credit Card • Bank Account • Driver’s License • Loan • Investment Account 16. List of debt obligations, due dates, and contact information. It is important to have a safe deposit box to protect your important papers. These boxes are located at local financial institutions. Securing important papers located in a safe deposit box will help to eliminate potential stressful situations if you are unable to take your “grab and go” box with

you during a disaster. For added security, it is recommended that original documents, other than wills, be housed in your safe deposit box. For additional security, these documents should be photocopied or digitally scanned and secured with a trusted out-ofstate friend or family member. Secure in Your Safe Deposit Box: 1. Copies of will/trust. 2. Copies of power of attorney. 3. List of insurance policies. 4. List of financial account numbers. 5. Family birth, marriage, and death certificates. 6. Adoption papers. 7. Citizenship papers. 8. Military service records. 9. Loan agreements. 10. Certificates of deposit. 11. Real estate deeds. 12. Vehicle titles. 13. Mortgage paperwork. 14. Stock and bond certificates. 15. Inventory of home contents. 16. Jewelry/precious metals. 17. Employment contracts, business agreements.

Make sure you register for 2-1-1 I f you will need help evacuating in the event of a hurricane, dial 2-1-1 to register in advance for a ride. Dial 2-1-1 as soon as possible: • If you have a disability or special health care need and require assistance to get out. • If you cannot drive and cannot arrange transportation. • If you do not have a vehicle and you have no one else to help you evacuate.

Frequently Asked Questions • What information do I need to have when registering? An Information and Referral Specialist will ask: Name Address Phone number (there is only room for one number, so please give the best number to call) Contact name Contact relationship (aunt, brother, son, friend, landlord, etc.) Contact phone number Do you need transportation? Do you have any pets or service animals? Do you have a special medical need? The Information and Referral Specialist will ask the type of need you have and list it accordingly. • Who is going to see

my personal information? The state of Texas will provide your information to emergency planners in your immediate area. • Will I receive a call after I am registered? Some emergency managers are not always able to contact individuals who have registered. This is because there are hundreds or thousands of entries in some communities. Emergency management offices will only follow-up with individuals if there is a question/ concern about a particular registrant. However, please keep in mind that just because someone does not get a letter or a phone call does not mean that emergency management does not have their information. In addition, individuals will not receive notification (letter, phone call, etc.) from either the Governor’s Office or the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. The state office does not follow-up with individual registrations in any form. • How long is this registry active?

Do I need to call to update my information? Once you are registered, your information is safe in the database. There is no need to call either 2-1-1 or your local emergency management office to verify registration. This includes people who registered last year. Unless there is a change to your information, you do not need to re-register. • Can I register for someone else, such as my mother or other elderly/ disabled relative? As long as you have the individual’s consent to register them, our technicians can register them with the state database. Please be sure to have complete contact informa-

tion, emergency contact information, and the reason that the individual needs transportation assistance before registering them. • If there is a hurricane and our area needs to evacuate, is someone going to pick me up or call me to see if I need help? Local emergency management will make every attempt to evacuate someone who does not have the ability to evacuate themselves, as long as the person is in the direct path of the storm. In the event of a hurricane entering the Gulf, individuals should pay close attention to local media to determine when/how evacuations will take place. SOURCE: STATE OF TEXAS

Preparedness, From Page 7 by flood water. • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home. • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage. • Take pictures of

the damage, both to the house and its contents for insurance claims. • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. 2014 Hurricane Guide •13

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 categorization based on the hurricane’s intensity at the indicated time. The scale provides examples of the type of damage and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. The following shows the scale broken down by winds:

111 - 129 mph: Devastating damage will occur

74 - 95 mph: Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

96 - 110 mph: Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

> 156 mph Catastrophic damage will occur

130 - 156 mph: Catastrophic damage will occur

City, From Page 5 he said. For residents who are in need of assistance, Van Nest said they should register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR), a program that provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information on the needs in their community. “It used to be the Transportation Assistance Registry (TAR), but it’s

now far more encompassing,” Van Nest said. To register with the STEAR program, visit https://STEAR.dps.texas. gov or call 2-1-1. Van Nest said it is important that residents who need assistance re-register with STEAR every year because the information is cleared from the system on an annual basis. “By March 31, it’s purged,” he said.

“It was designed that way for a couple of reasons, for those who have moved and for those who have passed away. Before, we had to take that TAR registry and had to call everybody, eliminate the duplicates and find out who is here and who is not here.” Van Nest said he could not stress enough the importance of being prepared. “We’re getting prepared

as an agency, and you should be getting prepared as an individual,” he said. “In the past, you’ve heard us talk about the 120-hour timeline, but how close do we live to the coast? Storms can develop close to the coast, and we do not necessarily have five or seven days to prepare for something. We might have 24 hours. “In 24 hours, life can change drastically.”

County, From Page 4 type of hurricane awareness that we have. We plan to put more information on our website, what we’re going to do and things you have to do to prepare, so we feel that our IT department is going to be instrumental in helping us.” Saenz said the IT staff will also play a major role in tagging and identifying county residents, along with any medical equipment and pets, during evacuation using county transportation. Depending on the severity of the storm, Saenz said the county might provide a shelter 14 • 2014 Hurricane Guide

based on the needs of the public. “Those that feel their houses are inadequate during a high rain or high wind storm, housing that is substandard, we will provide shelter for them,” he said. One change this year is in assistance from the Red Cross for the shelters, which Saenz said will not come pre-storm anymore. “In the past, when we opened up shelters, we opened them up prestorm and the Red Cross would come in and help us,” he said. “Now, the Red Cross won’t come in

until post-storm, until after everything. So if we open a shelter pre-storm, we’re going to have to be in charge of it. We’re going to have to train our people.” The evacuation route in Jim Wells County is U.S. Highway 281 heading towards San Antonio. In the event of a mandatory evacuation, Saenz said residents need to be prepared to leave immediately. “I know it’s hard because of the price of gas, but always try to keep a full tank,” he said. “Because you never know when you’ll have to leave

in that type of situation. Always have a container full of emergency supplies that you can just throw in a car and then take off.” Saenz said evacuations will be done in coordination with the surrounding counties to ensure steady traffic flow to San Antonio. “We have a good relationship with all of the other counties and in coordinating with them,” he said. “We hope that we don’t have anything that comes towards us, but we have to have our plan in place. We welcome the rain, but we want slow and gentle.”

Below-average hurricane season predicted for 2014 PREDICTIONS By The Weather Channel


fter one of the quietest hurricane seasons in decades, forecasters with The Weather Channel predict a belowaverage 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. The early outlook released March 24, calls for 11 named storms, including five hurricanes, two of which are predicted to attain major hurricane status (Category 3 or stronger on the SaffirSimpson Hurricane Wind Scale). This is slightly below the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. “The early dynamical model runs suggest another relatively slow season,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist for Weather Services International (WSI), a part of the The Weather Company. “Three independent statistical

techniques all suggest 11 named storms this year.” Here are some questions about this outlook and what it means for you: Q: Does this mean a less destructive hurricane season? There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. “It is important to note that our forecasts are for the total number of storms that may occur anywhere within the Atlantic Ocean, and do not attempt to predict the number of storms that will make landfall in the U.S.,” said Dr. Peter Neilley, vice president of Global Forecasting Services at WSI. In 1983, there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia, a Category 3 hurricane which hit the Houston-Galveston area. The 2010 season featured 12 hurricanes and 19 named storms, which tied 1995 for the third most named storms in any Atlantic season, at the time. But not a single hurricane, and only one tropical storm, made landfall in the U.S during that active season. In other words, a season can deliver many storms, but have little

impact, or deliver few storms and have one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms every year, regardless of seasonal forecasts. Q: Will El Nino play a role? “We feel rather strongly that the first El Niño event since 2009 is on the way later this year,” said Dr. Crawford of WSI. However, where the warming of the equatorial Pacific waters takes place and the magnitude of that warming plays at least a partial role in the number of Atlantic named storms, as explained by storm analyst Carl Parker in the video at right. There have been nine other years where seasurface temperatures (SSTs) in the El Niño zone have matched what is currently forecast: 1951, 1957, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1976, 1982, 1997 and 2002. Those years averaged 11 named storms, 4-5 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes. It should also be noted that eight of these nine years had a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, Crawford. said, and four hurricanes achieved

major hurricane intensity while in the Gulf. Also, despite development of a weak El Niño, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne raked parts of Florida during the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. In short, the exact role El Niño may play on the season remains uncertain. Q: Are there any other factors in play? “We’ve found that the best pre-season predictor is sea-surface temperature anomalies in the tropical North Atlantic region,” Crawford said. “So far, SSTs in this area are rather cool relative to the recent very active seasons.” Looking at the Atlantic Basin as a whole, shown in the graphic at right, note the rather warm SSTs in the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, but generally cooler-than-average temperatures in the strip of the central and eastern Atlantic Ocean east of the Windward Islands to the western African coast. It is important to note, however, that a large majority of the destructive hurricanes during the record-setting 2005 hurricane season developed in the western Atlantic Basin. 2014 Hurricane Guide •15

Stay Safe this Hurricane Season. Be Prepared.

Mayor Larry Martinez

Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Esparza

Yvette Terrell-Johnson

Frank Hinojosa

Raul Chapa

Don’t Delay when you hear the tone. React. Find Shelter.

Tornado Warning

Chemical Spill

The sound slowly rises to its loudest volume and declines to its lowest volume repeatedly for three minutes.

The siren sounds for three minutes.

Wail Tone

Seek shelter in a sturdy room in your house. Stay away from windows and doors until the danger has passed.

Fast Wail

Close all windows and doors. Shut off your air conditioning. Bring in your children and pets. Evacuate if advised by emergency workers, radio announcements, or television announcements.

Danger has Passed Steady Tone

The siren sounds three minutes. This siren means it is safe for you to exit your home. If you spot a tornado, call 9-1-1.

City of Alice,

Office of Emergency Management 601 East Third Street, Alice



You can gain more information on emergency planning from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) at 1-800-480-2520 or and the Red Cross at www.

The Official 2014 Hurricane Guide for the City of Alice and Jim Wells County  

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