Hurricane Harvey Preparations


TEXAS, GULF COAST – A hurricane warning was issued for much of Texas’ central and southern coast on Thursday morning, affecting approximately 1.4 million people, as Tropical Storm Harvey regained strength while drifting into the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is expected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday. Of the people in 16 counties under a hurricane warning, about 325,000 of them are in Corpus Christi.

And while hurricane-force winds are doubtless a concern as Harvey continues rebuilding strength in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm’s potential deluge and subsequent flooding may be the biggest danger, according to meteorologists.

Officials at Padre Island National Seashore will close the park’s roughly 70 miles of beaches by noon Thursday while alerting campers and anglers to leave ahead of the expected storm tide, said Patrick Gamman, information officer and chief of interpretation and education.

An expected storm surge of 4-6 feet would completely cover the beach and could create driving hazards after the water recedes.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the park had not closed its campsites, but this could change based on the storm threat. The park is not accepting camping reservations.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department operates coastal fish hatcheries in Lake Jackson, Palacios and Flour Bluff, along with about a dozen coastal fisheries field offices spread along the coast.

All are preparing for the storm by making plans to move equipment and research vessels inland if needed, said Lance Robinson, deputy director of the Coastal Fisheries Division.

Officials said if the threat of severe weather becomes imminent, park personnel could be evacuated. A threat of severe flooding and wind damage would trigger the removal of essential computer equipment and all park boats. At worse, the staff would set up temporary headquarters at San Antonio Mission National Historic Park.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department operates coastal fish hatcheries in Lake Jackson, Palacios and Flour Bluff, along with about a dozen coastal fisheries field offices spread along the coast.

All are preparing for the storm by making plans to move equipment and research vessels inland if needed, said Lance Robinson, deputy director of the Coastal Fisheries Division.

Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas and areas over 100 miles inland, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific. A significant per cent of fatalities occur outside of landfall counties with causes due to inland flooding.

According to NIOSH, working in physically demanding, unclean, or unstable work environments, such as hurricane recovery areas, raises the question of whether work exposures will have adverse health consequences.

The likelihood of such adverse health outcomes will depend on factors such as work load and work duration, type and severity of work exposures, and work organization, as well as the workers’ prior physical and mental health status, knowledge about and experience with disaster work, and precautions taken while working (e.g., work practices, personal protective equipment).

Because of potential health risks inherent in post-disaster work, screening programs should be undertaken to determine the extent, if any, to which individual workers have been adversely affected by their work and to identify as early as possible any affected workers needing preventive measures or medical care.

Because the conditions encountered by response and recovery workers may involve complex, uncontrolled environments, possibly involving multiple or mixed chemical exposures, hazardous substances, microbial agents, temperature extremes, long work shifts, or stressful experiences, all such workers should receive some assessment as a precaution.

This may range from completion of brief assessment forms to more comprehensive and focused evaluations. High priority worker groups include those most likely to have exposures to hazardous agents or conditions and those reporting outbreaks of similar adverse health outcomes.

Public health criteria, such as frequency of adverse health effects; their severity, preventability, or communicability; public interest; and cost effectiveness, are often useful for setting screening priorities.