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Time to prepare as Tropical Storm Karen heads for Gulf Coast

The wannabe meteorologist in me finally gets a chance to issue a warning in this unusually mild Atlantic Hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Karen is heading to the U.S. Gulf Coast!

National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center radar image of Tropical Storm Karen (10-4-2013)

OK, she's not a big or particularly powerful storm. But Karen is expected to be a rainmaker; we in drought-stricken Texas understand this is water that falls from the sky and can sometimes fill up creeks and ponds and spill over into streets and homes.

And as we all know, weather conditions can change quickly.

So be prepared.

Storm warnings mean storm preparation: The first areas of concern are those locations where the National Weather Service has issued alerts. They are:

  • Hurricane watches in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Destin, Fla.
  • Tropical storm watches for metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Maurepas, as well as along the Gulf Coast from west of Grand Isle to Morgan City, La., and from Destin to Indian Pass, Fla.
  • Tropical storm warnings are posted from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River at the Louisiana-Mississippi border.

If you're in these areas, secure your property and keep an eye on the news for further developments and possible evacuation orders.

Financial prep, too: Don't forget your financial, including tax, preparations.

Have a credit card handy that has a large enough credit balance to cover a stay for a while in a motel if you have to leave your home and friends and family aren't available to provide temporary accommodations.

Have some cash on hand. Your temporary relocation site might not be near a fee-free ATM and if power is disrupted, retailers won't be able to process credit or debit transactions.

Gather your insurance documents, preferably in a waterproof container that you can grab if you have to leave your home. This includes insurance information for both your home and your auto, as well as medical material. Make sure you have your insurance card in case, God forbid, you need treatment during the storm. Don't forget your prescriptions. In fact, get them refilled now so you don't have to worry about that if you're in a storm-struck area.

Round up financial documents, such as bank statements, credit card bills and an inventory of your home, both the items inside and your surrounding property.

Tax records should be a part of your financial disaster go-kit. If you do have to file claims for disaster damage, this data will help.

Here's hoping you don't have to put your pre- or post-disaster plans in effect for Tropical Storm Karen or any storm, but just in case, be ready.

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