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Hurricane Preparedness

Disaster Relief

This article provides the steps to take to prepare for a hurricane. Specifically, finding an evacuation plan, preparing your home, what to do after the storm and more. This article was written by TexasLawHelp.

Steps to Take Now

  • Have a disaster supplies kit (see example below).  
  • Know your evacuation route.
  • Plan for pets.  They may not be allowed in some shelters.  Check with your vet, local Humane Society, or SPCA.
  • Sign-up for community alerts that send texts or emails about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc.  You can sign up through your local Office of Emergency Management website.
  • Call 211 if you need transportation help to evacuate.  You must register every year

For more, see the Texas Disaster Manual.

What to do when a Hurricane Approaches

  • Follow local weather updates.  If possible, listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for information from the National Weather Service.
  • Double check your disaster supplies kit.  Make any necessary updates and additions.
  • Make sure your car is ready.  Check gas, oil, water, and tires.

Finalize an Evacuation Plan

  • Plan routes to shelters.

  • If you plan to stay in a hotel, make reservations and confirm before you leave.

  • Make plans for your pets.

  • Make transportation plans if you don’t have a car. If you need transportation help, contact 211 or your local government emergency management agency.

  • Register family members with special medical needs as required.

  • If you evacuate, leave early enough so you don’t get caught in severe weather.

Have a Family Communication Plan

  • Include how to contact each other and where to meet if separated.  
  • Have a contact card for everyone to keep with them.
  • Make sure everyone has a cell phone or prepaid phone card.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to use text messaging.
  • Identify a relative or friend who lives out of the hurricane area for family to notify they are safe.

Prepare Your Home for the Storm

  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by wind (trash cans, potted plants, bicycles, outdoor furniture).
  • Secure windows and doors.  If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.   
  • If you stay at home during a hurricane, go to a wind-safe room.  Stay away from windows and glass doors.  Close all interior doors. Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings.  Keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.  If you’re in doubt about food spoilage, throw it out.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Do not turn off natural gas unless local officials tell you to do so.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Turn off utilities if local officials tell you to do so.
  • Fill clean containers with water for drinking and cooking.   
  • Store water in a bathtub for washing and to flush toilets.

After the Hurricane

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Drive only if necessary.  Be careful about flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Don’t sightsee.  It can interfere with emergency and recovery response.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.  Check for downed power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage before entering your home.
  • Carefully inspect your home and its contents for damage.  Take pictures of damage.
  • Don’t drink tap water or prepare food with it until you’re sure it’s safe.
  • Be careful when cleaning up to avoid injury.  Wear protective clothing.   
  • Beware of insects, animals, and snakes.
  • Be careful about downed trees, downed or dangling power lines, and other debris.
  • If power goes out, turn off or disconnect all appliances and fixtures to avoid damage from sudden surges when power is restored.
  • Use a flashlight.  Do not use candles.  They can cause a fire.
  • Never use a generator inside homes, garages, sheds or similar areas, even if you use fans or open doors and windows for ventilation.  Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and remain for hours, even after the generator is off.
  • Use your phone only for emergency calls.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communication plan or contact the American Red Cross.
  • If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (FEMA) to find the nearest shelter.

Go to your local Disaster Recovery Center to find FEMA, local social services, and legal aid help

Contact Lone Star Legal Aid if you need any post-hurricane legal help, including:

  • Lost or destroyed documents
  • Housing issues, including relocation housing and shelter issues
  • Help with government disaster aid grant applications
  • School enrollment for the children of evacuated families
  • Family law issues caused or made worse by the disaster
  • Auto and life insurance claims; denial of insurance claims
  • Landlord or mortgage company problems
  • Disaster-related unemployment claims
  • Disaster-related food stamp issues
  • Social Security and Medicaid
  • Home repair scams
  • Hurricane-related property rights and tax problems

Disaster Supplies Checklit

___  Cash and coin change

___  One gallon of water per person per day

___  Keep at least a 3-day supply for each person

___  At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable easy-to-make food, for example:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, soup, peanut butter, crackers, fruits, and vegetables
  • Canned juices, milk, instant coffee, tea bags

___  Food for infants, elderly persons, or persons with special diets

___  Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils

___  Aluminum foil, plastic storage containers

___  Non-electric can opener; utility knife; basic tools

___  First aid kit; medications (7-day supply)

___  Medical items (denture needs, hearing aids with batteries, glasses, contact lenses)

___  Bottles and diapers for infants

___  Flashlight and extra batteries

___  Battery-operated radio and extra batteries (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)

___  Blankets and sleeping bags

___  Whistle to call for help

___  Paper, pencils, tape

___  Needles and thread  

___  Toilet paper, towelettes, soap, liquid detergent, personal hygiene items, feminine supplies, plastic garbage bags and ties, plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant, and household chlorine bleach

___  Sunscreen, bug repellant

___  Local maps (for finding shelters)

___  Fully charged cell phone; chargers; batteries

___  Pet supplies, such as collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, and bowl

___  Extra set of car keys and house keys

___  Camera for pictures of damage

___  Sturdy shoes, hats, gloves, sunglasses, rain gear

___  Toys, games, books

Download a copy of this checklist.

Keep These Records in a Water-proof Container:

___  Personal identification

___  Important telephone numbers, including your insurance agent

___  Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks, and bonds

___  Passports, Social Security cards, immunization records

___  Bank account numbers and companies, credit card account numbers and companies

___  Inventory of valuable household items

___  Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

___  Keep a list of contact information, for example:

  • Local emergency management office
  • County law enforcement
  • County fire and rescue
  • State, County, and City Government
  • Local utility companies
  • Local American Red Cross
  • Local hospitals

Also make copies of your driver’s license, Social Security card, passport, birth certificate, and credit cards.  Store these copies in a very safe place in case your originals are lost or destroyed.  You may want to mail these copies to a trusted friend or relative.

Download a copy of this checklist.

For more hurricane preparedness and after-storm help:

Lone Star Legal Aid

(800) 733-8394 |

National Disaster Legal Aid Website

America’s PrepareAthon

National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center

Texas DOT Hurricane Evacuation Information

American Red Cross