The Houston metro area is still picking up the pieces after a powerful derecho ripped through the region last Thursday. The storm, packing winds exceeding 100 mph, left a trail of destruction, claiming at least seven lives and plunging over a million residents into darkness. High-rise buildings across downtown Houston suffered extensive damage, with windows blown out on every floor in some cases. Transmission towers were toppled, causing widespread power outages that left hundreds of thousands scrambling for relief during the sweltering Texas summer.

The National Weather Service confirmed the event as a derecho, a long-lived windstorm that can cause widespread damage over hundreds of miles. While an EF-1 tornado was confirmed near Cypress, the brunt of the damage resulted from ferocious straight-line winds exceeding 90 mph in some areas. Recovery efforts are well underway, with utility crews working tirelessly to restore power. However, many residents still face the daunting task of cleaning up debris and repairing damaged property.

In the wake of this disaster, it’s crucial to remember the importance of storm preparedness. Here are some safety tips to keep you and your family safe during severe weather events:

  • Develop a Family Emergency Plan: Discuss potential hazards and evacuation routes with your family. Ensure everyone knows where to go and how to contact each other if separated.
  • Assemble an Emergency Kit: Stockpile non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and essential medications. Consider including items for sanitation and comfort as well.
  • Stay Informed: Monitor weather reports closely and heed all warnings issued by local authorities. Sign up for emergency alerts to receive timely updates.
  • Secure Your Property: Bring in outdoor furniture and decorations that could become projectiles in high winds. Board up windows if necessary.
  • Take Shelter During Storms: If a tornado warning is issued, seek shelter immediately in a designated storm cellar or interior room on the lowest level. Avoid windows and doors.

By following these simple steps, you can significantly increase your preparedness for future storms. Let’s work together to build a more resilient storm preparation.