When it comes to evacuations during a hurricane, Carlos Johnson said the price of fuel could affect the issue.

“This is going to scare the hell out of me,” he said on Tuesday as he refueled at a store in Port Arthur. “If I have to evacuate, I don’t know where I’m going.”

Rising fuel prices, food prices, and housing affordability are what the City is estimating at the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts will be above average.

“At this stage, I have spoken to others about it,” Mayor Barty said. “(We) look at rising gasoline prices, look at the need to evacuate due to dangers. We can only ask citizens to be frugal with their personal finances right now.”

Barty asked residents to try and save money if needed at some point this season.

As of Tuesday, the state’s average fuel price was $4.69, according to the AAA. At the same time last year, the average was $2.76.

In addition, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said in March that the cost of food rose 10 percent in 12 months.

But when it comes to evacuation, accommodation also becomes a factor.

Hotels in places like Dallas, San Antonio and Austin often contract with the state to house evacuees brought in by city bus, Barty said.

On June 7, he and other department heads met to discuss emergency preparedness.

“Probably in the end more people will get out, park cars and drive away on what the state will provide,” he said of transport provided locally for those who need help. “This is the best solution for families if they do not have the opportunity to leave. If you take the buses provided by the government, they will take you to the shelter.”

For Fire Chief Greg Benson, the goal is to provide city officials with multiple options.

“There should never be just one plan,” he said. “You need Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. If you only have one plan and those resources are not available, what do you do?”

The fire department is taking into account that the cost of fuel, food and housing could result in fewer evacuations, which could increase the number of rescues during a flood.

“We have small boats at all of our stations,” he said. “We need to make sure that if we have to turn these boats around, how do we do it to get people out of their homes to safety?”

In 2017, Harvey received over 60 inches of rain in southeast Texas. Up to 85 percent of Port Arthur’s structures were damaged, according to the Associated Press. And only about 20 percent of homeowners are insured against flooding.

“Part of that is to convey to the public that when information is shared up until action is taken, they need to trust and feel that the information is accurate in order for them to take action,” Benson said.

He and Port Arthur Deputy Police Chief Jeremy Houston, who is the city’s emergency management coordinator, discussed things like ordering enough prepared meals (MREs) for emergency responders and splitting those costs between fire and police departments.

Mass bailouts will be at the center of many discussions, he said.

Barty said the last time the city conducted a storm evacuation, it involved about 1,500 people. Now they are considering as many as 5000 or more.

According to the NOAA forecast, this is the seventh consecutive storm season that is considered above average. Up to 21 named storms are predicted, with three to six major hurricanes.

“If I call and it happens, if they decide to go through with it… it will be between you and God,” he said. “You can make your own choice, I just hope God is with them when they do.”

For Carlos Johnson, it all comes down to the size of the storm.

“It all depends on what The Weather Channel says,” he said as he continued pouring fuel into his car. “I can stay, I can not stay. It depends on which category (storm) it belongs to.”

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