Slightly above average season expected; preparedness is a key


East Bernard Express of East Bernard, Texas

This year, Wharton County Emergency Management is preparing for a slightly above average hurricane season. With more than 14 storms projected to come through the Gulf Coast area, Director Andy Kirkland and Assistant Debbie Cenko are urging people to prepare for the 2016 hurricane season before the storms hit.

"It is always important to be prepared during hurricane season," Kirkland said. "Never let your car go below a half a tank of gas, make sure you have plenty of water and make sure you know your evacuation route."

Kirkland is reminding residents that the hurricane season began in June and continues through November. Texans should begin developing their emergency plans in advance of possible hurricanes or tropical storms.

In 2016, is it easy to stay updated with weather reports during hurricane season through Facebook and the Weather app. Cenko urges everyone to download "The Ready app."

"The ready app is a useful tool for anyone, it allows you to have a hurricane prep checklist, and keeps you updated on ways to make your evacuation easier," said Cenko.

After being informed of all the tools that recent technology has brought to fingertips to make the evacuation and planning easier, Kirkland took to the maps to show how to evacuate the area.

Kirkland and his team has been working with several counties on a safe and easy evacuation plan for Wharton County.

This type of planning has to be done each year in Texas because of the number of people moving into Houston and the Gulf Coast region.

The number of people moving into the area is so large that the Emergency Management teams have to take extra measuies to make sure that the evacuation routes don't run out of resources.

"The more growth Texas has, the harder it will be to evacuate larger cities, there will be more congestion on the highways and interstates and it's our job to figure out how to get people to safe places fast," said Kirkland.

Kirkland has been tracking and keeping a close watch on hurricanes for more than 10 years, his goal is to make sure that Wharton County stays informed about hurricanes so everyone knows what steps to take when a hurricane happens.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical storms. Because the strongest winds in a hurricane are not located precisely at the center, it is possible for a storm to affect conditions over land even if landfall does not occur.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and areas several hundred miles inland, and winds can exceed 155 miles per hour.

Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes, create storm surges along the coast, cause extensive damage from flooding and create dangerous rip currents.

Here are several measures residents can take now to prepare for potential storms:

Assemble an emergency kit that includes essential documents, supplies and provisions.

Review hurricane evacuation maps, and select a route for you and your family.

Plan how all family members and pets will evacuate safely.

Consider any special needs for individuals with disabilities or the elderly.

Stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.

For more information on these tips and other ways to prepare for the 2016 hurricane season, visit

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