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Disaster Planning
The routine of our daily lives can easily be disrupted by emergencies and/or disasters and each event can have immediate and lasting effects. People can be seriously injured, or sometimes killed, and property damage can run into millions of dollars. The goal of Galveston County Office of Emergency Management is to prepare the County to respond to, and recover from the effects of disasters and emergencies. Our goal will be accomplished, in part, by the utilization of the County's resources as well as the resources of local jurisdictions, the state, and federal government.

As the need arises, additional support and assistance will be provided by agencies such as the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Salvation Army, and the Greater Houston American Red Cross. Along with these service agencies are dedicated volunteers who extend themselves to assist the County when called upon.

When emergencies occur, emergency management departments (Police, Fire, EMS, Public Works, and Health) are trained to respond to the areas affected by the event. It is the responsibility of all of us to be personally prepared to respond to and manage the effects of a disaster. Galveston County's Office of Emergency Management has prepared self-help booklets and pamphlets to assist you in developing your personal emergency preparedness program for your family's protection. Emergency Management staff members are also available for emergency preparedness presentations to civic groups and other organizations.

Remember, knowing what to do in emergencies is your responsibility. More importantly, knowing what to do is the best protection for you and your family.

Knowing what to do protects you and your family
  • LEARN about potential hazards and how to deal with them
  • DEVELOP an Emergency Plan
  • PRACTICE and maintain your emergency plan.
Emergency Preparedness Checklist
  • Find out what kind of disasters could affect you: Contact Texas City's Office of Emergency Management at (409) 643-5840.
  • Ask about the types of natural or technological (hazardous materials, major transportation accidents, etc.) disasters most likely to occur in Galveston County. Request information on how to prepare for each occurrence.
  • Ask about the Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS broadcasts are activated by local authorities when there is an emergency. (530 AM or KTRH 740 AM)
  • Pay close attention to these messages.
  • Ask about animal care after a disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters. Only service animals accompanying the disabled will be allowed.
  • Ask about special assistance for the elderly and disabled, if needed.
  • Ask about evacuation and safe inland traffic routes.
  • Find out about the disaster plan at your place of employment, your children's school, day care center and other places where your family spends time.
  • Learn basic safety measures such as CPR, first aid and use of fire extinguishers, how, where and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity at the main switches.
  • Post emergency phone numbers by the telephone. Teach children how and when to call 911.
Develop a Family Emergency Plan
Discuss what your family should do for each type of disaster
  • Find the safe areas in your home to take shelter.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home and find two ways out of each room.
  • Pick places to meet — choose a location outside your house in case of household emergency, such as a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can not return to your house.
  • Pick local and out-of-town family check-in points for everyone to call if your family gets separated.
  • Make sure everyone knows the phone numbers.
  • Discuss what to do in an emergency.
  • Stock emergency supplies. You should assemble enough supplies to support your needs for three days.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit in case of evacuation

  • Water
  • Packaged or canned food
  • Can opener
  • Change of clothes/footwear
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Extra pair of glasses
  • Battery powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Cash/credit cards
  • Battery-operated tone-alert weather radio

Prepare an Emergency Car Kit

  • Battery-powered radio,
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Booster cable
  • Tire repair kit/pump
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable high-energy foods
  • Maps

Install safety features in your home

  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire extinguishers

Practice and maintain your plan

  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills annually.
  • Replace stored water every three months and food every six months.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacture's instructions.
  • Test your smoke detector once a month and replace the batteries twice a year. It is suggested the batteries be replaced in the fall and spring.
  • During emergencies, listen to 530 AM Texas City's designated Emergency Alert System Station, for emergency information from local public officials. Follow their instructions and recommendations.
Floods
The most common type of all natural hazards is flooding Being prepared is a vital step toward protecting both lives and personal property. The following suggestions will help you develop your personal plan for floods.

Before a Flood

Understand Flash Flood Watch and Warning terms
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flooding is possible.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or is imminent.
  • Determine if your property is in a flood-prone area.
  • Purchase a tone-alert radio.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit to include a radio with extra batteries, flashlights, first aid kit, and food.
  • Know how to shut off your utilities.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance.

During Heavy Rain

  • Listen to radio and TV stations for the most current information.
  • Know what streams, bayous, drainage channels, and creeks are prone to flood in your immediate area. Secure your home before you evacuate.
  • Avoid going near flood areas. The water depth is unknown.
  • Do not drive into flooded streets. Water depth is unknown and the condition of the roadway is not certain.
  • Know how and when to evacuate from your immediate area before its too late.

After a Flood

  • Stay away from flood waters.
  • Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded.
  • Keep away from areas where power poles are down or where destruction of properties has occurred.
  • Be alert to personal health and safety issues regarding your families welfare.
  • Continue monitoring your radio for the latest information.
  • Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
The Galveston Bay and Freeport areas constitute one of the most vulnerable sections of the Texas Gulf Coast to hurricane damage, because so many people live near the shore and at low elevations. Land subsidence in recent years has added to the seriousness of the situation.

According to the National Weather Service, more then 500,000 people living within 10 miles of Galveston Bay, and in Brazoria County, may be subjected to tidal flooding during a major hurricane. Considering that National Weather Service records show that 9 out of every 10 deaths in hurricanes are caused by drowning in tidal waters, the threat to these residents is obvious.

Emergency authorities urge all persons who may be subjected to tidal flooding during a major hurricane to relocate inland or to higher ground.

Low-Lying Evacuation Roads
Listed here are some of the major evacuation routes leading out of the coastal areas that are less than 8' above Mean Sea Level (MSL). Most of the coastal and bayshore areas are 5' or lower. This means that almost all evacuation routes will be cut off when tides reach the 5' level. NOTE: The tide levels forecasted by the National Weather Service do not take into account flooding of streams and adjacent areas due to heavy rains that often precede and occur with hurricanes. Only saltwater flooding is considered. Therefore, it is conceivable that many roadways, even those with higher elevations than the ones mentioned, could become impassable much earlier than predicted.

Please keep in mind that evacuation information is subject to change/error due to highly localized severe weather conditions, poor drainage, traffic congestion, highway construction, etc. stay tuned to the local emergency broadcasting station (EBS) in your area or NOAA weather radio.

Texas City-La Marque Area
This area is protected by the storm levee which should afford protection for all except extremely high tides.

Sensitive elevations are:
  • Loop 197 between Highway 3 and 146 and the Texas City levee; 3' above MSL.
  • Texas Avenue (FM 1765) between 29th Street and Highway 146; 5' above MSL.
  • Palmer Highway (FM 1764) between 29th Street and Highway 146; 3' above MSL.
  • Highway 146 between Texas City and Dickinson Bayou at Moses Lake; 4' above MSL.

San Leon-Dickinson Area

Sensitive elevations are:
  • FM 517 South between the San Leon Chamber of Commerce Building and Highway 146; 6' above MSL.
  • FM 517 South between Highway 146 and Dickinson at Gum Bayou; 6' above MSL.
  • FM 517 North between Galveston Bay and Highway 146 at Bacliff; 8' above MSL.

Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula

Five-feet tides could virtually isolate Galveston Island from the Mainland. Sensitive elevations are:
  • 8' tides between 61st Street and the causway; (IH-45)
  • 6' tides between the causeway and the Wye for the northbound lane; (IH-45)
  • 8' tides bewteen the causeway and the Wye for the southbound lane; (IH-45)
  • 4' tides will isolate West Galveston Island from Galveston.
  • 5' tides will isolate Bolivar Peninsula from Galveston.
  • Normally, the Ferry ceases operations when tides reach 5'.
  • 3' tides will isolate Bolivar Peninsula from High Island and the northeast.
  • Highway 87 near Gilchrist and just north of High Island has an elevation of 3' above MSL.
  • 3' tides will begin to put water over Highway 6 between IH-45 and Hitchcock.
  • 4' tides will affect highway 146 between IH-45 and the Texas City Levee.
  • The San Luis Pass bridge is normally closed when tides reach 3' since the road on the Brazoria County side becomes flooded and impassable.

Kemah-Seabrook-NASA Area

Sensitive elevations are:
  • Highway 146 in Kemah from FM 2094 and the Clear Creek bridge; 4' above MSL.
  • FM 2094 between Highway 146 and League City; 6' above MSL.
  • Todville Road between Hammer Street and Highway 146; 3' above MSL.
  • Red Bluff Road between Highway 146 and Bay Area Boulevard; 4' above MSL.
  • Bayport Road (old Highway 146) between Todville Road and La Porte; 4' above MSL.
Tornadoes
Tornadoes strike with little or no warning. Each family should develop a tornado plan and designate a safety shelter. Practice the plan you and your family developed.

How to Prepare for Tornadoes
Know the meaning of terms used to describe tornado threats:
  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible.
  • Tornado Warning: Take shelter, tornado sighted.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
  • Purchase a NOAA weather radio, a battery-powered commercial radio and extra batteries for each.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand.
  • Inventory your possessions.
  • Keep important papers in a safe deposit box.

Tornado shelters should be stocked with the following supplies:
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • battery operated radio with weather band
  • first-aid kit
  • emergency food and water
  • manual can opener
  • essential medications
  • cash and credit cards
  • sturdy shoes

What To Do During a Tornado
When a tornado is sighted, go to your shelter immediately, stay away from windows, door, outside walls.
  • In a house or small building, go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest level.
  • In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center; go to predesignated shelter area or interior halls on the lowest level.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on lowest floor possible.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, a table or desk.
  • Use your arms to protect head and neck. In a mobile home, trailer, or vehicle, get out immediately and go to a substantial structure.
  • A ditch, ravine, or culvert could be used if no structure is available. Do not attempt to out-drive a tornado.

What to Do After a Tornado
  • Be aware of broken glass and downed power lines.
  • Check for injuries. Move seriously injured persons only if in immediate danger or life is threatened.
  • Use caution entering a damaged building.
Hazardous Materials Incidents
Hazardous materials are substances which, because of their chemical, physical, or biological nature, pose a potential risk to life, health, and property if they are released. Hazards can exist during production, storage, transportation, use, or disposal.

What To Do In A Hazardous Materials Incident
  • If you witness a hazardous materials incident, call 911.
  • Avoid incident site to minimize risk of contamination.
  • If you are caught outside during an incident, try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind.
  • If you are in a car, close windows and shut off ventilation.

Shelter in Place Tips
  • Follow instructions given by emergency authorities.
  • Reduce toxic vapors from entering your home by sealing entry routes and closing doors and windows.
  • Turn off all ventilation systems.
  • Seal gaps around window air conditioning units, kitchen exhaust fan grills, stove and dryer vents with duct tape.
  • Close as many internal doors as possible.
  • Close all fireplace dampers.
  • If warned of potential outdoor explosion, close drapes, curtains and shades, and stay from windows to prevent injury from broken glass.
  • Stay in protected, interior areas of building where toxic vapors are reduced.
  • Listen to news media for instructions.
  • If evacuation recommended, do so immediately Listen to a battery powered radio for instructions.
  • If time permits, close all windows, turn off ventilation system to minimize contamination.
  • Use recommended travel routes recommended by local authorities.
  • Avoid contact with spilled liquid materials, airborne mist, or condensed solid chemical deposit.
  • Do no eat or drink food or water that may have been contaminated.

What To Do After An Incident
  • Do not return home until authorities say it is safe.
  • Upon returning home, open windows, doors, and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  • Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
  • If a person or item has been exposed to hazardous chemicals, follow the procedures below:
    • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.
    • Seek medical treatment for symptoms that may be related to the hazardous materials release.
    • If medical help is not immediately available and you might be contaminated, remove your clothes, shower, and put on clean clothes. Seek medical help as soon as possible. Place exposed clothing in a sealed container and find out proper disposal procedures.
Summer Heat
People living in Southeast Texas are not strangers to high temperatures and high humidity during the summer. Residents should be aware of how to cope with these adverse conditions. Humans in this region cope with summer heat, sweating and evaporative cooling. As air becomes moist (high relative humidity), evaporation is inhibited and cooling of the body becomes a problem. When our bodies are not able to maintain proper body temperature, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke manifest themselves. To help the general populous quantity values for identifying this problem, the term Heat Index was developed. The Heat Index is a combination of temperature and humidity and is used to describe "how hot it feels". The Heat Index is calculated as if standing in a ventilated, shady place. Prolonged exposure to Heat Indices ranging from:

  • 80-90 degrees F could lead to possible fatigue
  • 90-105 degrees F represents the possibility of heat cramps and heat exhaustion occurring
  • 105-130 degrees F heat cramps and heat exhaustion are likely, arid heat stroke is possible
  • Greater than 130 degrees F is when dangerously fatal conditions exist.

Some tips to help you cope with reducing potential health related problems are:
  • reduce strenuous physical activities to early morning or late afternoon
  • wear loose fitting and light colored clothes
  • drink plenty of water
  • spend as much time as possible in air conditioning

Remember children, the elderly, and people with chronic ailments are most at risk during periods of extreme heat. Also, don't forget your pets, ensure they have plenty of water and shade.
Winter Weather
Galveston County is generally spared from dealing with severe winter weather. Occasionally, we are subjected to freezing or below freezing temperatures. Being prepared is the best way to cope with winter weather conditions when they impact our area. Some of the conditions the public may have to deal with are:

  • Ice Storms: May cause a disruption of communications and electrical services, and contribute to unsafe driving conditions. Bridges, overpasses, and some highways may close due to icing.
  • Below Freezing Temperatures: Coupled with wind chill factor (rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold) people should protect themselves by wearing sufficient clothing, including a cap and gloves when outside, to help retain body heat. Do not forget the 4 P's: protect exposed Pipes, People, Pets, and Plants.
  • Home Heating System: Loss of lives and damage to houses caused by fires tends to increase during the winter due to unsafe use or operating condition of home heating systems (especially space heaters). If possible, have your home heating system checked to be sure it is in proper working order prior to the winter season. Installing smoke alarms in your home is advisable.
  • Personal Vehicle: Do not forget to have your vehicle's antifreeze level checked.

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