We all breathed a sigh of relief when we knew Hurricane Ida would miss the Texas coastline. But our friends in Louisiana were not so fortunate.

On Aug. 29, Ida hit south Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph. It left behind massive destruction and was devastating to the property and lives in its path. Many areas are still suffering from its blow. It was the sixth named storm to make landfall in the 2021 hurricane season.

But folks, just because we are past Labor Day, hurricane season is not over. That is evident this week by the wind and rain we experienced from Hurricane Nicholas.

TxDOT was ready for Hurricane Ida and Hurricane Nicholas because storm preparation can’t wait until the last minute. I saw a photo on The Lufkin Daily News website this week of a gentleman preparing for Nicholas by filling several containers with gas. That’s a plan.

There were haters on social media downplaying his actions and accusing the newspaper of trying to create drama. We might not see hurricane-force winds here this week, but I believe the man was right and wise to prepare.

Hurricane Ida downed more than 22,000 power poles in its path with powerful winds. Many small towns and remote areas are still accessible only by air boats built to navigate swamps and marshes. Many people still have no supply of food, clean water, gasoline or mode of travel.

And despite many warnings, there were still those who did not prepare and more who refused to evacuate and some who even lost their lives.

The work our neighbors in Louisiana have ahead of them is extensive. Curfews are still in effect. Roads are impassable or washed away and crews continue to work around the clock to restore infrastructure.

TxDOT crews have responded to help in the clean-up process and Lufkin District crews remain on standby to help when needed.

We are familiar with storms like Ida and the damage they leave behind. None of us can forget the devastation from hurricanes in recent years.

The mere mention of names like Harvey, Katrina, Rita or Ike stir memories in southeast Texas and Louisiana that would rather be forgotten. But in every one of those storms, TxDOT was ready because we had a plan.

You can also prepare for the unexpected. You can find all the information you need for how to make a plan in the event of severe weather on the TxDOT website at txdot.gov/driver/weather/hurricane.html. You will find maps highlighted with evacuation routes and other useful information that will help keep you and your family safe.

Just because Texas was spared from Ida’s wrath doesn’t mean we will be as lucky with the next one. And there is always a next one.

Prepare your home, your family and yourself with a plan to survive a catastrophic event like a hurricane or tropical storm. Because waiting or refusing to prepare could cost you as much as it did those who ignored the most important plan they could ever make — one that could keep them safe.

Rhonda Oaks is the public information officer for TxDOT’s Lufkin district. Her email address is Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov.