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Preparing for Touchdown

How the Capital and Colorado County advise residents to get ready for Hurricane Beryl

Tropical storm season is in full swing, with Hurricane Beryl having officially landed in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday morning, July 6.

Given multiple reports that the hurricane is expected to hit Texas early Monday morning, July 8, here’s how the state and Colorado County advise families to prepare, and what necessary measures to take throughout the storm.

In a press release from Austin, Lieutenant Acting Governor Dan Patrick announced 81 counties were added to the state’s “Hurricane Beryl Disaster Declaration,” which included Colorado County.

“As Hurricane Beryl approaches the Gulf Coast,” said Patrick. “Today will be the last day for Texans to make preparations for the coming storm. Beryl is a determined storm, and incoming winds and potential flooding will pose a serious threat to Texans who are in Beryl’s path at landfall and as it makes its way across the state for the following 24 hours. As Acting Governor, I’ve been in constant communication with Texas state agencies and local leaders to coordinate preparations and response, and I will continue to do so. Do not ignore this storm.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to intensify as it moves northwest through the Gulf of Mexico, before it takes a northerly turn to make landfall along the mid-Texas coast as a hurricane on Monday.

The State of Texas has over 2,000 responders and 850 assets rostered and deployed to support the state’s response to anticipated impacts from Hurricane Beryl. The following state emergency response resources have been rostered and deployed to support response operations:

· Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (Texas A&M Task Force 1 & Texas Task Force 2): Search and Rescue Personnel, and Swiftwater Boat Squads.

· Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service: Texas A&M Public Works Response Team.

· Texas A&M Forest Service: Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) All- Hazards Incident Strike Teams, including personnel and fire engines.

· Texas National Guard: National Guard Personnel, including High Profile Vehicles and Chinook & Black Hawk Helicopters.

· Texas Department of Public Safety: Texas Highway Patrol Troopers, the Tactical Marine Unit, and Helicopters with hoist capabilities.

· Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: Game Wardens and Park Police to provide law enforcement support, along with Swiftwater Boats, Airboats, Flat Bottom Boats, Four-wheel Drive Vehicles, and Helicopters.

· Texas Department of State Health Services (Emergency Medical Task Force): Medical Incident Support Teams and Severe Weather Packages, including Ambuses, Ambulances, and Command Vehicles.

· Texas Department of Transportation: Highway maintenance personnel and personnel to monitor roadway conditions.

· Texas Animal Health Commission: Personnel to provide livestock support.

· Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service: Disaster Assessment and Recovery Agents as well as AgriLife Extension Agents to support agricultural and livestock needs.

· Texas Department of Information Resources: Monitoring for potential cyber- threats and impacts to technology infrastructure.

· Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Air/water/wastewater monitoring

· Railroad Commission of Texas: Monitoring the state’s natural gas supply, and communicating with the oil & gas industry.

· Public Utility Commission of Texas: Personnel to coordinate with utility providers across the threat area.

· Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: Coordinating volunteer organizations across impacted areas.

· FEMA Region 6: More than 100 personnel, 500,000 Meals Ready to Eat, 800,000 liters of Water, 20,000 Tarps, 2,500 Rolls of Plastic Sheathing, Generators, Urban Search and Rescue Teams, Tractor-Trailers, Communications and Command Vehicles.

In Colorado County specifically, Charles “Chuck” Rogers, Emergency Management Coordinator, says the county isn’t calling for evacuations unless residents feel their housing is substandard. Rogers urges everyone to simply be aware of their surroundings and watch the storm, especially those who live by the river or a creek.

“Well, Colorado county is not an evacuation County,” said Rogers. “I do know that we have in the past, asked folks if they felt they lived in substandard housing, due to the wind, that they seek shelter elsewhere, but as far as evacuation, mandatory or otherwise, we're not calling for one. We asked the folks that, especially if you live close to a river to the Colorado River, or a creek, that you keep your eyes on that. But traditionally, everybody has weathered a storm or two in this county.”

As the Colorado County Emergency Management Coordinator, Rogers says he will get with the Lower Colorado County River Authority and the National Weather Service West River Forecast Center to see their projections and will dictate warnings to residents based on those projections. He says however that due to the ground being very dry, there is a chance for flash flooding and local road flooding.

“The only thing will be that the ground is very dry,” said Rogers. "And until it gets to the point where it's wet and can start absorbing it, we will have some chance for some flash flooding and some local road flooding. And then that's just going to be keeping our eyes on that and getting the word out to everybody. And of course, during those rain events, we ask everybody to curtail any kind of traveling around unless necessary.”

Rogers lastly advises that residents act now, and fast, to secure any necessary provisions or supplies necessary to help them be prepared for the storm. He highlights the dangers of mishandling a generator during the storm, urging those with one to ensure they’re working properly or install it before the storm hits.

“If they're going to buy any supplies and provisions, batteries, water, food that only needs water to be prepared,” said Rogers. “I would do this now. Depending on the severity of the

storm, we have found that our local stores have been severely impacted by people from outside of the county that are looking for food, trying to restore their pantries. Anybody that is operating any kind of generator that has not been installed, that they take the time now and make sure their generators are running. If you are not sure how to wire it into your system, please don't call an electrician. A lot of times we have people trying to wire their generators into their fuse boxes in the middle of the storm. And that is not the time to do that. Also, do not bring any kind of gas or fire fueled appliances, your barbecue pits or whatever. Don't bring them into the garage or in any enclosed spaces where carbon monoxide can filter into the homes.”