Five Years Later, Lessons Learned From Hurricane Ike

Five years ago Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston. It was the most expensive hurricane in Texas history and killed nearly one hundred people statewide. Two of the emergency management officials who were in charge at that time were on Houston Matters to reflect on lessons learned from Ike.

Hurricane Ike brought all the worst aspects of a major storm with it.

First there was the 17-foot storm surge engulfing Galveston Island.

Then came the 110 mile per hour winds that tore down trees and power lines.

Finally, the downpours that brought more than 20 inches of rainfall over a two-day period, flooding streets and homes.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is the head of Homeland Security for the county.He says the biggest lesson he learned was the need for a second team of emergency responders.

"Because you have people who have been working four and five days, waiting for the storm and preparing for the storm, and then once it hits they're exhausted. And then you have the whole deployment of the relief effort. You need a new team, some fresh people to take care of that matter. So we've got that in place now."

In Galveston County, David Popoff is the Emergency Management Coordinator.

He says Ike was a lesson in the need for more mitigation like the proposed Ike Dike that would control the flow of water into  Galveston Bay.

"Forty percent of the national fuel stock is produced right here in the Galveston and Houston area. One hundred percent of the military fuel stock is produced here. So why wouldn't we protect those assets and build a dike to prevent the Galveston Bay from rising from a storm."

Both men say that government planning is only part of the solution. They say area residents also need to prepare and assume that another big storm is on the horizon.

 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...