La Feria News

AARP Hosts First Hurricane Preparedness Fair

County Judge Eddie Treviño, right, addresses the public during the first AARP Hurricane Preparedness Fair. To his right is Veronica De Lafuente of ARRP. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Be prepared, be ready to evacuate when the order comes up and keep informed as much as possible.

That was the message as the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season begins this Saturday, June 1, and will run through Saturday, Nov. 30.

And although the six-month forecast calls for an average season perhaps with four major storms, remember that it takes one big one to cause widespread damages to people’s lives and properties.

Weather experts, emergency management staff, police, insurance agents and others met Tuesday, May 21, for the first annual hurricane preparedness fair sponsored by ARRP.

Topics ranging from preparedness, building an emergency supply kit, storm survival tips, recommendation for family caregivers, legal issues, charity and home repair scams were covered during the two-hour long fair held at the Brownsville Events Center.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño said the Rio Grande Valley has been fortunate for dodging a number of storms, but flooding has been an issue as it happened twice last year where more than 14 inches of rain fell in parts of this region.

“We had horrible floods,” he said. “That is why it’s so important to have an event such as this one.”

Tom Hushen, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said whenever an evacuation is ordered people should follow through.

“Remember, we all live in a coastal area,” he said. “We have three days or 72 hours to take all the necessary steps before a storm hits us.”

Hushen said it takes a lot of time to evacuate a city with 200,000-plus residents like Brownsville has.

Barry Goldsmith, acting meteorologist-in-charge with the National Weather Service office, told the 200 or so people attending the fair not to pay too much attention to the 100 or 500 year flood or the season forecast.

Chuck Hoskins left, of the county emergency management office, talks to Richard Hernandez about the upcoming hurricane season. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

Some of the storms that caused damages in the millions of dollars in the Valley were what he called “category nada.”

These storms did not bring any winds to the region but dumped inches and inches of rainfall.

Though he said he is not an insurance representative, Goldsmith strongly recommends to buy flood insurance even though some people tend to believe they live in flood free areas.

He said a dollar a day put into a piggy bank results in $365 at the end of a year – enough money to buy a flood insurance policy.

He said such a policy kicks in 30 days after it’s bought so don’t procrastinate.

Among those attending the fair were Roger McKnight and Richard Hernandez.

“There is a lot of information available here,” McKnight said. “I did not know that a section of Highway 77 will close during an evacuation.

He was referring to a stretch from Raymondville to Rivera shown on a map, which will be closed to traffic if a storm threat is imminent.

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