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Checking in on Emergency Management Preparedness

By Aurora Flores

Hurricane Harvey roared ashore in September 2017 with winds of 130 miles per hour, dropping more than 34 trillion gallons of water. More than 200 million cubic yards of debris spread out over hundreds of square miles. The massive displacement of people, and the intense and widespread damage to private property and public infrastructure is still an ongoing recovery process.

Hurricane Harvey and the lessons counties learned from responding to the disaster was the topic of discussion at the 2018 County Judge's Hurricane Workshop/Countywide Meeting held at White's Park in Hankamer on June 5. It was standing room only as host Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia welcomed representatives from Chambers County and surrounding counties to discuss what has worked in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and ways to improve before the next big storm.

Discussion centered on public health emergency preparedness, county projects and evacuation routes and a 911 update from Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne. A national weather service officer and Chambers County emergency management coordinator spoke about the 2018 hurricane predictions. Staffers from Sen. Brandon Creighton, Rep. Wayne Faircloth and Rep. Brian Babin's offices were present to give updates on how their offices are handling constituent needs.

The Chambers County fire marshal reviewed important carbon monoxide and generator safety tips and Texas Department of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd discussed planning for future storms and the importance of an emergency management director for the community. Keeping local decision making local and strong local partnerships were two of the main themes echoed that helped the larger community make it through the massive storm.

Since Harvey made landfall, county judges have been meeting to put together an Emergency Preparedness Checklist of steps needed from the state of Texas in order to move forward into the 2018 hurricane season. The next County Judge's Hurricane Workshop/Countywide Meeting is scheduled for Oct. 18 in Beaumont from noon to 2 p.m. For more information on this topic, please contact at 800-456-5974.​​​