June 1 marked the beginning of hurricane season, which means all Harris County residents should begin their storm preparations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts this year's season to generate 9-15 named storms — approximately six hurricanes and potentially a couple of major hurricanes (categories 3-5).
Hurricane preparation should include an action plan, gathering necessary resources and creating travel plans for evacuation. Ray Higgins, director, Emergency Management, Harris Health, has experienced many bouts of inclement weather throughout his career and encourages everyone to begin preparation.
"It's time to prepare now," he says. "Food, water, plywood, sandbags and other essential resources to secure your home will be unavailable once a storm is heading this way. These resources are necessary for all types of bad weather beyond hurricane season."
Ray touts the importance of preparing year-round action plans, especially during hurricane season. Hurricane preparation is merely a continuation of the year-round plan each Harris County resident should have in place for natural disasters.
He advises people to utilize a free app named ReadyHarris that people can use to create an action plan. The app asks five simple questions and can be completed in five minutes, giving you a customized plan that works for you and your family. ReadyHarris is available in English and Spanish.
"Developing a family action plan for hurricane season, or other disasters, seems difficult and time-consuming," Ray admits. "However, this simple app can walk you through the proper steps in a few minutes, making a big difference in your preparedness."
The app is a powerful tool to use is many situations beyond hurricanes and floods such as tornadoes, fires, child security and winter storms. The app lists hospitals, shelters, fire stations and detailed evacuation routes. ReadyHarris is available on both iOS and Android platforms.
He realizes every storm has the capability for severe damage and people should be ready despite the storm's anticipated magnitude.
"You must take every storm seriously," he says. "Failure to prepare will leave you without the resources necessary to successfully endure the weather. Some storms warrant a few days' notice. However, Harvey did not. A small tropical storm heading toward Mexico turned into a category 4 storm and generated historic damage to the Houston area."