The annual hurricane season started June 1, and this year’s season is different than the rest, just like last year was different than the year before.  In fact, every hurricane is unpredictable.

As everyone knows, Hurricane Harvey brought a national record-high amount of rainfall to the Houston area. The floods took lives and property, making Harvey the second-most expensive U.S. storm in terms of cost and damage.

I hope no storm comes our way this year. But if one does, it is highly unlikely that it will behave like Harvey. If it brings heavy downpours, the rain probably won’t fall in the same places as last year. A different storm could also bring stronger winds and less rain. Remember, Harvey lost hurricane strength as it inundated our area.

Regardless, we are wiser and better prepared for bad weather in the 2018 storm season because of our experiences with Harvey.

Our experiences will, I hope, cause everyone this year to monitor weather news, pay attention to reliable sources of information and plan for dealing with whatever a hurricane may bring, knowing that it probably won’t be a Harvey re-run.

Make a plan for staying in touch with friends, relatives and neighbors, and for obeying evacuation orders if they are issued. Store up on hurricane supplies now – batteries to operate flashlights and radios if a storm knocks out electrical power; canned and packaged foods and bottled water if the usual access to those basics is interrupted. Be ready to protect pets, too.

You can get much more information, including a free disaster preparedness guide, at

We re-learned from Harvey that residents of the Houston area are quick to help each other in an emergency. It’s important to remember the next time around that we must go through a storm as a community, in which people rely on each other. We must also pay special attention to seniors, the infirm and less the fortunate among us when the chips are down.

The city demonstrated during Harvey that we know how to quickly and effectively activate shelters in coordination with non-profit groups.

City first responders rescued more than 6,000 during last year’s floods. Since then we have acquired even more rescue boats and other life-saving equipment.

We have also launched an Adopt-A-Drain program that asks residents to volunteer to keep nearby storm drains free of debris and other obstructions. I urge you to sign up at and have fun picking a name for “your” drain.

Since Harvey, bayou widening projects such as Brays Bayou in southwest Houston have resumed. The projects protect homes and other buildings by moving a larger amount of rainwater into Galveston Bay.

We can’t control how Mother Nature will treat Houston this hurricane season. But overall, with your help we are stronger, more resilient and more alert for the weather future.

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