Lufkin Leaders Prepare for the Storm - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/29/06 - Lufkin

Lufkin Leaders Prepare for the Storm

by Ramonica R. Jones

From fuel availability to shelter capacity to traffic flow, most East Texas towns are better prepared for Hurricane Season 2006. Because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Lufkin city leaders are more aware of what could happen. But those aren't the only storms that taught them a lesson.

Emergency Management Coordinator Pete Prewitt said, "If you'll recall Hurricane Lilly, approximately five or six years back, had a minor impact on the City of Lufkin. We had about 6,000 people come through our shelter management center at that time."

Lufkin city leaders have complete confidence in their new hurricane preparedness plan, but some Lufkin residents aren't so sure they'll be in good hands when the next hurricane hits.

Annette Hutson said, "I hope they would've taken extra measures as to route the people in the correct way they needed to go; to have more staff on hand at the hospitals if necessary."

Lucille Price said, "I think we'll be able to handle it. I think we did real good last season, so I think if it comes up again, we'll be able to handle it."

Carrying out planned improvements, instead of making the same mistakes made last year, is the goal of government agencies across the nation. Errors made during Hurricane Season 2005 were hard lessons learned that won't be forgotten.

"Pre-positioning, installation of emergency generators, things of that nature, have been completed," Prewitt said. "We're going to have an alternate [Emergency Operations Center] in addition to our main E.O.C. in the city, and that should ease the load."

All Lufkin gas stations will have plenty of fuel before a storm hits. City leaders also plan to have portable fuel tanks at different locations throughout Lufkin and possibly build a fuel depot to store large amounts of gasoline.

This time around, 39 shelters will open in Angelina County, 30 of them will be in Lufkin.

The Task Force on Evacuation Transportation and Logistics has held several public hearings across the state. The group made specific recommendations to improve the evacuation process on the Texas coast. They are part of Lufkin's plan.

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