Last night Hurricane Harvey was updated to a Category 2 status and is expected to make landfall early Saturday near Corpus Christi, Texas. Texas and Louisiana governors have declared emergencies and evacuations are already happening in some areas. The storm has gained momentum overnight and could be bumped up to a Category 3 by the time it makes landfall. Winds of at least 111 miles per hour and up to 35 inches of rain are predicted in some areas.
Mandatory evacuations have already been issued to areas of the Gulf Coast, including parts of Corpus Christi, Texas. All residents of Brazoria County living on the Gulf side of the Intracoastal Canal have also been ordered to evacuate. Before Hurricane Harvey makes landfall on early Saturday, make all the preparations you can, and stay constantly updated on the conditions and predictions by checking the National Weather Service.
Here are the top 5 most important preparations you can make.
Prepare A Hurricane Kit-This kit should include water, food, blankets and clothing. It should be easy to transport if you need to evacuate to a shelter quickly. Prepare copies of proof of ownership documents for any important assets you own, including homes, cars, and boats. You can store them in a safe location or take them with you during an evacuation.
Evacuation Plan-Identify several different places you can go to during an evacuation. The unpredictability of an emergency makes it important to have options. Fill up gas tanks for possible evacuations and gather at least three days of food and water and have it ready to take with you if you need to move to a safer place If you have time, test the evacuation route before you actually need it. Move your car to a covered structure or off-site location. The anxiety will be high during an evacuation, so advanced preparation will be easier than trying to do it on the day of the hurricane.
Prepare Your Pets-If you own a pet, make sure you have all they need if they must be moved. This can be very stressful for animals, so if you can transport your pets to a safer place well ahead of time it will help you stay focused during an evacuation situation.
Do An Inspection-Take a good look at your home and property and confirm there is no existing damage that a hurricane could increase. Anything left outside could be seriously damaged by the wind and flooding. Structural issues should be taken care of if you have time. Reinforcing shingles, windows, and fences may help decrease the amount of damage. Take pictures if you can so you will have accurate before and after information to submit for any insurance purposes.
Electronics-In addition to keeping extra batteries around for flashlights, phones, and radios, make sure you backup any electronic devices. The best way to do this is to store the data at an off-site location so it can be recovered if something happens to the physical computer or electronic device during a hurricane.
For more up to the minute information, The Texas Department of Transportation has issued an evacuation guide with highlighted routes and important tips. This can easily be printed out and used as a checklist for preparing now.