While hurricane paths are somewhat unpredictable we do have sufficient warning to allow for proper preparation prior to its arrival. Over the years the Texas Gulf Coast area has been hit by several major storms causing billions of dollars in damage and loss of life.
2017 - Hurricane Harvey - 107 people died
2008 - Hurricane Ike - 84 people died
2005 - Hurricane Rita - 113 people died
2001 - Tropical Storm Allison - 23 people died
1983 - Hurricane Alicia - 21 people died
History has proven, we should have contingency plans in place in order to adequately prepare for the inevitable.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey tied Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting $125 billion in damage, primarily from catastrophic rainfall-triggered flooding in the Houston metropolitan area. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain as the system slowly meandered over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing unprecedented flooding. With peak accumulations of 60.58 in, Harvey was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, caused 107 deaths, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.
In 2008, most of remember Hurricane Ike pretty well. This huge storm ballooned up to category four size before making landfall as a category two. Despite the reduction in wind speed and pressure, an incredible 20-foot storm surge wiped out most of the east end of Galveston Island and completely obliterated entire communities along Bolivar Peninsula. More than 100 people died and there are still 34 missing. Damage totals have been estimated near $30 billion.
In 2005, Hurricane Rita entered an environment of abnormally warm waters. It rapidly intensified to reach peak winds of 180 mph (285 km/h) on September 21. After steadily weakening and beginning to curve to the northwest, Rita gradually weakened and made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas and Holly Beach, Louisiana with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h) on September 24. Areas in Texas suffered from extensive wind damage. According to an October 25, 2005 Disaster Center report, 4,526 single-family dwellings were destroyed in Orange and Jefferson counties located in Southeast Texas. Major damage was sustained by 14,256 an additional single-family dwellings and another 26,211 single-family dwellings received some damage. Electric service was disrupted in some areas of both Texas and Louisiana for several weeks. Texas reported the most deaths from the hurricane, where 113 deaths were reported, 107 of which were associated with the evacuation of the Houston metropolitan area.
Tropical Storm Allison
In 2001, weather forecasters referred to Tropical Storm Allison as a "perfect weather event," but that really depends on your definition of perfect. Allison struck near Galveston as your garden-variety tropical storm, but it wound around in the state, eventually stopping right on top of Houston, dumping 40 inches of rain total in southeast Texas and estimates of 36 inches in the Houston area in 24 hours. This "100-year flood" inundated and destroyed homes and businesses that had never flooded previously. Bayous, supposedly designed to handle such events, poured out of their banks and the end result was over $6 billion in damage. Allison was the costliest tropical storm in U.S. history and the only non-hurricane to ever have its name retired.
In 1983, Hurricane Alicia left an estimated 1.2 billion dollars in damage in the wake of its path. In September of 2005 the Texas Gulf Coast area experienced its most devastating hurricane in modern times. Hurricane Rita hit the Texas and Louisiana Coastline causing an estimated 10 billion dollars in damage to the Gulf Coast area.
Here are a few steps that should be taken in preparation for a hurricane:
- Maintain current copies of the area community hurricane preparedness plan from the emergency management office of the Red Cross.
- If you have a "Ride Out" Team to stay on property, you must prepare for a communication plan/network with key production and management personnel, weather stations, and local fire and police departments.
- Plan for battery powered backup systems, emergency lighting, flashlights, etc.
- Have First Aid kits well stocked and an ample supply of bottled drinking water stored.
- Ensure that all employees know the evacuation routes and exits.
- Ensure that any and all trailers on premises are well secured and tied down.
- Ensure that an ample supply of rain gear and boots are available.
- Prepare to have ample supply of food, drinking water, blankets and cots for personnel who must remain on site.
- Have battery-operated radio(s) and/or TV(s) for monitoring official storm status reports.
For more information on preparing your company for hurricanes and other contingencies, contact Hamilton Consulting Services, Inc. We will recommend additional factors specific to your facility as part of your Risk Assessment or Emergency/Contingency Plan.