2021 hurricane season: 5 things Texas Gulf Coast residents should do to prepare

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Leaders in Harris County expressed concern Tuesday night about the urgent need to prepare for hurricane season after a string of disasters hit our community.

As part of his job with Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Francisco Sanchez helps steer the county's response to such events, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic and February's historic winter storms.

Speaking during ABC13's town hall Tuesday night marking day one of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, Sanchez acknowledged weariness on the part of residents, but also the importance of this moment.

"This is the nature of living along the Gulf Coast. Get ready," Sanchez said. "If you can do that, you are well on your way to being part of a more resilient community."

With NOAA forecasters predicting an above-average hurricane season this year, and the close encounter with Hurricane Laura in 2020, experts who spoke to ABC13 said the time to prepare is now.

"It does only take one," said Lance Wood, science operations officer at National Weather Service-League City said. "Even if we had a below-normal forecast, I would be preaching that."

In May, we told you that NOAA predicts we could see as many as 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 of which could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher.

Three to five major hurricanes are predicted as likely, reaching categories 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher, but Wood said he does not believe we'll see the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.

When preparing for hurricane season, here are some things to consider:

1. Build a hurricane kit
Sanchez said you and your pets should have enough food, water, medicine and essential supplies to last 7-10 days, whether you're hunkered down at home or forced to evacuate.

2. Make a plan
How will you communicate with your family? Is texting the most efficient way to share information? Where will you go if you are forced to evacuate? Sanchez said these are questions that need answers now, rather than later.

3. Stay weather aware
Look for trusted news sources like the ABC13 news app, and avoid getting news directly from social media where misinformation lurks, Sanchez said. You can also text "GULF2021" to 888777 to subscribe to Harris County's ReadyHarris alerts.

4. Consider getting flood insurance right now
With the 2021 hurricane season already here, time is of the essence. Sanchez said it takes 30 days for flood insurance to take effect, so the sooner you do this, the better. Check out these 8 facts about getting flood insurance.

5. Need help evacuating? Register for STEAR
If you are a person with a disability, limited mobility, communication barriers or require transportation or personal care assistance, the state of Texas offers a free registry that gives local emergency officials additional information on needs in our community, which can include help evacuating during a disaster.

Watch a recap of the event, live newscasts and in-depth reporting from ABC13 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Google TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."

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