As a small area of low pressure near Bermuda made headlines, Orange County commissioners in special session Monday proclaimed May 23-29 as National Hurricane Awareness Week.

“It (the Bermuda system) is just a testament that we’re approaching that time of year,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley. “Conditions are ripe for it.”

County officials conducted annual hurricane simulations earlier this month, working with model scenarios at the Emergency Operations Center.

National Hurricane Awareness Week is an effort by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA, and other federal, state and regional agencies.

Officially, the storm season begins June 1. Kelley said it’s a good idea for residents to start thinking about the weather.

He advised to monitor reports for threatening conditions, to keep cars filled with gas and heed evacuation orders, plan on traffic delays and for overnight stays out of town, have a plan for pets and livestock, check insurance coverage, move patio furniture, gas grills and hanging plants inside; and take measures to protect homes and property.

Emergency preparedness kits should include radio, flashlight, extra batteries, extra eye glasses, medications, copies of prescriptions, special products for babies and elderly family members, bottled water, nonperishable food, dry clothes, bedding and important documents including insurance policies in waterproof containers.

For more information, and links to other emergency Web sites, click on the Emergency Management section at; or call Orange County Emergency Management at 886-7895. 

Burn ban waits, still possible

Also Monday, commissioners voted to hold off one more week to call a possible burn ban.

Kelley said the county will likely move from dry to moderate drought conditions soon. The Texas Forest Service lists the county at 500-600 on the KBDI (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) and predicts conditions rising to the 600-700 rating. That’s only one listing away from the worst rating, 700-800.

Kelley added that with little rain in local forecasts, “The time is coming to … where we’ll have to keep [a ban] in place for an extended period of time.”
He also said the city of Vidor has lifted its ban and is again issuing permits to burn within city limits.

Speed limit change

Commissioners approved to set the speed limit on Benson Road at 15 mph, down from 30 mph. County engineer Les Anderson described the road as “narrow with a lot of turns on it.” Residents requested the limit through a petition, he said. Benson is off of West Bluff Road in the Little Cypress area.

Meeting time change

Next week’s commissioners’ court will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 1, as Monday is Memorial Day.