City of Sweeny | Hurricane Safety & Preparedness
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Hurricane Safety & Preparedness

2006 Hurricane Evacuation Contraflow Routes (PDF, 457KB)

Introduction

Hurricanes cause massive damage and loss of life. From the 1900 storm that devastated Galveston Island, killing more than 6,000 people, to Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Texas has weathered 10 of the 30 worst hurricanes in United States history. Since then, thousands of new residents have moved into high-risk areas with little or no experience of preparing for or surviving storms of such magnitude. Many other Texans have acquired a false sense of security believing that, "It won't happen to me." Don't be a casualty of our next hurricane. Plan ahead...the following information will help.

For quicker navigation each sub-topic has been hyperlinked in this document.  Click on the subtopic or scroll down to view the entire contents of this page.

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

BEFORE THE STORM

Disaster Shelters

Evacuation

Disaster Supplies

AFTER THE STORM

OTHER INFORMATION

 

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Definitions

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

A 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity.  This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.  Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region.


Tropical Cyclone

A warm-core cyclone or storm not associated with a cold front.  A tropical cyclone will have organized deep convection or thunderstorm activity and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.

 

Tropical Depression

A type of tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of less than 39 miles per hour.

 

Tropical Storm

A type of tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of between 39 mile per hour and 73 miles per hour.

 

Hurricane

The most extreme form of tropical cyclone in which maximum sustained winds are greater than 73 miles per hour.

 

Tropical Storm Watch

An announcement for specific coastal areas that tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.

 

Tropical Storm Warning

A warning that sustained winds within the range of 39 to 73 miles per hour associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours.

 

Hurricane Watch

An announcement for specific coastal areas that hurricane conditions are possible within 24 hours.

 

Hurricane Warning

A warning that sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher associated with a hurricane are expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours.  A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

 

Eye-wall

An organized band or of thunderstorm clouds that surround the eye or relatively calm storm center.

 

Storm Surge

The abnormal rise in sea level caused by the effects of wind from a hurricane or other intense storm.  Storm surge is not a sweeping tidal wave.

 

Storm Tide

If the storm surge arrives at the same time as high tide, the water height will be even greater.  The storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and the normal tide.

 

Flooding

Flooding may result from either rainfall or storm surge inundation.  A large amount of rainfall within a short period of time causes the fallen water to collect outside the normal boundaries of ditches, rivers, streams, lakes, and flood canals.  Depending on natural and man-made factors, the following associated hazards are possible:

  • Drowning

  • Electrocution from fallen live wires

  • Sickness from drinking contaminated water

  • Property damage or loss

  • Possible attacks from pets and wild animals (snakes, dogs, alligators, rats, etc.) escaping the flood waters

 

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2006 Tropical Storm & Hurricane Names

Storm Name
Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

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Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Scale Number

(Category)

Sustained Winds

(MPH)

Damage

1 74 - 95 Minimal
2 96 - 110 Moderate
3 111 - 130 Extensive
4 131 - 155 Extreme
5 >155 Catastrophic

The extent of wind damage is based upon the hurricane's strength or wind speed. The National Hurricane Center uses the Saffir-Simpson Scale to classify hurricanes by their wind speeds into five categories.

Category

Damage Examples
1

BulletMinimal structural damage

BulletMobile homes at risk

BulletPower lines, signs, and tree branches blown down

BulletStorm surge - 4 to 5 feet

2

BulletModerate structural damage to walls, roofs, and windows

BulletMobile homes at greater risk

BulletLarge signs and tree branches blown down

BulletStorm surge - 6 to 8 feet

3

BulletExtensive structural damage to walls, roofs, and windows

BulletTrees blown down

BulletStorm surge - 9 - 12 feet

4

BulletExtreme damage to structures and roofs

BulletTrees uprooted

BulletStorm surge - 13 to 18 feet

5

BulletCatastrophic damage

BulletStructures destroyed

BulletStorm surge - 18 feet or higher

PLEASE NOTE:  Flying debris or projectiles such as signs, trees, glass, roof shingles, lawn furniture, and toys can cause severe property damage as well as major injuries or even death.

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Am I at risk from a hurricane?

Look at the color-coded maps below to find out how you would be affected by a hurricane. It shows the areas at risk from winds, rain, and storm surge associated with hurricanes. There are five of these risk areas, each shown in a different color and each corresponding to one of the five categories of hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The stronger the storm, the greater the inland impact will be and the more risk areas affected.  Notice Sweeny is in Risk Area 5 the lowest risk area.

Brazoria County Hurricane Risk Map Brazoria County Flood Risk Map
Brazoria County Hurricane Risk Map Brazoria County Flood Risk Map

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BEFORE THE STORM

How will I know when to evacuate?

Your local officials will tell you. During a "hurricane watch," listen to your radio or television constantly. Emergency officials can interrupt routine broadcasts to give special weather updates, warning messages, and evacuation information. Tune to KTRK, 740 AM; KPRC, 950 AM or KLOL, 101.1 FM for this information. For 24-hour weather broadcasts from the National Weather Service, tune to NOAA Weather Radio on the high-band FM frequency 162.55 megahertz (MHz) that broadcasts from Galveston, 162.40 MHz that broadcasts from Houston, or 162.425 MHz that broadcasts from Bay City.  Information will also be posted on our home page.

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What can I do to prepare for a storm?

While there are no sure ways to predict when and where a hurricane will come ashore in Texas, both cities and counties have emergency managers whose job is to prepare the community and its citizens for these storms and other disasters. For answers to specific questions you may have concerning hurricanes and preparing for them, contact your local Emergency Management Office.  However, a wide variety of information has been posted on this Web page.  

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How should I prepare for an evacuation?

Prepare a "disaster supplies kit" and put it in your vehicle. Make sure your car is in good repair and full of gas. Secure your home: turn off the gas, water, and electricity; board up the windows and draw drapes across them; brace garage doors; bring in or secure any loose objects in the yard; and lock all windows and doors. If you have a boat, secure it on a trailer near your house and fill it with water. Make arrangements for pets before you leave; most public shelters, and many hotels and motels do not allow them. Leave a note telling where you plan to go. Designate an out-of-area contact that family and friends can call to get information on your whereabouts. Finally, designate a meeting point for your family should you get separated.

The City of Sweeny urges residents who leave the area during hurricanes to e-mail us with your plans and contact information to assist emergency responders during times of disaster and recovery.  Use this link: info@ci.sweeny.tx.us.

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What if I need help to evacuate?

Arrange beforehand with friends or family to help you evacuate. If you have no one to turn or you have special needs, get in touch with your local officials now. They need to know who you are, where you live, and what kind of help you need so they can be ready to provide aid when a storm threatens.  Call the Sweeny Police Department to provide this information, or e-mail the information to us.  Use this link: inbox@sweenypolice.org.  The information will be placed in a database for quick and easy retrieval in times of emergencies.

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How long will it take to evacuate?

That depends on the size of the storm and the number of people who evacuate. Remember, the goal is to get everyone out of the threatened area before evacuation routes become impassable or unsafe due to flooding or high winds. This will happen when the storm is still many hours away from landfall. So, don't be surprised if there are no clouds and the sun is shining when local officials tell you to evacuate. Follow their instructions; your health and safety are their main concern.

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Where should I go?

Inland...away from the coast. Use the evacuation routes shown on a map. Most of these roads are marked with blue hurricane evacuation signs. If you have friends or family at an inland location, arrange beforehand to stay with them. If you plan to stay in a hotel or motel, make reservations prior to departure to ensure you have a room. Cities and towns along the main evacuation routes may open public shelters, but these will be crowded and the "creature comforts" limited. If you need to use a public shelter, listen to your radio as you are evacuating to find out where shelters are open.

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Hurricane Survival Tips

When Officials Recommend an Evacuation

  • Coordinate your departure with the people who will be traveling with you
  • Notify an out-of-area person of your evacuation plans
  • Notify the City of Sweeny via e-mail of your evacuation plans
  • Secure your home
  • Pack your disaster supplies kit into your vehicle. Double check your evacuation route and leave

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Who Should Plan to Leave Early?

  • Persons living on the coast, on barrier islands, or in low-lying or flood-prone areas
  • Persons who live in manufactured housing
  • Persons with special needs including health or mobility-related concerns

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Secure Your Home

  • Turn off gas, water, and electricity
  • Board up windows
  • Draw drapes across windows
  • Brace garage doors
  • Bring in outdoor furniture and other loose objects; anchor those items you cannot bring inside
  • Place boats on trailers; locate near home; and fill boats with water
  • Lock all windows and doors
  • Make arrangements for pets before leaving; most shelters and many hotels and motels do not allow them

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Evacuation Tips

  • Keep your vehicle in good repair with a full tank of fuel
  • Check on friends and neighbors who may have special needs
  • Prepare your disaster supplies kit now and take it with you when you evacuate
  • Secure your home quickly; evacuate when asked to do so
  • Have an out-of-area point of contact whom family and friends can cal to learn your evacuation plans
  • Designate a meeting point for your family should you get separated
  • If possible, have a CB radio or other form of communication to take with you. Use it only for emergencies
  • Monitor local radio and television constantly for the latest news and information

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Your Disaster Supplies Kit

  • Can opener
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Bedding or sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Bleach (without lemon or other additives)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Extra prescription medicine or refill information
  • Baby food, diapers and formula
  • First aid kit
  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Eating utensils
  • Tarp, rope and duct tape
  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra keys
  • Extra eyeglasses or prescription information
  • Hearing aid or other special-need items
  • Important papers including insurance
  • Money, checks, or credit cards
  • Name, address, and telephone number of an out-of-area contact person

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AFTER THE STORM

Returning Home

Returning home after a major disaster can be both dangerous and difficult.  Be careful entering a disaster area.  Before returning to an area that has been evacuated, make sure that local officials have advised it is safe to travel through areas between where you are and home.

Following a major hurricane, it may take several weeks to restore services and clear roads and several months to remove all the debris from the neighborhoods.  Be patient and also keep in mind that the better prepared you are, the less inconvenienced you will be.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Return home only when authorities advise it is safe to do so.
  • Stay tuned to the radio (battery-operated) for information about available emergency assistance.
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary.  Avoid sightseeing.
  • Check for injured or trapped persons and provide first aid, if trained.
  • Wear heavy shoes or boots for protection.
  • Beware of snakes, insects, or animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
  • Enter your home with caution.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry the home.
  • Check food and water supply before using them.
  • Check your home for structural damage or defects.
  • ALWAYS HAVE UTILITIES TURNED BACK ON BY A PROFESSIONAL.

Inspect utilities:

  • Check the gas, electrical, and water lines for damage. 
  • Check for fires and extinguish all open flames.
  • Check utility lines and appliances for damage.  If electrical wiring appears to be shorting out, close the switch at the main meter box or disconnect the main fuse.
  • Open windows and leave the building if gas appears to be leaking.  Call the fire department, police department, or gas company (City of Sweeny).
  • Plug bathtub and sink drains to prevent backup.
  • If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company (City of Sweeny).  Do not use water from the tap.  Obtain emergency water from hot water tanks, toilet tank (not bowls), and melted ice cubes.

Life may never return to "normal" for victims of a major disaster.  Experiencing a major disaster such as a hurricane can be a traumatic experience that changes peoples lives forever.  A sense of security may be lost and in most cases, there is some sort of property loss involved.

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OTHER INFORMATION

More Information

Survival in a hurricane

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures/hurricane.htm

 

Hurricane Awareness Information Kit

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem

 

Hurricane Name Lists

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

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References

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Hurricane Tracking Chart

An 8"x10" Hurricane Tracking Chart is available here.  It can be downloaded and printed for the tracking of each storm.  NOTE: The image is a pdf file and requires Adobe Reader 6.0 or later. 

Western Atlantic Hurricane Tracking Chart

(Courtesy NOAA/NHC)

Evacuation Map

The Brazoria County Office of Emergency Management has provided an updated Evacuation Map for the Brazoria/Galveston/Houston area.  NOTE: The image is a pdf file and requires Adobe Reader 6.0 or later.

Tropical Storm Allison

When Tropical Storm Allison made landfall on June 5, 2001, its sustained winds were only 48 miles an hour, yet over the next five days, Allison dropped 38 inches of rain in parts of Southeast Texas causing widespread, catastrophic flooding.  Tropical Storm Allison was the costliest tropical storm in U.S. history.  For more information on this topic, visit the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project.

For more info...

For more information on hurricane safety, preparedness, and other related topics, contact the Sweeny Police Department at 979-548-3111 or by e-mail at the following address: inbox@sweenypolice.org

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