Harris County Conducts Hurricane Exercise

Houston's Transtar is the site of a statewide hurricane exercise coordinated by the governor's division of emergency management. The annual event is one of the nation's largest events to prepare a region for a hurricane Pat Hernandez has the story.
It attracted representatives from more than 50-Harris County departments as well as emergncy managers, first responders, and representatives from transportation, industry, and community and faith-based organizations to test the regional readiness plans. Bob Royal, chief of emergency operations for the Harris County Fire Marshal's OfC says the state develops a plan complete with scenarios or injects and participants practice responding to those scenarios:

"72-120 hours before landfall, we start mobilizing resources and assets and prepositioning and going through our checklist, our plans to make sure that all the i's are dotted, all the t's are crossed in preparation for the hurricane crossing the coast. Once it crosses the coast, then we shift gears into a recovery mode so that we can respond to and put everyone's lives back together."

Jerry Martin with the Dallas Office of Emergency Management says his city is prepared to receive upwards of 6-thousand people with no reliable means of transportation:

"Probably the biggest challenge is finding enough capacity on the roadway system to get the people up there quickly. We realize we really need to have direct communications with the evacuating jurisdictions so that it's not a big surprise. We can have some informal conversations as conditions are escalating."

Seragent John Byrd says The Harris County Sheriff's Department has drawn praise for two vehicles he's responsible for, one that provides incident command for police and fire and the other for 911service for Harris and 13-surrounding counties:

"The resources and tools that are here, this piece of equipment to my knowledge, right now, there is not another like it anywhere in the United States. This acts as a conduit to make sure that all those lines of communications are uninterrupted? They're uninterrupted, they're still accessible to where we can work in conjunction with say, cell providers as portable cell towers come in. All your calls can be directed here because if you don't have commuications to do it, you can't get them there. We saw that in Louisiana."

Residents are urged to focus more on their hurricane plan than on the season forecast, which calls for seven Atlantic hurricanes, three of them major.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...