With an active hurricane season in full swing and the ever-present threat of natural and man-made disasters in the Houston-area, a local citizen’s group is getting some financial help. The Harris County Citizen Corps trains local residents how to respond to disasters, a volunteer back-up to traditional first responders.
Harris County has one of the most active Citizen Corps chapters in Texas and boasts 72 Citizens Emergency Response Teams, with a total of more than a thousand trained members. Those efforts will be enhanced with a $100,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation, money to be used to double the Citizen Corps ranks in the Houston area. Allstate President Tom Wilson says the cash should help citizens become proactive instead of reactive.
Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the Citizen Corp and CERT are valuable community resources during times of need. “Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can strike quickly and without warning. All citizens should have the necessary information and training so that they can protect themselves, their families, and the community at large,” he says.
Houston Fire Chief Phil Boriskie says with limited resources, it’s good to have a community back-up like teams of trained citizens who can respond to emergencies in their homes or neighborhoods. “When you look at just the resources that any city has, it’s limited, especially when you have a disaster of any proportion. To have the community trained, ready, taking care of business, taking care of their neighbors and their families, a tremendous asset, a tremendous help to this community,” he says.
The new grant from Allstate will be used to provide equipment for local CERT teams and enhance public awareness.