Angelina Co. readies for hurricane season

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Emergency management officials hope they're meeting for nothing.

"Let's just pray that that's the way it is," said Keith Wright, the Lufkin Deputy City Manager.

As a sheltering hub for Texas, Angelina County emergency coordinators prepare to receive evacuees in an "above normal" hurricane season.

"It's always important every year because regardless if we're forecasting a very active year or even a below-active year, all it takes is just one storm to leave it's mark or impact on a community," said Brad Hlozek, chief meteorologist at KTRE. "And that's why we need to be prepared."

Memories of Ike aren't too far off. Neither is a brand new mega-shelter.

"We will have triage area for determining what they're medical condition is," Wright said. "We will have showers available. We will also have a staging area for an ambulance, medical services."

The shelter will essentially double the size of the existing civic center. The multi-million dollar facility will meet ADA standards and hold up to 700 evacuees. There will be more parking when construction is complete on the shelter than there is now.

"It feels good to get this thing off the ground," Wright said.

City grants and federal funding from Hurricane Ike will pay for the building.

Volunteers are needed to help run it, because predictions often come true.

"When you look back at 2010, it was one of the most active years on record," Hlozek said. "But the public perception is it was a quiet year because we didn't have any major, landfalling hurricanes hit the U.S. Coast. We may not be that fortunate this year which is why we have to keep our guard up."

"I guess you can't just live in anxiety," said Glenna Harkness, the Red Cross branch manager. "We'll take whatever we get and hope that we're prepared for it."

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