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Whether it is an emergency that impacts an individual or a community wide disaster, being prepared is the key to minimizing the effects and speeding the recovery process.  The Office of Emergency Management wants you to be aware of the hazards that threaten our community and provide you with the knowledge to respond appropriately when disaster is imminent. 

The City of Amarillo, Potter County, and Randall County participate in an interjurisdictional emergency management program to ensure the readiness of our community to respond to all hazards that exist in the Texas Panhandle.  However, individual and family preparedness is a critical element of any emergency management program… the best community plan will be minimized if the individual or family is not prepared.

 

National Preparedness Month & Texas Preparedness Month – Week 4

September is National Preparedness Month and Texas Preparedness Month.  Make sure to develop a disaster supply kit, create a family communications plan, and make sure your home is prepared!

Week 4: – Power Outages

Power outages are a common occurrence during disasters, but are not limited to emergency events. Times of peak high energy demands, such as grueling hot summer months, can lead to rolling outages and black outs. Learn more below about the steps you can take to help conserve energy and stay safe when outages occur.

Power Outage Safety Tips

Even with conservation efforts, power outages are still possible during emergency events. Ready.gov recommends the following steps to prepare for a power outage:

  • Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there’s room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
  • Keep your car tank at least half-full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
  • Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a power outage or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics in use when the power went out.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
  • Listen to local radio and to a battery- or generator-powered television for updated information.
  • Leave on one light so that you’ll know when your power returns.
  • Use the phone for emergencies only. Listen to a portable radio for the latest information.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for information—call only to report a life-threatening emergency. Use the phone for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage.

Go to www.ready.gov/september and oem.amarillo.gov to learn more!

Posted in: General.

National Preparedness Month & Texas Preparedness Month – Week 3

September is National Preparedness Month and Texas Preparedness Month.  Make sure to develop a disaster supply kit, create a family communications plan, and make sure your home is prepared!

Week 3: – Tornadoes

A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide & 50 miles long. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. The Amarillo area is on the western edge of “tornado alley”, so tornadoes are very much a threat to our community.

Things to do before a tornado occurs:

Designate an area in your home to act as a shelter. A basement or storm cellar is safest location, otherwise the most interior room on the ground floor is the best option. Put as many walls between you & the outside of your house as you can. A closet, bathroom, or pantry is usually a good option.

  • If away from home, look for a designated shelter area in places like schools & shopping centers.
  • Stay away from doors, windows, & glass.
  • The Amarillo / Potter / Randall Office of Emergency Management maintains 90 outdoor warning sirens. If you hear the sirens sound, go indoors & turn on your TV or radio to find out what is occurring. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE. 
  • If you are in a vehicle & unable to get home or to a designated shelter location, Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on & cover your head with your arms & a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities & injuries.

Go to www.ready.gov/september and oem.amarillo.gov to learn more!

Posted in: General.

National Preparedness Month & Texas Preparedness Month – Week 2

September is National Preparedness Month and Texas Preparedness Month.  Make sure to develop a disaster supply kit, create a family communications plan, and make sure your home is prepared!

Week 2: Wildfires – Each year wildfires can pose a significant threat for Texas communities. High winds and dry conditions can set the stage for potentially severe fires. In the past 10 years, wildfires burned over 9.3 million acres statewide.

Human activity accounts for 90% of all Texas wildfires. Learn more below about how you and your family can help prevent Texas wildfires.

Protect your home

Increase fire protection for your house and safety for your family by following some key guidelines before dry weather and high winds bring the threat of wildfires to your area.

  • Choose fire resistant materials and protective roofing. Stone, brick and metal provide more protection than wood.
  • Cover all vents coming out of attics and eaves with metal mesh screens. Mesh size should be no larger than six millimeters or ¼ inch to stop debris from collecting in the vents. This also helps keep sparks out.
  • Install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters to protect large windows from radiant heat.
  • Have chimneys, wood stoves and home heating systems inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.

Evacuations

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Choose a route away from the fire hazard and be alert to changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.

Be ready to “Grab and Go!”

Wildfires can rapidly threaten homes and residential areas. Always be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Keep a portable emergency supplies kit and “grab and go” box, with copies of important documents and files, somewhere easily accessible. Items should be stored in a durable, sealed box, preferably one that is waterproof and fireproof. If evacuation is necessary make sure to take your kit and “grab and go” box.

 

Go to www.ready.gov/september and oem.amarillo.gov to learn more!

Posted in: General.

National Preparedness Month & Texas Preparedness Month – Week 1

preparathon

September is National Preparedness Month and Texas Preparedness Month. Make sure to develop a disaster supply kit, create a family communications plan, and make sure your home is prepared!

Week 1: Flood Safety – Flash flooding is the number one weather-related killer in Texas. More than 50 percent of all flash flood fatalities nationwide involve vehicles. Saving your life can be as easy as turning your car around when you see water on the road. Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways – Turn Around Don’t Drown (TADD)!

 Remember:

  • It takes only two feet of water to float a 3,000-pound car.
  • In rainy weather, be alert and stay tuned to local radio or TV.
  • If you are in a low-lying area when flooding is occurring, get to higher ground quickly.
  • Do not attempt to cross-flooded roads or streams on foot. It can take as little as six inches of water to knock an adult off his or her feet. 
  • Never allow children to play near ditches and storm drains.
  • During stormy weather, do not camp or park vehicles along streams or washes.
  • Flooded roads are especially dangerous at night. Saving your life – and preserving your vehicle – can be as simple as choosing a different route when you see water across a roadway.

 Go to www.ready.gov/september and oem.amarillo.gov to learn more!

Posted in: General.

Areal Flood Warning & Flash Flood Watch

Current Watches and Warnings: An Areal Flood Warning and Flash Flood Watch remains in effect until 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  Playa lake flooding is occurring and will worsen with additional rainfall.

Flooding impacts from the overnight rain impacts:

  • Playa 7 (Greenways) is beyond capacity, flooding 77th and continuing to impact properties in the area.
  • McDonald Lake (45th & Coulter) is beyond capacity with flood waters reaching the 100-year flood mark.
  • Lawrence Lake (I-40 & Western Plaza) is beyond capacity, flooding Western Plaza Dr. and Olsen.
  • Diamond Horseshoe playa (I-27 & Bell) is beyond capacity with minor flood impacts on Meadowgreen Dr.
  • McCarty playa (58th & Georgia) is beyond capacity, flooding portions of south Georgia St. and into the Catalpa development.
  • Willow Grove (48th & Washington) is at capacity with impacts on Pagoda Dr.

 Use caution when driving around these areas and avoid any standing water on roadways.

NWS Amarillo Weather Summary: NWS Amarillo forecast is for additional rainfall this afternoon and again this evening.  Scattered thunderstorms are expected to develop in the near term that potentially will track over the City this afternoon (3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. initiation of storms).  A favorable area of development is in place across western Potter & Randall Counties, so lead time on storms will be minimal.

This evening between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. forecast models are indicating a storm complex will move through the region out of southeast Colorado/northeast New Mexico.  It is anticipated that this will be a large scale line of storms will impact a majority of the Panhandle, including Amarillo.  In addition to the flood threat, this line may produce a wide area of 60+ mph winds.

Rainfall totals will vary depending on where the storms track as they move through the area.  1” to 2” accumulations are likely with 4” plus accumulations possible.  The flooding threat remains a serious hazard to our community.  Be prepared to take actions if flood waters threaten your homes.  Do not drive into flood waters or go around barricades.  Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

Posted in: Alerts.

Local Flood Preparedness

The Texas Panhandle has experienced record rain fall totals through the first half of 2015.  While the rain has brought much needed relief from the historic drought, it has also overwhelmed area playa lakes.  Within the City of Amarillo, the playa lakes play an important role in flood management with pumps located at some of the 63 playa lakes within the City to assist with controlling lake levels.

The recent record rains have inundated the local playa lakes causing flooding issues at some area playa lakes.  When additional rain occurs, this issue increases the hazard of street flooding.  It is important that if you encounter a flooded roadway, Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

Posted in: General.

Extremely Critical Fire Weather Today

Potter and Randall counties are under a burn ban.  The National Weather Service Amarillo has issued a Red Flag Warning from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. today.  Conditions today are extremely critical; please use extreme caution with outdoor activities, avoiding activities that promote open flames or sparks.  Any ignition will result in rapid fire spread… be alert for information from emergency management and first responders.

Posted in: Alerts.

Severe Weather Awareness Week

March 1-7, 2015 – Severe Weather Awareness Week

Spring marks the time of year when severe storms increase in frequency bringing devastating hazardous weather such as tornadoes, lightning, large hail, damaging winds, and flash floods to the Texas Panhandle. This is also a time when outdoor activities increase, placing residents at an even greater risk.

Weather in the form of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flash floods can strike very quickly. Once a tornado approaches or flash flooding develops, it is too late to start working on a preparedness plan! When severe weather develops and warnings are issued, you must take immediate action to protect yourself.

Take time now to be prepared for severe weather. A few simple steps, such as having a disaster supply kit, obtaining a NOAA Weather Radio, and creating a Family Emergency dPlan could save your life.

Visit the Weather-Ready Nation website for more information on severe weather preparedness.

Posted in: General.

Do 1 Thing in February

Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supply kit. During the month of February, take action to store three days worth of water for your household.

FEMA’s “Do 1 Thing” offers the following list of ways to achieve this goal:

  • Purchase and store a 72-hour supply of commercially bottled water;
  • Bottle a 72-hour supply of water at home; or
  • Learn how to provide a safe supply of drinking water for your household in a disaster.

By completing one of these actions, you’ll be better prepared for the unexpected.

Posted in: General.

Winter Weather Warning

Amarillo, TX – The National Weather Service office in Amarillo has issued a Winter Storm Warning until 6 p.m. Thursday. Snow storm impacts have already begun in the northwest Texas Panhandle with winter weather expected to move into the Amarillo area later this afternoon.

Timing: Light rain through around 5 p.m., converting to snow. Heaviest snow is expected between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. with snow ending by 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Accumulations: The Amarillo/Canyon area is expected to receive 7” to 9” of snow with up to 12-plus” in the western Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.

Posted in: Alerts.