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Lessons Learned From Ike

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the county learned from Hurricane Ike and will be better prepared for the next big storm. Emmett was responding to a final report issued by an independent firm specializing in disasters. Bill Stamps has more.



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Judge Ed Emmett has nothing but praise for county workers for their hard work during the entire Hurricane Ike ordeal. While the county already had an emergency plan in place, Emmett says no one could have predicted that 93-percent of the power grid would be knocked out. Emmett says the biggest lesson he learned is to divide all planning strategies into two categories: pre-storm and after-storm.

“The transition from dealing with the hurricane itself to the aftermath, clearly could have been smoother. Part of the reason is everyone’s tired. The same team that was out here night-after-night-after-night, dealing and preparing for the storm, suddenly had to turn around and say ‘OK now the storms over. How do we provide relief supplies and those types of things?’ ”

With that in mind Emmett would like to see disaster workers broken up into teams.

“I think it’s going to be very important that we set up a second team if you will. I don’t mean a second team in a lower category, but a carry on team. Somebody that will pick up the struggle at that point. Let some of these folks get home and get some rest and move forward with the recovery. And of course, a lot of that will have to do with pods and other thing.”

The 27 page report was prepared by Beck Disaster Recovery, a nationally recognized planning and disaster recovery firm. The report talks about everything from pod centers to how some conference calls lasted too long. Judge Emmit says some of the recommendations are already being implemented.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.