Harris County Prepares for Hurricane Season 2010

Harris County is getting ready for the 2010 hurricane season, which officially begins in about four weeks. Today, the county Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with several local, state, and federal partner agencies, began a three-day exercise to make sure everyone knows exactly what to do if a catastrophic storm comes ashore. Officials are taking the lessons they learned from Hurricane Ike to focus on some weak spots that could use improvement, as David Pitman reports.

One of the lessons from the September 2008 storm is that officials need to improve the recovery process.  Francisco Sanchez is with the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.   He says storm rehearsals have traditionally focused on the 120 hours before landfall, and not so much on what needs to be done after a storm blows through.

"To restore power.  To allow for re-entry.  And those sorts of issues we're gonna practice.  We've made some improvements with those since Hurricane Ike.  So we're gonna see how those pan out, and get feedback from our partners to see if there are opportunities for improvement, and put those in place."

There is one new piece of advice officials want people to keep in mind as they make their own preparations.   Sanchez says those who want to evacuate not because of flood concerns, but because they expect to lose power, should plan to ride out the storm.

Hurricane Prep Center"Then, if they lose power, and they really need to leave, then do a secondary evacuation after the storm.  It'll be smoother.  They'll know what happened to their property, and have a better understanding with what will be going on with their own circumstance to make a better decision."

Some parts of Houston were without power for as long as two weeks after Hurricane Ike, which complicated the recovery process.   Sanchez says local officials have already consulted with their state and federal counterparts to figure out the best locations to set up relief supply points, based on where a storm might hit.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...