Harris County holds hurricane exercise

August 8, 2012 2:52:50 PM PDT
There's no hurricane heading our way, but just in case one does Harris County officials want to be ready. And today they were focused on a fake one, Hurricane Alexis.

The timing for this exercise had been scheduled in advance of Ernesto, which is headed to the Mexican mainland but could have taken a turn to the north and meant we'd be worrying about a storm today. But for Harris County, this breather is another chance to learn how to better recover next time a hurricane passes over us.

Forty-seven months ago, life changed on this part of the Texas coast, summed up in one word: Ike. Homes were destroyed, lives were lost and since the Harris County metro area pulled itself out from beneath the debris, there has been the ongoing question of how to do this differently. This was one of those times.

"You can make the best plans in the world, but something's going to go wrong, and you can practice and practice and that's what this is today, practice," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

Reliant Center was the staging area for the disaster exercise. The story line was that two emergency operation centers lost power. This was Plan C; Reliant Center also a distribution staging area.

Volunteers and employees worked as if it were the real thing, as if it were the day after Ike. The intention of this training is that it will make the unexpected easier to overcome in an emergency, making disaster easier to confront as we've had to do before. But it's also a reminder, the county judge says, to the rest of us.

"We say it over and over and over every time you see a storm in the Gulf, you see a run on the stores; and we're saying, we're preparing, we're assuming a storm's coming, you need to do the same thing," said Judge Emmett.

The disaster exercise will continue Thursday at Reliant Center.

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