Lufkin officials on alert with tropical wave heading towards the gulf

Lufkin officials on alert with tropical wave heading towards the gulf
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Conner checks the weather every morning with Invest 99L spinning over Hispaniola.

Thursday morning, the tropical wave had a strong chance to turn into a disturbance and the models seemed to be split with the storm either going to Florida or to a spot between Louisiana and Texas. Conner said the area should be concerned if the wave moves past Florida and to the Lone star state.

"If it hits Houston you can bet we will see some of it," Conner said.

The last storms the Pineywoods saw where Ike in 2008 and Rita in 2006. Conner said much has changed since then and the area is better prepared.

"Over the years we have progressed on letting people know and getting the information out there now then when Ike and Rita came through," Conner said. "We have better roads and contra-flow lanes set up now. We know how to handle these storms across the state. We know a lot of each other in the emergency world and we can now get together and assist others. If it hits the Houston area then you can bet we will be working with everyone from Lufkin down to the coast."

On the city level, officials learned that they need to be able to be ready and not get bogged down in evacuees traveling through the area.

"We know have our own fuel supply," Assistant City Manager Steve Floyd said. "We can be self sustaining for weeks if need so we will not have to get stuck at the pump or take fuel from regular citizens. That supplies our trucks, equipment and emergency vehicles."

Conner said normal people at home should watch the development but not go into panic mode yet.

"It is early on and we are still waiting to see what happens with the development," Conner said. "Don't get in a hurry. Don't get in a hurry about it. I mean this storm is at least 7 or 8 days away. We have time."

Floyd expects for one main issue; traffic.

"Gridlock in Lufkin again," Floyd said. "We're at the intersection of two highways. One leaving Beaumont and one leaving Houston. We are on the north side of that so people will be here again."

Officials are also hoping recent command center and shelter training with different agencies will go a long way in helping officials be ready for the next big storm.

"The trainings are invaluable," Conner said. "They make sure we are ready and we know what is going on," Conner said.

The Red Cross said even though they can not be for sure the storm will hit, it is a good time to make sure households have kits together.

"Get a kit, make a plan and stay informed," said Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Scott Brawley. "Make sure you have plenty of water at the house. Lot of canned goods in case you have to hunker down for a couple of weeks. One thing we also learned from the last two storms is that it is a good idea to have generators. It is also good to have a decent amount of cash and a radio on you because that might be the only way for someone to get any updates."

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