NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - East Texans once watched hurricanes with a casual interest. Now they tune into the newscasts showing weather reporters saying into a microphone, "The normally tranquil Gulf is wild," with the reporter being blown into the camera by hurricane force winds. The increased interest is generated by hurricanes Rita and Ike which came inland as far as Nacogdoches County. Now when a hurricane is headed this way, East Texans sit up and take notice in a variety of ways.
Sfa's Columbia Regional Geospatial Center helps by providing deployment troops, technology and training. Beginning next week Columbia will train guard units a practice to be enacted this year as ordered by the governor. "We've been working for the past year with the Texas military forces on a wide area damage assessment program," explained P.R. Blackwell, director of the Columbia. "We're helping them develop the procedures and we're training the troops on how to do this." www.crqsc.org
High winds may be isolated to certain areas, but the state legislature knows now to look at hurricane damage as a statewide issue. New laws addressing the financial impact of high winds and downed electrical lines were passed this session. On a national level, President Obama is urging residents of hurricane-prone communities to take responsibility for their own safety and start planning now. Forecasters are predicting four to seven hurricanes this year, of which one to three are likely to be major storms.