As Ike headed our way back in 2008, four staffers from the New York City Office of Emergency Management traveled to Houston to see first-hand how emergency planners here handled the storm. Francisco Sanchez is with the Harris County Office of Emergency Management and says New York City is likely using some of those lessons learned right now.
“They wanted to come down and be part of a planning process that involved a hurricane and some of the lessons that they learned here during Hurricane Ike being a part of our time, they’ve taken back and revised some of their hurricane planning. Obviously some of that is taking place now. They’ve put some of those in place for Irene and certainly now for Sandy, so it’s a great working relationship that we have with the New York City Office of Emergency Management. They learn from us and we learn from them and in the end we’re better able to provide services to both our communities.”
Sanchez says Harris County Emergency Planners have been in phone contact with New York City planners and those in several other cities along the East Coast. He says the sheer magnitude of a storm like Sandy would present some unique problems here.
“Some of the resources you would normally count on to come in and help wouldn’t be there, because we would count on our neighboring states. We would count on our neighboring communities. So, when you have a storm this big that’s going to have those kinds of impacts on your neighbors as well, even the ones that are a good distance off, it certainly is a good exercise of making sure you’ve got plans that are redundant, plans that are nowhere near an impact zone.”
He says Harris County planners are watching Sandy’s progress closely and learning everything they can about how to handle a storm like that in the future.