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Hurricane season preparation underway despite pandemic in Southeast Texas

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts it will be a busy hurricane season.

ORANGE COUNTY, Texas — In addition to COVID-19 relief efforts, city and county officials have been preparing for hurricane season. In Jefferson Count, for example, there will be PPE and social distancing procedures in place at evacuation shelters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts it will be a busy hurricane season. The season officially started on June 1.

Ken Graham is the director of the National Hurricane Center. He says there's a lot of uncertainty, but preparation is key. 

"Even before we get to the start of the season that preparedness is everything, you get an early start like this, it's time to be prepared," Graham said. "The time is now to really start looking at your plans. Step one is to know your risks. If you're one of those in those evacuation zones right along the coast, you gotta listen to those local officials and have a place to go."

Monday, Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie said the Office of Emergency Management has been preparing for months with COVID-19 in mind.

"Shelters with square footage large enough, so many square feet for each family to allow some distancing there," Bartie said. 

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick also realizes evacuation centers will have extra precautions in place. 

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"We will have to have screeners there to take people's temperatures and maybe have additional buses so that we can segregate those people that don't have temperatures from those that might be hot," Branick said. 

In Orange County, flooding is something residents say they're unfortunately getting used to. County Judge John Gothia says there's been progress with the drainage system.

"When we get big rain events now, the water still builds up, it doesn't build up as much and it moves off a lot faster," Gothia said. 

He says they still have a long way to go.

As you make plans, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Make sure masks and hand sanitizer make it into your emergency box
  • Double check that your friends and family members that you normally rely on for evacuations are still comfortable having extra guests
  • Take look at an emergency kit essentials list to make sure you have what you may need 

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