The OFFICIAL 2012
for the City of Alice & Jim Wells County
Brought to you by Alice24-7.com
Aliceâ€™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 Alice24-7.com. 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.
2012 Hurricane Names Alberto - already used Beryl - already used Chris Debby
Nicole D. Perez Publisher - Editor
Ph: 668-NEWS(6397) Fax: 664-3875 alice24-7.com is an award-winning, new 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.
Kirk Leslie Michael Nadine Oscar Patty Rafael Sandy Tony Valerie William
2 • 2012 Hurricane Guide
Did You Know
u 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. u 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. u 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.
Are Areyou Youready Readyfor for aa Hurricane? Hurricane?
Here’s candodototoprepare prepare for such an emergency Here’swhat what you you can for such an emergency Know what a hurricane WATCH and WARNING means ✔ WATCH: Hurricane conditions
are possible in the specified area of the WATCH, usually within 36 hours.
✔ WARNING: Hurricane conditions
are expected in the specified area of the WARNING, usually within 24 hours.
Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan ✔ Identify ahead of time where you
could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places—a friend’s home in another town, a motel, or a shelter.
✔ Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality. You may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.
✔ Listen to NOAA Weather Radio
or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit containing— ✔ First aid kit and essential medications.
✔ Canned food and can opener. ✔ At least three gallons of water per person.
✔ Protective clothing, rainwear,
and bedding or sleeping bags.
✔ Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
✔ Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
✔ Written instructions on how to
turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)
Prepare for high winds
✔ Listen to the advice of local
officials, and leave if they tell you to do so.
✔ Complete preparation activities. ✔ If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows.
✔ Install hurricane shutters or 1/2”
outdoor purchase precut plywood boards for each window of your home. Install anchors for the plywood and predrill holes in the plywood so that you can put it up quickly.
✔ Make trees more wind resistant
by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through.
Know what to do when a hurricane WATCH is issued ✔ Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for upto-date storm information.
✔ Prepare to bring inside any lawn
furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind.
✔ Prepare to cover all windows of
your home. If shutters have not been installed, use precut plywood as described above. Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended.
✔ Fill your car’s gas tank. ✔ Recheck manufactured home tie-downs.
✔ Check batteries and stock up on
canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water, and medications.
If you will need help evacuating in the event of a hurricane, you can now register in advance No. NOAA PA 94053 for aStock ride... or CallARC 4454 Rev. July 1998 2•1•1 and choose option #4
Identify what to do when a hurricane WARNING is issued
✔ Be aware that the calm “eye” is
deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds.
✔ Be alert for tornadoes. Tornadoes can happen during a hurricane and after it passes over. Remain indoors, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows.
✔ Stay away from flood waters. If
you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car and climb to higher ground.
Know what to do after a hurricane is over ✔ Keep listening to NOAA Weather
Radio or local radio or TV stations for instructions.
✔ If you are evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe to do so.
✔ Inspect your home for damage. ✔ Use flashlights at all times; avoid using candles.
Jim Wells County Your local contact is:
200 North Almond Street • Alice, Texas
668-1018 • 668-2807 Israel Lopez, Safety Officer
Judge Arnold Saenz, Administrator
Trained for the worst-case scenario W ith Jim Wells County’s proximity to the Gulf Coast, hurricanes are a very real danger to the safety of its residents. The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Wally Alanis said Jim Wells County has a thorough plan in place to respond to different hurricane situations. “We just recently attended a conference in Robstown which brought together some local entities to ensure we all participate together,” Alanis said. “Additionally, last week we went through a practice to make sure everything is in place. The county will respond according to the severity of the storm and its projected path.” The main priority is the destination of the hurricane, Alanis said. “In the event of a hurricane, we will be listening closely to the NOAA station and will advise accordingly,” Alanis said. “Judge Saenz and I will coordinate with the State Operations Center to prepare for evacuations if and when they would begin to flow from Corpus Christi and the Valley. 4 • 2012 Hurricane Guide
Jim Wells County
The decision to initiate mandatory evacuations is one that is costly so the situation will always be closely monitored to ensure the decision we make is the correct one.” The Jim Wells County Emergency Management, along with the Safety Office, has specific guidelines and plans in place for hurricane procedures. “One of the great things about the system we have is that we have coordinated well with other counties,” Alanis said. “For example, Judge Neal of Nueces County has agreed to notify us ahead of time before calling for mandatory evacuations. This will help alleviate the congestion on the highways. Similar plans are in effect with county judges in the Valley; this helps to avoid bottlenecking traffic on the highways.” When the status of an incoming hurricane reaches H minus 160, which means the hurricane is 160 hours away, voluntary evacuations are initiated. “At the point where we
are H minus 120, if it is a major hurricane forecasted to hit us directly, we will assess the situation to see if mandatory evacuations are necessary,” Alaniz said. “These type of evacuations are very costly so we monitor where the storm is headed very closely. At the point of H minus 110, we will begin to move the elderly and sick to locations in San Antonio. This will be done before the Valley does so we can keep traffic flowing smoothly. Those who cannot fend for themselves, such as inmates, are evacuated early as well.” In the case of a mandatory evacuation, no emergency services are guaranteed until after the major weather subsides. “If that happens, everybody needs to go,” Alanis said. “We will hunker down in a secure location, most likely the jail, and wait until the winds die down. During the most severe part of the storm, we cannot guarantee emergency services so in a mandatory evacuation,
people will be on their own until the weather subsides. If a mandatory evacuation is issued, then the people, for their safety, need to evacuate.” Safety Officer Israel Lopez said in the event of severe weather, basic supplies can make all of the difference. “Many different things can happen during a hurricane,” Lopez said. “If the power or water lines are compromised, it’s a good idea to have drinking water and candles available. An FM radio to listen to weather warnings, first-aid items, and non-perishable food are also part of a good emergency kit. Having an emergency kit can better prepare you and your family for a hurricane or any other type of disaster.”
winds, 74 mph or more, can destr Debris, such as signs, roofing mat left outside, become flying missile above hurricane strength well inla tered Charlotte, North Carolina— gusts to near 100 mph, downing t
Best defense is preparedness
ity of Alice Emergency Management Coordinator Dean Van Nest can’t stress enough the importance of local residents being prepared this hurricane season. “We’re here to ensure that everybody is kept safe,” the fire chief said. “With that in mind, it has been since the late ’60s since Alice has had significant impact. We’ve had multiple generations that have not experienced a hurricane in their lifetime.” Complacency when a storm is approaching is not the answer. Relying solely on government entities is also not the answer. “I can’t stress having a plan is the most important thing you can do,” Van Nest said. “While we
T: Wind - Hurricane-force
roy buildings and mobile homes. terial, siding, and small items es in hurricanes. Winds can stay and. Hurricane Hugo (1989) bat—about 175 miles inland— with trees and power lines.
SOURCE: AMERICAN RED CROSS
City of Alice are here to support those with needs, those who can help themselves need to do so.” The City of Alice has plans in place to deal with a hurricane situation, but when dealing with something as unpredictable as the weather, sometimes the best-laid plans aren’t enough. “While we’re prepared, we remain flexible on how we deal with this. We don’t want to get a rigid plan because the storm is not going to be nice to me and follow my rules. We are confident city staff will do the job.” Working more closely with the county and school district is key each hurricane season. Van Nest said the entities are all operating with an understanding of their roles. Only the mayor and county judge can order a mandatory evacuation, Van Nest explained. However, if the mayor does not call for a mandatory evacuation but the judge does, then the evacuation moves forward, he said. It is important to
remember that Alice and Jim Wells County are not considered shelter communities. So in the event of a hurricane, local shelters will not open. Also, if a mandatory evacuation is called for, residents should go, as emergency services will likely not be operational. Once wind gusts are sustained at 50 mph, city services will be taken of the streets. If 9-1-1 is called, help will not be coming. “If we get really hit and you stay, be prepared for no water, no electricity. Once winds are below 50 mph, we will provide services again.” What will likely trigger a mandatory evacuation is a Category 3 or greater storm with a direct path to the city or county. Decisions have to be made as weather information is made available. “Every 12 hours or less we look at updates. Somewhere between 36 and 72 hours before the storm arrives, we need to be asking questions about evacuations,” Van Nest said. “How to react is a
challenge.” When Hurricane Ike approached the area in 2008, the mayor called for an evacuation. Ike later shifted to the Houston area. “With Ike, we were in the bullseye at 72 hours. We evacuated those with functional needs and then the storm shifted. We were able to move them back quickly,” Van Nest said. “We are going to err on the side of caution,” he stressed. “One of our keys to success in this upcoming season is the county and city formalizing one unified emergency operations center - one team, one mission, one goal. With improved resources we have quicker communication between the city and county.” Van Nest also encourages anyone with functional needs to register with the 2-1-1 system. Even if a resident has registered, Van Nest asked that they re-register as it is one important source the city will use to call residents in the event they must be evacuated. “Every citizen who can, needs to have their plan in place and be ready to do what they need to do.” 2012 Hurricane Guide • 5
Donâ€™t Wait... Get ready now Preparedness
AMERICAN RED CROSS/FEMA
2012 Hurricane Guide • 7
This Hurricane Tracking map is sponsored by:
2012 Hurricane Guide â€˘11
See GRAB/GO, Page 13
GRAB/GO, From Page 12
NOAA predicts a near-normal season
onditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a nearnormal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, NOAA announced at its Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and home to the Hurricane Research Division.
For the entire sixmonth season, which began June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
Predictions “NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. “But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.” Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms. Favoring storm development in 2012: the continuation of the overall conditions associated with the Atlantic highactivity era that began in 1995, in addition to nearaverage sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, known as the Main Development Region. Two factors now in place that can limit storm development, if they persist, are: strong wind shear, which is hostile to hurricane
formation in the Main Development Region, and cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic. “Another potentially competing climate factor would be El Niño if it develops by late summer to early fall. In that case, conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August-October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “NOAA’s improvement in monitoring and predicting hurricanes has been remarkable over the decades since Andrew, in large part because of our sustained commitment to research and better technology. But more work remains to unlock the secrets of hurricanes, especially in the area of rapid intensification and weakening of storms,” said Lubchenco. Lubchenco added that
more accurate forecasts about a storm’s intensity at landfall and extending the forecast period beyond five days will help America become a more Weather-Ready Nation. In a more immediate example of research supporting hurricane forecasting, NOAA this season is introducing enhancements to two of the computer models available to hurricane forecasters - the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) models. The HWRF model has been upgraded with a higher resolution and improved atmospheric physics. This latest version has demonstrated a 20 to 25 percent improvement in track forecasts and a 15 percent improvement in intensity forecasts relative to the previous version while also showing improvement in the representation of storm structure and size. Improvements to the GFDL model for 2012 include physics upgrades that are expected to reduce or eliminate a high bias in the model’s intensity forecasts. 2012 Hurricane Guide •15
14 â€˘ 2012 Hurricane Guide
Donâ€™t Delay when you hear the tone. React. Find Shelter. Outdoor Siren System Tornado Warning Wail Tone
The sound slowly rises to its loudest volume and declines to its lowest volume repeatedly for three minutes. Seek shelter in a sturdy room in your house. Stay away from windows and doors until the danger has passed.
Danger has Passed Steady Tone
The siren sounds three minutes.
Chemical Spill Fast Wail
The siren sounds for three minutes. 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.
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 www.fema.gov and the Red Cross at www.redcross.org