Hurricane Harvey mandatory evacuations update with guidelines

Hurricane Harvey Aug. 24, 2017 (NOAA)

Category 3 or 4 hurricane predicted

Mandatory Evacuations ordered

 

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Mandatory evacuations. Hurricane Harvey is projected to be a Category 3 or 4 hurricane upon impact and is expected to make landfall on the Texas Coast Saturday at 6am. Mandatory Evacuations are in effect in the following areas: Mathis, Port Lavaca, Port Aransas, Rockport, San Patricio County, Calhoun County, Ingleside, Portland, Matagorda County, Jackson County, Brazoria County, Refugio County, and Nueces County.

Texas will experience severe floods with Hurricane Harvey (Screen Shot of Video)

Corpus Christi, Victoria County and Bolivar Peninsula are currently under Voluntary Evacuation notices.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered in 700 troops from the Texas Army, Air National Guards, Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department, to work alongside emergency responders and other volunteers and civilians in Victoria and College Station.

The current track of the storm takes the center near Corpus Christi. After landfall, Harvey is expected to decelerate and turn to the east-northeast, setting the stage for heavy rainfall on Friday and into the weekend over portions of Texas from the Hill Country (including San Antonio and Austin), points south to the Coastal Bend (including Corpus Christi), and points north and east into southeast Texas (including Houston and Galveston).

On Thursday afternoon, Harvey’s winds strengthened to 80 mph (128 km/h). Rain is expected from 10 to 20 inches, with some areas maybe experiencing 30 inches. Flash floods and 115 mph winds are possible.

Driving into flood waters may be the most dangerous things one could ever do. Most cars will float (and be swept away) in 18-24 inches of moving water. Trucks and SUVs are not much better with only 6-12 more inches of clearance. Creeks and rivers can rise very rapidly and the road bottom can also wash away making the water much deeper than it appears. 

Once cars are swept downstream they are will often roll to one side or perhaps flip over entirely. The driver has a few precious seconds to escape the vehicle. In fact, many drivers panic as soon as the vehicle submerges and are found later with their seat belt intact.

  • Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.- approximately 200 deaths per year
  • Over 50% of flood-related drownings are vehicle-related in the U.S.  In Texas, 76% of deaths are vehicle-related. 
  • Texas is the state with the most flood/flash flood deaths in the past 36 years.

Red Cross Disaster Relief (American Red Cross)

The following guidelines could help those under evacuation alerts:

  • Pack emergency supplies for two to three days. Some items to add to your prepacked emergency bag include one gallon of water per person per day; food that won’t spoil and a manual can opener; all medicines; smartphone and charger; and food and supplies for your pets.
  • Gather health and first-aid items. In addition to a first-aid kit, prescriptions and medications, take items for children or seniors with special needs. Don’t forget diapers, wipes, bottles and formula.
  • Get gas. Fill up your vehicle as soon as possible.
  • Plan your route. Check the Internet or the news for road closures and authorized evacuation routes. Don’t take shortcuts.
  • Keep mobile phones charged. In addition to your phone’s electrical outlet charger, take a charger that plugs into the car. Consider buying a solar charger, as well.
  • Take a portable radio. Pack extra batteries, and if you have a national weather radio, bring it along, too.
  • Gather important papers. In addition to financial account information, the Insurance Information Institute suggests taking official documents, such as birth and marriage certificates; passports; Social Security cards; wills; deeds; recent tax returns; and stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates.
  • Inform extended family. Tell a family member about your planned destination and route.
  • Notify your employer. Call the emergency contacts the company provides.
  • Pack pets. Find out if local animal shelters provide emergency shelter for pets or which hotels allow pets. Most evacuation shelters won’t allow them because of health and safety regulations.

 

Leaving

  • Seek refuge. Now’s the time to use those emergency service mobile apps and your texting tree. Get in touch with emergency organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or Federal Emergency Management Agency for shelter information.
  • Secure your home. Lock doors and windows. Unplug electrical equipment, such as appliances and electronics, but leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in. Post a note that says when you left and where you’re headed.
  • Grab comfort items. Take favorite toys or games for the kids or a favorite knitted throw.
  • Rely on emergency services to reunite family members. Turn to emergency service providers and local law enforcement if you get separated from your loved ones.

Returning

  • Make safety your top priority. Only return to your home when local authorities say it’s safe to do so. Safety precautions, such as wearing sturdy shoes and gloves, are a must. Homeowners should look out for exposed nails, sharp metal and other hazards, depending on the type of disaster that struck. Also be aware of downed power lines and possible gas leaks.

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