The message is clear as the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway Saturday, June 1st. "The time to prepare is right now," Humberto Barrera, the emergency manager for Cameron County said. That's why Action 4 News and SafeGuard Insurance Agency teamed up for a hurricane preparedness hotline at the Action 4 studio during Action 4 News at 5 and 6. Emergency management officials from across the Rio Grande Valley answered calls from viewers dealing with the importance of a plan of action. They say it should always include a way to evacuate should a storm hit. "If you're healthy enough to evacuate in the event that we need to evacuate, evacuate!" Barrera said. "There's no need to stay around and become part of the problem if we get hit with a hurricane." Oscar Montoya, emergency manager for Hidalgo County, added how people who choose to stay behind put others at risk. "The less time we're out spending on something that could have been taken care of by them before the storm is more time we can spend getting roads cleared and doing things that we need to be doing," Montoya said. A new medical ambulance bus is stationed in the Valley. It is one of only 13 in the state. Frank Torres, emergency manager for Willacy County, showed off the $750,000 addition and shared how it will help. "We can move 18 patients laying down, 24 sitting up or any combination thereof," he explained. "Every time a bus load of patients leaves a facility, it's replacing 9 ambulances that we don't have to use." Jovonne Delgado used sign language to reach out to the estimated 10,000 people who live in the Valley and are hearing impaired. She talked about the importance for people to register with the 2-1-1 Registry System to get help. "We need to make sure they're registered, non-profit organizations need to get involved," she said. "We need to make sure that our deaf are also taken to the shelters. Friends, families, neighbors please help them out." Personal property should be documented to help with any insurance claims resulting from storm damages. SafeGuard Insurance representatives explained why a policy needs to be purchased before a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico. "Once it's there, it's too late," Eddie with SafeGuard said. With a new hurricane season here, experts say the time to act is now.
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