May 31, 2024 - News

How to prepare now for hurricane season in Houston

Illustration of a pattern consisting of a water bottle, a flashlight, a whistle, duct tape, a battery, and a can opener.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's that time we all collectively dread: The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season starts tomorrow, and early forecasts say it will be a doozy.

Why it matters: Houstonians know better than most that it takes only one bad storm to alter a region forever.

  • A tropical cyclone formation is not expected in the next week, per the National Hurricane Center, but now is the time to prepare, before the tropics heat up.

Threat level: More than 2 million residential properties in Houston are at moderate or higher risk of hurricane wind damage, with total possible reconstruction costs exceeding $671 billion, according to a new report by analytics firm CoreLogic.

  • Nearly 200,000 homes are at moderate or higher risk of storm surge damage, estimated to be a combined $52.6 billion in reconstruction cost value, per CoreLogic.

The big picture: Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30.

  • Systems can form any time, but historically, the most active period for strong storms in the Gulf of Mexico is August and September, Janice Maldonado, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Houston, tells Axios.
  • Nine of the 13 tropical cyclones to hit the Houston area since the Great Galveston Hurricane in 1900 have struck in August and September.

Flashback: The above-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season saw 20 named storms, ranking fourth for the most named storms in a year. Seven storms intensified to hurricanes and three were major hurricanes, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

What to do now: Start mentally preparing for hurricane season and looking at your options. Check this map to see if you're in an evacuation zone. And if you are, plan where you'd go.

  • If there are people or animals you care for, make a plan now for how you'd keep them safe.
  • Stock up on food, get your emergency kit ready, check your insurance policies, and gather and digitize all your important documents.
  • Sign up for the city's emergency notification system, AlertHouston.
  • Stay on top of the tropics via the National Hurricane Center.

Here are some tips from FEMA, the National Weather Service and hurricane veterans.

Supplies

  • Stock up on water and nonperishable food to last at least 4 days. Here are some nonperishable food ideas. Stock up on pet food as well.
  • Get flashlights, batteries and any backup power you need, such as battery packs for phones. See our suggestions for an emergency kit.
  • Make sure you always have a week of your prescription medications.

Home

  • Check your insurance policies for homeowners, flood or renters. What do they cover and what's your deductible?
  • Take a video inside and outside your home in case you need to make an insurance claim. Here's how you create a home inventory.
  • Test your generator if you have one and do any required maintenance.
  • Gather important documents you may need during an evacuation and make sure they're digitized.
  • Cut any weak branches and trees that could fall on your house or your neighbors' home.
  • Inspect your roof and make any repairs.
  • Install storm shutters or get plywood panels to fit your windows. Shutters and storm panels take several weeks to procure so do this early.
  • Clean your gutters and keep the catch basin near your home clean.
  • Seal any outside wall openings with caulk to prevent water entry.
  • Do a general yard cleanup of things that could be blown around in strong winds.
  • If you rent, check with your landlord about your responsibilities ahead of and during a storm.

Vehicle

  • Get your vehicle checked out and do any needed maintenance now.
  • Top off your gas tank early and often during hurricane season. It will save you time if you need to evacuate because the lines will get very long once there's a threat in the Gulf.

People

  • Coordinate with loved ones and older folks who may need help preparing for a storm and evacuating.
  • Get your neighbors' phone numbers and talk with them about their plans.
  • Make sure your child's school has your current contact info so you can stay informed about storm-related school closures.

Pets

  • Get a copy of your pet's shot records. They are often required if staying in a storm shelter or pet-friendly hotel.
  • Have a leash and a pet carrier if you need to evacuate.
  • Stock up on pet food.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Houston.

More Houston stories