The Teacher Became the Student
When Ruben Solis was asked to participate in the National Hurricane Awareness Tour at McAllen Miller International Airport in Texas, he was excited to see the Hurricane Hunter aircraft used to track storms.
The Hurricane Hunter aircraft were on display as part of the National Weather Services’ (NWS) Hurricane Preparedness Week tour stop at McAllen, presented by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Ruben, a State Farm agent in La Joya, Texas, was invited to attend to answer general questions about insurance preparations.
“When I told my wife we were going to attend this wonderful event I told her that they were bringing the planes to it, too,” Ruben says. “She said ‘I don’t think I would ever dare fly a plane into a hurricane.’ I told her, they don’t fly into them, they fly over them.”
Ruben was half-right.
The NWS uses the WC-130J Hercules, a high-wing, medium-range aircraft as a weather data collection platform that flies into storms and hurricanes, where it collects and reports weather data as often as every minute. It also uses a Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) jet that flies around and over developing tropical cyclones to create a detailed picture of the surrounding upper atmosphere.
“So I get there and I asked one of the Hercules crew members how high above the storm does he fly,” Ruben says. “And he said we fly right into it. I had egg on my face. I didn’t know. Everybody has something they can learn.”
The purpose of the tour, presented in part by the FLASH.org, was to educate and raise awareness about the threat of hurricanes as the June 1 opening of the Atlantic Ocean Basin hurricane season nears. Hurricane preparedness includes more than just storm shutters, an evacuation plan and a survival kit.
“A home is more than just a major financial investment. It provides families with shelter from the dangers of severe weather,” Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson says. “Homeownership comes with many responsibilities, the most important of which is protecting the financial investment consumers have made in their homes.”
FLASH.org is promoting #HurricaneStrong, an initiative to promote wholesale preparation through education – which includes understanding storm danger, knowing evacuation routes, have a survival kit and ensuring you have adequate insurance to assist in financial recovery.
“State Farm agents at our stops on the tour are able to answer general questions from consumers and the media about mitigation steps before, during and after a natural disaster,” Leslie says. “We want to help ensure homes are as safe and strong as they can be, and that consumers better understand the role of insurance in protecting them and their belongings inside.”
Ruben has focused on educating consumers of the potential devastation of hurricanes and other storms.
“Hurricane Harvey was a big wake-up call for everybody,” says Ruben, whose community was spared the brunt of the storm last year. “So many people do not understand how insurance works. As State Farm agents, we have responsibility to help educate customers – even if they are not State Farm customers – on how serious the hurricane threat can be.”
And as Ruben learned when he attended the tour, even the experts have something to learn.