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All Eyes On Storm In The Gulf Of Mexico

Tropical Storm Don is churning up the Gulf of Mexico toward the Texas coast and the American Red Cross urges people to watch where it is headed and get prepared for possible landfall in their community.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Texas coast from the mouth of the Rio Grande River northward to Matagorda. By landfall, the storm is expected to carry winds as high as 60 mph.

“The most important thing people can do is get ready now in case their area should be in the path of this storm,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. Folks should stay informed and follow the instructions of local emergency officials to stay safe.”

The Red Cross is watching Tropical Storm Don and making preparations to open shelters and move relief supplies and emergency response vehicles into the area if needed. After the storm passes, Red Cross workers will circulate through affected communities to assess damage and determine if additional support is needed.

Tropical storms by definition can carry winds up to more than 70 mph. The tropical storm watch issued for the Texas coast means there is a threat of tropical storm conditions within 36 hours. People should get prepared, review their disaster plans, and be ready to act if a warning is issued.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected in the area in the next 24 hours or less. People should complete their storm preparations and leave the area if local officials direct them to do so.

The Red Cross has other steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe should the storm hit their area. Before the storm, they should:

  • Check emergency supplies and replace or restock as needed. Their disaster kit should contain items such as gallons of water, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and sanitation and personal hygiene items. More information about what to include is available on the Red Cross web site.
  • Create an evacuation plan with members of the household and practice it to cut down on any confusion.
  • Plan routes to community shelters; register family members with special needs as required.
  • Make plans for pets.

If forecasters predict the storm will hit someone’s neighborhood, they should:

  • Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind.
  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off any propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
  • Fill their vehicle’s gas tank.
  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If they don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up windows and doors with plywood.
  • Listen to local authorities and evacuate if advised to do so. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

After the storm:

  • Return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until they are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Keep animals under their direct control.

Full details about the steps people can take to stay safe are available on the Red Cross web site.