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PORT NECHES, Texas – It’s hurricane season again, and those living in “hurricane territory” are paying close attention to their weather forecasts. Texans take the threat of hurricanes seriously. The third deadliest hurricane to hit the western hemisphere in recorded history struck Galveston, Texas on Sept. 8, 1900, killing approximately 8,000 persons, or one out of every six residents. Advances in meteorology and communication have since lowered U.S. hurricane death tolls, but their destructiveness is still staggering. For example, in 1995 Hurricane Opal struck Florida and Alabama causing nine deaths and $3 billion in damages. In 1996, Hurricane Fran ravaged North Carolina leaving 37 dead and damages of $5 billion. And in 1999, Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc from the Bahamas to the New England coastline killing 75 and causing $6 billion in damages. How should you prepare when a hurricane is headed your way? To help this community answer that question, Neches Federal Credit Union (NFCU) sponsored a recent seminar entitled Hurricane Season Is Here…Are You Ready? The credit union welcomed community members with refreshments and door prizes, such as weather band radios and first aid kits. Attendees were urged to plan ahead with presentations entitled “Financial Preparedness” by Andrea Johnson, NFCU president, “Where To Go When A Storm Is Coming” by Ken Doise, Port Neches Fire Chief, and “How To Heed The Warnings When A Storm Is Coming” by James Brown, local television meteorologist. Speakers gave the following tips: * take evacuation warnings seriously and follow directions so that evacuations will be expeditious. * take important papers including most recent credit union statement, birth certificates, vehicle titles, house deed, insurance policies, copies of past tax returns. * take contact names and numbers for employers, insurance agent and utility companies. * formulate a family disaster plan. Choose an out-of-state friend as the designated “check-in contact” should family members get separated. * assemble a disaster kit including a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day), non-perishable food, blankets, medications and first aid kit. “We had very positive responses from those who attended,” said Scarlett Garsea, NFCU marketing director. “We received some superb information. I’m in the process of getting my own personal papers ready at home.” Garsea said this type of public relations effort is a perfect match for credit unions. “Credit unions miss the boat if they don’t reach out to their communities in this way. Other financial institutions just don’t do this kind of thing,” she said. “It puts our name out there and says, `We’re here. We are a resource for things other than just finances.’ This has also helped us get associated with leaders in the community.” Garsea said the credit union has held similar seminars in the past. The next time a hurricane threatens the Texas coast, many Port Neches families will be better prepared as a result of their credit union. -

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