— -- A local leader in one coastal Texas community is advising residents who are not evacuating ahead of Hurricane Harvey to mark their names and Social Security numbers on their arms.
The mayor pro tem of Rockport, Texas, said that grim step is necessary to prepare for the worst in case of deaths among people who remain in the area.
"We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number," Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios said at a news conference this morning.
"We hate to talk about things like that," he said. "It's not something we like to do but it’s the reality, people don’t listen."
Seven counties and five cities, including Rockport, have issued mandatory evacuations, while several other areas have issued voluntary evacuations.
For those evacuating or staying, certain steps can be taken ahead of the storm's expected landfall early Saturday morning to protect your home and property from damage.
What to do outside
According to Ready.gov, the disaster-preparedness website run by the Department of Homeland Security, several steps can help to mitigate damage to the exterior of your home.
Trimming nearby trees and getting rid of loose limbs that could be ripped off in hurricane-force winds is one step that can be taken months in advance.
Securing loose rain gutters and cleaning them out can prevent a buildup of debris that could lead to flooding.
Fill cars with gas and park vehicles in garages where available.
Officials also recommend boarding up windows and doors and securely locking any hurricane shutters on your property.
Setting up inside
For those staying in their homes, some key supplies can be purchased ahead of time, like portable generators that should be kept dry and outside of the main house, ideally in a shed or garage.
Bottled water and nonperishable food are key supplies. Access to clean water may be limited for several days, and it may not be possible to leave your home for more supplies. Canned food is a good option, and make sure to have a manual (nonelectric) can opener.
Protect important documents and paper items from flooding by storing them in a dry, safe place, ideally either on an upper floor or in a higher location on a lower floor.
Prepare a first-aid kit, and make sure that any necessary medications are available in sufficient amounts to carry individuals through multiple days.
In prior hurricanes, FEMA has recommended that homeowners unplug electronic equipment — including computers, televisions and wireless routers — and move them to a safe place. Even if households have surge protectors, lightning strikes could be hazardous.
Officials have also recommended rolling up area rugs and storing them on higher floors to reduce the chance of mold.