La Feria News

La Feria Readies for Hurricane Season

La Feria Police Station will become the Emergency Command Headquarters: Police Chief Don Garcia and Communication Sergeant Elisa Rodriguez will handle all emergency communication during a hurricane warning.

La Feria Police Station will become the Emergency Command Headquarters: Police Chief Don Garcia and Communication Sergeant Elisa Rodriguez will handle all emergency communication during a hurricane warning.

A visit with Police Chief Don Garcia

Bill Keltner

Bill Keltner

The 2016 hurricane season gets into gear beginning next month and will officially run until the end of November. So for the next few months all eyes will be watching the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico for signs of tropical storms that could impact the lower South Texas coast. That is especially so, because the National Weather Service has not made their official forecast for the season yet, but will do so by the end of the month, along with the names assigned to the major storms.

Barry Goldsmith, the NWS lead forecaster said not to be lulled into a sense of security by low predictions, recalling the 1967 hurricane season. “There were only 8 storms predicted that year, one of the lowest on record,” he said, adding, “and the catastrophic storm Beulah was only the second storm that year when she came ashore on September 20th of that year. People who survived Beulah still talk about it–’and, where were you during Beulah?’”

With all that going on, it is high time to meet with La Feria Police Chief, Don Garcia, to find out how ready we are in La Feria for a long-delayed major strike by a tropical storm. His words were encouraging.

He said that in many ways we are better prepared to handle emergencies than before. “Last year we had a joint meeting with myself, and officers of the Criminal Investigation Division of the La Feria Police Department with a task force composed of members of the La Feria Volunteer Fire Department, the City Manager, the Assistant School Superintendent and Mayor Victor Gonzalez,” he said. “We have scheduled a follow up meeting later this month.”

“The city has hammered out a plan to provide school buses to transport people to shelters if needed,” he said. “The police and fire departments will work with the schools to coordinate and direct this rescue project. This is something new and should reassure our citizens that someone is available to call if they have no one to help.”

Another improvement Chief Garcia mentioned was the upgrading of the interdepartmental communication system. “In the past, we have had confusion because all the local, state and federal agencies were on different radio frequencies and couldn’t talk to one another.” he explained. “However, this year, we have in place a new radio system which will allow us to coordinate communication among the local and state police officers, EMS, federal Law enforcement officers including the F.B.I. and immigration services. We’ll all be sharing a common dedicated, secure radio frequency. We sorely needed this,” Chief Garcia said.

“All the members of the La Feria Police Department have been instructed in case of a declared tropical storm warning to take good care of their own families first, then report for duty here at the Emergency Command Headquarters in the police station for assignments,” he said. “As for as myself, I‘ll be here during any emergency–I usually camp out here in my office,” he added.

Don Garcia has been on the force for 27 years and has been Chief of Police for 15 years. With what he has seen, he still stresses that all these improvements are going to help, but regardless of weather reports and warnings, each citizen must take it upon himself to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of family members and the protection of property to the best of their.ability–not to rely on others.

He said a sensible thing to do even now would be: (1) Have on hand plywood cut and ready to board up windows, (2) Trim trees around your home, (3) Clear gutters and ditches to allow water to flow freely, (4) Have on hand enough water, food, flashlights, radios and enough batteries. (Remember: power will probably fail and your TV will be useless). Also, make decisions about your pets and their welfare–they’ll be scared too.

Also, a reminder to check your insurance and any valuable papers.

The greatest damage damage during tropical storms, besides the winds, is the flooding that follows–don’t take any chances. “Remember, it just takes one storm to make a memorable hurricane year.”

LA FERIA NEWS will provide more specific information if a storm seems to be taking aim on the lower Texas coast. Also, write down the emergency telephone for the La Feria Police Emergency Center. It is (956) 797 3121. Let’s hope we won’t need it, but keep it handy just in case.

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