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Tropical storm Bill in Texas: How to prepare (+video)

Tropical storm Bill is forecast bring rain, floods, and strong winds in Texas, the National Weather Service warns. 

For the Lone Star State, the hits just keep on coming.

Two weeks after logging its wettest May since 1929, Texas is facing a torrential downpour from tropical storm Bill, set to make landfall just southwest of Houston on Tuesday.

The storm, which as of 11 a.m. CDT had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, promises another round of flooding for the already drenched state. Rainfall totals through Thursday are expected to average 2 to 8 inches across southeastern Texas, according to the National Weather Service.

Local officials have expressed concern over flash floods: “Already wet grounds mean that even a moderate amount of rain will likely cause street flooding. Bayous and rivers could go out of banks quickly, creating a serious threat to life and property.”

But though the forecasts for this storm look grim, you can always prepare for nasty weather ahead of time:

Stock up on essential supplies.

Food, water, and first aid should top any list of must-haves during a storm. The American Red Cross recommends having at least three days’ worth of water on hand, with enough for about a gallon per person per day. Food should be non-perishable and easy to prepare, even in the event of a power outage. And in addition to a first aid kit, have sanitation and personal hygiene items ready, as well as a week’s supply of any required medication. Don’t forget to check expiration dates!

Have extras of everything else.

Clothes, rain gear, blankets, cash, and batteries for flashlights, cell phones, and other electronics: These are almost as critical as food and water in the event of a big storm.

Prep your home.

Unless local authorities issue an evacuation order, your home is your sanctuary during a storm or hurricane. Close all doors, windows, and hurricane shutters beforehand. For those without hurricane shutters, board up doors and windows with plywood for protection against wind-borne debris. (The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes provides a how-to here.)

Unplug small appliances and turn off any propane tanks to reduce the risk of fires in the home, and turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting so that food will last longer if the power goes out.

Create a family emergency plan.

Your family emergency plan is often the most neglected part of disaster preparedness, say experts, but it is crucial before a big hurricane. “Families can cope with disasters by preparing in advance and working together as a team,” notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Teach your kids how to behave inside the house during a storm: Stay away from windows to avoid broken glass and other debris, and stay indoors until authorities announce that the storm is officially over.

The CDC also suggests knowing the best routes out of your home and your neighborhood, and talking with your family in advance about what to bring, where to go, and how to get in touch with one another in case you’re apart during a disaster. Choose a friend or relative to be your out-of-state contact and inform him or her of your plans and actions.

Be informed, and stay informed.

The old adage about knowledge and power is especially relevant in an emergency. Pay attention to different types of storm alerts: A “watch” means conditions are right for hazardous weather, while a “warning” refers to imminent danger in the area.

Use more than one source for updates. Weather sites and social media are great for up-to-the-minute information – as long as Internet is available. Once the Wi-Fi conks out, radio is your best bet: NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards broadcasts continuous weather updates from the nearest National Weather Service station. Here's a list of its frequencies nationwide.

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