Its hurricane season in Texas Do you have a plan / Public News Service

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State agencies gathered in Austin last week for hurricane drills. They emphasize that all Texans must prepare before the next disaster.

Harris County Public Information Officer Brian Murray said the Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and will continue through the end of November. He said most people in vulnerable areas have heard what they need to do to be ready.

“Have a disaster kit – food, water, medicine, supplies for your pets for seven to 10 days so you can be independent,” Murray said. “Having a plan – do you need to worry about having to evacuate in a storm surge or are you able to get to where you are? And then be able to stay informed.”

Staying informed can mean extra battery for your phone and the phone numbers of important contacts. Exercises over the past week by 30 state agencies covered preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

Juanita Jiménez-Soto, Deputy Director of State Communications with AARP Texas, said being prepared can mean peace of mindespecially for older Texans and their families.

“If you rush at the last minute, you forget things,” Jiménez-Soto said. “Sometimes you forget things vital to your health — vital to your financial future. So being prepared means you’ve basically put a sense of relief in your life.”

Murray said he was surprised by the number of people in Harris County telling him they weren’t expecting a hurricane.

“Everyone always thinks, ‘This can’t happen to me,’” Murray said. “Well, sorry, we have more federally declared disasters than any county in the United States. If you think this can’t happen to you – no matter where you are – I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong.”

Jiménez-Soto said the organization has created hurricane checklists and an instructional video in English and Spanish – at AARP.org/Houston. She said everyone should know the checklist, especially older family members.

“And if you have someone who is over 50,” Jiménez-Soto said, “you have medication — you have doctor appointments — maybe they have a nutritional need.”

Disclosure: AARP Texas contributes to our fund for reports on energy policy, health issues, living wages/working families, senior citizen issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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