|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - July 2010
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East Texans should use Alex as practice drill for storm season
Polk County Enterprise
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — Polk County Emergency Management officials are asking residents to treat Hurricane Alex as a drill for their family’s emergency plan as the storm makes landfall on the northeast Mexico coast. Alex’s arrival will bring rain to all of coastal Texas and even Louisiana through the July 4th weekend. Forecasters predict Polk County will see bands of thunderstorms daily for the next 10 days. Gov. Rick Perry sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday requesting a disaster declaration for 19 South Texas counties, a necessary step to obtaining federal help with preparation. The National Weather Service cautions Texans not to focus on the skinny part of the “cone of uncertainty” — a term used for the projected path of several forecast models. Alex still could make landfall north or south of the projected path that tracks the storm into northeastern Mexico with 100 mile per hour winds. “We should prepare for the worst, hope for the best and maybe nothing happens,” Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Shine told local officials gathered for a hurricane briefing Monday afternoon. “The 2010 Hurricane Season is predicted to be one of the most active years in history so you’re not wasting time by making preparations early,” Shine said. He also reminded first responders that Hurricane Ike was forecast to head into Mexico in 2008 while disaster relief teams were cleaning up after Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana. “You need to get fuel early because the coastal folks will run us dry,” Shine added. Shine added that there is a common misconception that gasoline retailers’ storage tanks will be kept full when the need for coastal evacuations occurs. “That’s not true,” Shine said. “Stations are allocated so much and that’s it.” Shine also suggested those residents with generators load test their equipment. Most generators have sat idle since the power was restored following Ike, according to Shine. “Strange things can happen when you put a load on those generators again,” he said. Other emergency supplies such as batteries and bottled water have a shelf life of about a year, so he encouraged families to make those purchases now. “You’ll use them by the end of the summer, so why not go ahead and be prepared,” Shine said. Shine instructed hospitals and nursing homes to contact contractors who were set to provide generators, transportation or sheltering arrangements in case their facilities needed to be evacuated. “This is a good time to check to see if those services are going to be available when you need them,” Shine said. “If the bus company says they can’t transport your residents you need to find someone else.” The State Operations Center at the Texas Department of Emergency Management in Austin says Alex will likely stall once it makes landfall, producing 5 to 10 inches of rain over the next few days. Rainfall accumulations of 2 inches are predicted prior to the storm’s arrival. With that stormwater moving into the Rio Grande River, forecasters expect rural and urban flooding through Friday. The SOC is planning for an event similar to Hurricane Dolly, except it will be slower moving and dump more rain. Within 24 hours Dolly had moved into the Big Bend area. Alex is expected to move much slower. The Hurricane Alex operation also marks a major change for the SOC in Austin. It is the first event since Nim Kidd was announced as interim TDEM chief June 11, following the death of Jack Colley. His appointment was to begin Thursday, but Kidd was supervising operations Monday. “Jack carried us through tough times — often with a certain amount of flair,” County Judge John Thompson said. “Nim is an experienced leader as the San Antonio District Fire Chief. He’s no nonsense and getting right down to business.” As County Judge, Thompson is also the emergency management director for Polk County. Kidd has been with SAFD since 1993 where he began as a firefighter and worked his way through the ranks.