Emergency preparedness hearing in McAllen

The House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness hosted a hearing in McAllen Monday to discuss what the Valley experienced in past years, and what lessons were learned.

"We are prepared for whatever hurricanes or natural disasters come our way this year," said Tony Pena, Hidalgo County's Emergency Coordinator.

Pena tells Action 4 News they prepare for natural disasters year round through training and coordinating.

George Garrett, Donna and Weslaco Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the time is now for families to begin formulating an evacuation plan.

"Should we be faced with a category 3 or greater storm or even a category 2 as we saw with Dolly, people need to be prepared to evacuate and need to have a personal evacuation plan to include where they plan to go and a communications plan with their family," said Garrett.

If a hurricane hits, people can expect to be without electiricity for a minimal 3 days to 3 to 6 weeks.

"The number one lesson that we all learned from our past hurricane experiences was a lack of electricity," said Pena. "People can expect that the electricity will go out during a hurricane."

Another concern brought up during the hearing is the fear of being stopped at federal checkpoints during evacuation.

The committee said they are addressing that issue.

The committee said they will be in Houston in July for another hearing on emergency preparedness.