No matter what time of year it is, Houstonians seem to be looking forward to the next season — duck season, football season, bluebonnet season, deer season, baseball season, and so on.
However, there's one season that few people actually look forward to — hurricane season. The 2013 season officially begins this Saturday, June 1.
We've asked Houston's First member, Deacon and KTRK-TV meteorologist Travis Herzog to share tips with the church family about what to expect and how to prepare for the months ahead.
"The most important thing to keep in mind every hurricane season is that no matter what the preseason predictions are, it only takes one storm to make it an active season for us," Herzog reminds us. "In 1983, there were only 4 named storms and 1 hurricane — Alicia — which slammed into Galveston as a category 3."
Read Travis' tips below and take action now to prepare your family for the 2013 season. At the bottom of this page you'll find how the church plans to communicate with the church family in the event a storm impacts the greater Houston area.
Don't wait until a storm approaches. You'll be fighting long lines at grocery stores, hardware stores, and gas stations (precious time you could be using to prepare your family and your home), and you may not be able to purchase what you need. It's often said that we have no excuse to not be prepared for these kinds of storms because we can normally see them coming days away and we know what time of year they occur. The Texas hurricane season normally ends by mid-October.
What will you do when a storm threatens? What will you do when it makes landfall? What will you do if you have to live without power for a few days or a few weeks? Do you have enough non-perishable food and water on hand? Are there large trees around your house that could fall on it? Where will you store your important records and family photos for safe-keeping? There are many free guides and checklists available to help you prepare for a storm, like KTRK's hurricane tracking guide that you can grab at your local Kroger.
Those that live in evacuation zones need to evacuate when the order is given. Those that are NOT in evacuation zones need to stay put until the coastal residents have evacuated first because they are at risk of storm surge flooding, the most deadly hurricane hazard. If we respond in an orderly fashion to evacuation orders (see Ike) we can avoid a fiasco on the roadways (see Rita).
Most flooding that occurs today in our area is not caused by bayous overspilling their banks — it's caused by water trying to get into the bayou. Just one inch of water can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Alvin, TX, just south of Houston, received 43" of rain in 24 hours, the most ever recorded in the US. If you receive 43" of rain in 24 hours, your house will flood!
Shameless plug alert! We just released a new weather app, and it seriously rocks. It includes a free weather radio that will alert you for any weather warning based on your GPS location and other stationary locations you set (home, work, church, etc). You can also stream our news coverage live — straight from your smartphone! The app is available for iOS and Android (search for "ABC13 Weather"). Similar apps cost $10, but this one is free.
FEMA is urging people to use text messages during natural disasters and other crises. It's the most efficient form of communication, it keeps phone lines from getting clogged, and it drains the least amount of battery power. It's also helpful to be on social media networks to both follow the latest happenings and let family/friends know you're okay. During disasters, cell phone towers and the Internet are usually the first things to function normally and often don't go down at all. You can follow me on Twitter (@HerzogWeather) or like me on Facebook (TravisHerzogABC13) for storm updates.
Jesus is in control. We don't have to fear these storms. We just need to be wise, be prepared, and trust in the One about whom it was said in Matthew 8:27, "“What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
If a storm strikes the greater Houston area, Houston's First will actively provide updates on any impacts to our campuses and our Sunday and weekday schedules, as well as how the church family can assist in relief efforts.
The best place to look for updates will be right here at HoustonsFirst.org and through the Twitter and Facebook channels for each campus:
Churchwide emails will be used for periodic updates, but they will not be used for frequent just-in-time messages if storm conditions and their impacts change frequently.
As local staff members are able to do so, the phone systems at each campus may also be updated. However, the most up-to-date source will be this website and the social media channels listed above.
First Baptist Academy will share updates on severe weather impacts through their established communication channels.