While Coastal Bend residents sheltered at home during the pandemic, they saw storm after storm growing in the Gulf. Some of those became hurricanes with several barely missing San Patricio County.
“You know, 2020 has been the year we want to forget,” Portland Fire Chief Jeff Morris said. “We wish we can just hit the redo button or the pause button on 2020. If COVID wasn’t enough, which is plenty believe me, there was also a presidential election – which I won’t even go there.
“And then we had a hurricane season that set records.”
Morris reiterated that hurricane season lasts from June 1 through December 30 and this year saw 30 named storms and 31 tropical systems. This year tied 2005 as far as the number of storms, but that year saw 31 named storms. He said this year nearly broke the record for number of storms but the last tropical depression didn’t get a name.
He also said that during phone calls with the National Weather Service, they only predicted about 25 storms this year at most.
“Hurricanes are devastating,” Morris added. “Anyone that’s been through one knows that. I’ve been through several hurricanes in my lifetime and in my professional career and they can be very devastating.
“But you can prepare. You’re given warnings, given indications of what you should do and you know what’s coming.
“We can prepare our community and we can make our community resilient and can keep from having a loss of life.”
Morris talked about one of the most common things people say after riding out a hurricane, ‘I will never do that again.’ He added that the most common reason people stay behind in the first place is they think it’s not going to be that bad or it’s no big deal.
In 2005, there were 15 major hurricanes compared to this year’s 13. This year’s hurricanes caused more than $41 billion in damages with numbers still coming in. Some places on the coast like Lake Charles in Louisiana got hit twice which caused $2 to $2.5 billion in damages alone.
“Hurricane Hanna, which hit the Coastal Bend in our area south of us, didn’t even make the list because they’re still counting,” Morris said. “But it’s in the upper $20 millions. So it is quite amazing what hurricanes can do.”
“There’s no such thing as a sudden hurricane,” Morris said. “Unfortunately 400 lives are lost with the 30 storms we had this year so that sends a message about preparedness and preparation.”