Storms Remind Residents to Prepare for Flooding

The sudden rush of water in Houston's bayous and roadways yesterday serve as a reminder of how area residents need to prepare for storms and flooding. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, local officials say local residents need to be ready for anything.

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It's been five years since Tropical Storm Allison made her famed stop in Houston. The storms this weekend reminded Harris County Judge Robert Eckels of that storm.

"Tropical Storm Allison was this type of event that started close, moved in, moved off. It wasn't a major hurricane, but became a major event, major rain event, water event. It's a reminder to folks to, one, get flood insurance. You don't have to live in Harris County in a flood plain to need to be worried about flooding in your community. Most of the areas that have flooded in this event have been street flooding, ponding. It's not the bayou running out of its banks and flooding your home, it's the water that can't get to the bayou when you get 12 or 13 inches of rain in a matter of hours."

Regional officials have been preparing for months for what could happen if a major storm or hurricane hits the area. Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Montgomery says they drill and practice for disasters and the response to this event was a good guage of readiness efforts.

"The community is very well prepared for these type of events, both from a local responder, but also from elected officials' standpoint and county and city governments. The lessons we learned during Rita obviously helped us better prepare but localized flooding events like this are commonplace in Houston and both the city and the county are very well prepared for these."

While emergency crews were ready to assist residents and motorists, many Houstonians were caught unprepared for flooding and power outages. Houston Area Red Cross Spokeswoman Denise Bishop says people should have a disaster kit assembled for more than just hurricane or evacuation needs.

"It's really good to have all your supplies in just kind of a plastic tub. It's great to know 'hey, I have a flashlight there, I have batteries there, I have some canned food, I have a manual can opener, I have paper towels, I have extra toilet paper.' Things like that, that you need at home and if you leave you also need those items. So it's always a good idea to have a disaster supplies kit and truly there are very few things that most people need to buy. Most people have the things they need to put in a kit at home."

Simple street flooding can leave someone stranded for a day or two and those supplies could come in handy. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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