Entergy Texas Inc. held its first annual Operation: Storm Ready, a hurricane preparedness event, at the Ford Park Exhibit Hall in Beaumont on Wednesday, May 29. The pre-season event was an effort to educate the public regarding emergency readiness and to show how Entergy is prepared for the worst.
“Are you ready?” Entergy Texas President and CEO Sallie Rainier asked the crowd gathered. Rainier said the booths were set up to provide information for people and businesses to ready them “to weather the storms if they come.”
“Our motto at Entergy, as far as hurricane storm preparations, is prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Rainier said. “We’ve been lucky that we have not had to weather any significant storms in the very recent past, but we all remember what the storms were like several years back. They can be devastating. And without a plan, we just won’t be ready for the work that needs to be done to get ourselves back to normal.”
Entergy Texas partnered with a variety of local governmental, emergency and social service agencies to provide interesting displays and activities related to storm response. Those attending had the rare opportunity to see the kinds of equipment used during storm restoration. There were 13 other wide-ranging exhibits, as well. Those include the National Weather Service, the Coast Guard and a number of other agencies.
The Port Arthur Mobile Command Center was on display, while the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office got to show off its department helicopter. The Beaumont Chapter of the American Red Cross had its emergency response vehicle on-hand, and LifeShare Blood Centers had a bus available for potential donors.
“Bringing Southeast Texas back to normal after a storm is never a one-man show for any organization,” explained Todd Dunkleberger, regional customer service manager for Entergy Texas and master of ceremonies for Operation: Storm Ready. “We are very pleased to be able to bring in so many of our partners. This will give all of us the chance to talk to our friends and neighbors in Southeast Texas about what it means to prepare and be ready for a storm.”
Speakers at the event said Entergy is ready to weather potential storms and gave advice on how residents of the area could prepare. Representatives said power outage maps are available at viewoutage.entergy.com/tx.aspx. Entergy Texas is making it easier to report outages and receive alerts by adding a text feature for cellular phones. Users can text to report outages, and customers will receive texts when power outages occur in their areas. For more information, visit the Entergy Storm Center website at stormcenter.entergy.com/default.aspx or the main site at www.entergy-texas.com/ .
Hurricane preparedness: Maps and tips for emergencies
May 23, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, predicting an active hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean region. With the Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the Atlantic, that could prove problematic for Southeast Texans. State and local authorities are warning the public that steps must be taken to ensure safety.
May 26 – June 1 is Hurricane Preparedness Week. The City of Beaumont Emergency Management Team would like to remind everyone to have preparations made in advance, according to a press release from the Beaumont Police Department. You can register your cell phone for emergency alerts by calling 3-1-1. If you are going to need transportation or assistance in the event of an evacuation, register with 2-1-1. If you have already registered, you do not need to register again. If you have moved, update your information or let the operators know you will no longer need assistance. For more information on Hurricane Preparedness and evacuation information, go to www.setinfo.org .
Talk with your family about your plans. Being prepared will help alleviate confusion and minimize the sense of panic or helplessness during an emergency. Make “ready bags” or “comfort kits,” and let your children help.
“We pray for a non-eventful 2013 hurricane season, but together we can get prepared and minimize loss of life and property,” the release read.
The 2013 Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Hurricane Evacuation map is now available. A detailed map can be seen at the TxDOT Web site at www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/weather/hurricane.html . Activated evacuation routes will be reflected in current road conditions, but you can also call (800) 452-9292.
According to the website, the time to get prepared and make evacuation plans is now. Start by reviewing the hurricane evacuation maps available and selecting an evacuation route for you and your family. Unless you are physically unable to evacuate, TxDOT urges you to obey evacuation orders. According to TxDOT, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to get stuck in evacuation traffic. If you are elderly or disabled and need evacuation assistance, you can call 2-1-1 for assistance. TxDOT recommends that if state or local officials order a mandatory evacuation residents leave immediately. Be sure your home is secure, and take your pets with you.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) also urged that residents should be prepared for hurricanes. A DPS press release is reminding residents about the upcoming hurricane season and urging individuals to start preparing now for any possible storms. Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.
“Hurricanes and tropical storms can wreak havoc on the lives of residents in a storm’s path. Although Texans living along the coast are the most vulnerable, powerful storms can have far-reaching effects on the state as a whole,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Since early planning and preparation can greatly increase the protection of life and property, residents should begin taking precautions now.”
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. In addition, hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes, create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from flooding.
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 2013 hurricane season, visit www.texasprepares.org .
Build for storms
At the Operation: Storm Ready event Wednesday, several local groups and Entergy representatives had booths set up along the aisle at the Ford Park Exhibit Hall, each with information on emergency services and procedures.
New Century Dome Builder LLC President David Smith attended the event and had some suggestions of his own for people looking to build sturdy residential or commercial structures. Smith builds domes, or more specifically monolithic domes, that serve to protect the life and property of those who purchase them.
A monolithic dome is a thin shell structure made of steel-reinforced concrete. It is the strongest structure that can be built on planet earth, Smith said. In fact, the structures are so safe that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded more than $3.4 million to the state of Texas for the construction of two community safe rooms in the city of Kingsville in Kleberg County in December 2012. An announcement from FEMA touted the domes would “provide protection from storms and tornadoes,” and Smith said they can withstand between 400 and 600 mile per hour winds.
Smith said people would be surprised how little safety could cost, the price for the dome home being comparable to a similarly sized rectangular structure. More information on New Century Dome Builders can be found at www.newcenturydomebuilder.com  or by calling (409) 745-0874.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has more tips and a video regarding hurricane preparedness on their Web site at www.texasprepares.org/survivingdisaster.htm .
Be prepared, Southeast Texans. Hurricane season is imminent.