Gulf Coast Officials Prep For 2013 Hurricane Season

Hurricane season begins tomorrow and lasts through the end of November. Meteorologists are predicting an active year. Officials at TranStar — the emergency operations center in Harris County — will be paying close attention to activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials from the Texas Gulf Coast have been conducting hurricane drills, designed to test evacuation and recovery plans.
In an interview with KUHF’s Craig Cohen on Houston Matters, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said preparing 
for a hurricane is a way of life for six months out of the year.
“Make sure you have a plan. Make sure you have kits both to stay where you are, or to evacuate if you have to and  for those kits have all the necessities in them and stay informed. They really need to pay attention to local media, because hurricanes can come up in the Gulf in fairly short order.”
He says coordination is a year-round effort. County judges across Texas are in charge of emergency efforts. Texas lawmakers designated that after the 9-11 attacks.
“So my office is responsible for emergency management and hurricanes fall clearly under that. With 34 municipalities in Harris County, with the surrounding counties like Galveston and Chambers and Brazoria, we all have to work together. So, I view my role more as yes, I’ve got this title, but I have to make sure that all the pieces are working.”
Judge Emmett says every storm is a learning experience, the last one being Ike in 2008.
Mark Sloan oversees the day-to-day operations of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“Each and every year, it’s an ongoing process. We’re reviewing all our plans. We’re exercising those plans. There’s a lot of new people coming in. There’s also a lot of new people that are in our field of business, in terms of new first responders and emergency management personnel, and it’s an education process to go over each and every year. Just because we have a plan, doesn’t mean we leave on the shelf to collect dust. We have to practice it, and make sure that our partners in the region understand that we all work together to be successful.”
He says residents can help emergency officials by being prepared as well.
“So it’s important that we keep our cars filled up during hurricane season, because we know that fuel will be in short supply. That we have enough water to take care of our pets and our family, just one gallon of water per person per day. You can do the math in you own household, and make sure you have the resources that you need.”
Sloan adds one good way to learn how to be ready for the season is to attend the free hurricane workshop tomorrow from 10 a.m-3 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center.