Hurricane Lili minor annoyance at most to Huntsville

Hurricane Lili may not pose as great of a threat to Huntsville as previously anticipated. “As of this point, she is expected to hit somewhere in the Cameron/ Lake Charles area of Louisiana, which is 100 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border,” said Jim Woods, Huntsville’s Safety and Emergency Risk manager.Previously this week, there was concern that Lili would hit the Texas Gulf Coast and possibly affect Huntsville with heavy winds and flooding. “We’re in pretty good shape right now,” Woods said. “We are waiting to make sure she stays on schedule and veers off to the east. It’s less drastic than we previously anticipated.”Lili gained strength Monday in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds reaching up to 80 miles an hour. Eight people in Jamaica and on St. Vincent’s Island were killed because of the severe conditions brought about by Lili. She strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane Tuesday, which means she had winds averaging 96 to 110 miles per hour and could cause slight wind damages to materials such as glass, roofing, doors and vegetation.As of Wednesday, Lili gained enough speed and force to be classified as a Category 3 hurricane. A category 3 hurricane has wind speeds of 113 to 133 miles per hour, does structural damage to homes and damages or destroys vegetation.Woods said that emergency management in Huntsville still has a close eye on Lili, despite the reduced threat. “We held a meeting (Wednesday) morning with the sheriff’s department, the power companies, American Red Cross and various others,” said Woods. “We have an emergency evacuation plan, with natural and man-made power.”Woods also said that Lili’s greatest effects on Huntsville would be showers and rain at the end of the week. If Lili did pose a more serious threat to Huntsville, the greatest worry for residents would be flooding.”The concern would mostly be floods, tornadoes and severe weather,” said Woods. “Down on the coast is where there is the most concern. They have emergency shelter set up. What we would be concerned with (at the Risk Management office) is evacuating people who are moving up north.”In case of flooding, the National Weather Service recommends staying out of areas of high water, such as flooded streets, and avoiding driving as much as possible. Precautions should be taken in the case of a tornado include sheltering yourself in a basement or room on the lowest level of a house or building, wrapping yourself in blanket or other cloth to avoid flying debris, staying away from windows and glass doors and crouching down with your hands above your head.Lili would be the seventh hurricane to strike Texas in the October and November months since 1837. The last October hurricane Texas endured was Hurricane Jerry, which killed three people in southeast Texas and destroyed Texas Highway 87 between High Island and Sabine Pass in 1989. For emergency information concerning Sam Houston State University, the school’s emergency message hotline is 294-1826.

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