With our first tropical storm of 2010 looming in the Gulf of Mexico, this is a great time to remind ourselves of the dangers involved with storms in Houston. Hurricane season is officially between June 1 and November 30 and the US government predicts this season to be the worst one since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the US and killed over a thousand people. Please pay special attention during these months to any alerts and if you have a car, keep your gas tanks full at all times. During a hurricane watch, Rice will post updates on the website with the progression of the storm. You should sign up for Rice’s Emergency Alert on Esther to receive an e-mail or text message with alerts.
Rice’s Sheltering Policy
In the event of a storm threat, many departments across the university will begin preparing to implement the university’s sheltering policy, which is part of Rice’s Hurricane Preparedness Plan. In general, the sheltering policy’s guidelines for the 2010 hurricane season are as follows:
- All undergraduates will be offered on-campus shelter, regardless of whether they currently live on or off campus.
- Only those graduate students with housing agreements at the Rice Graduate Apartments or the Rice Village Apartments will be offered on-campus shelter.
- Unless designated as an essential employee of the “rideout” team, faculty and staff will not be sheltered on campus.
Terms to Know
- HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM WATCH: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the Watch, usually within 36 hours. During a Watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning is issued.
- HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM WARNING: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the Warning, usually within 24 hours. Complete storm preparations and leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
- SHORT TERM WATCHES AND WARNINGS: These warnings provide detailed information on specific hurricane threats, such as floods and tornadoes.
- FLOOD/FLASH FLOOD WATCH: This product informs the public and cooperating agencies of possible flooding. If you are in a Watch area, check flood action plans, keep informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued or you see flooding.
- FLOOD/FLASH FLOOD WARNING: A flood/flash flood Warning is issued for specific communities, streams or areas where flooding is imminent or in progress. Persons in the warning area should take precautions IMMEDIATELY!
During a hurricane, we may be requested to evacuate the city. The city is divided by zip zones which will help us evacuate in a safe and orderly manner. They will announce the zip zones that are to be evacuated through the television, radio, and internet. Please do not evacuate the city unless your zip code has been called. You can check the zip zones here:
Below are three websites that will help in preparing for a hurricane. We have also included a list of important items to keep in a kit. You should store all of these items in a large, waterproof container that can easily be stored in your house and taken to your car in case of an evacuation.
National Hurricane Center
Rice’s Hurricane Page
City of Houston’s Hurricane Preparedness video—available in many languages at:
You can also see our previous presentation done on Hurricane Preparedness on our website, in the Past Presentations sections:
Things you should have available:
• Three-day supply of nonperishable food and non-electric can opener.
• Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day).
• Portable, battery-powered radio or television, and extra batteries.
• Flashlight and extra batteries.
• First aid kit and manual.
• Sanitation and hygiene items (hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, and toilet paper).
• Matches in waterproof container.
• Extra clothing and blankets.
• Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils.
• Photocopies and originals of identification and credit cards (keep ALL immigration documents in Ziplock bags to keep them from water damage.)
• Cash and coins.
• Special needs items such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solution, and hearing aid batteries.
• Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
• Tools, pet supplies, a map of the local area, and other items to meet your unique family needs.
Written by Cory Owen, Senior International Advisor