City, county officials activate emergency response centers ahead of TS Bill

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The teams consist of many agencies, including Harris County Sheriff's Office, HPD, HFD, Red Cross and Houston's OEM (KTRK)

City and county officials say they are monitoring Tropical Storm Bill and its impact from their emergency operations centers.

Harris County activated its Office Emergency Management Sunday night; then on Monday, Houston officials activated the City's Emergency Operations Center, which consists of several agencies including the Houston Police Department, the Houston Fire Department, the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management, the City of Houston Public Works & Engineering Department and the Red Cross.

Both the city and county centers are operating at the high level, which is activated when dangerous conditions exist or there is an imminent threat to life and property.

Current threats to life and property include:

  • Failure to adequately shelter from high winds, threat of street and river flooding, and isolated tornadoes.

  • Areas along the coast could see possible localized storm surge of up to 2 ft, which may cause street flooding.

Potential impacts to property include:

  • Wind damage to porches, awnings, carports, and unanchored mobile homes. Some trees may be uprooted. Debris may make some roads impassable.

  • Moderate rainfall may prompt several rescues or evacuations. Underpasses, low-lying spots, and areas around creeks, canals, and small streams may become dangerous.

  • Isolated tornadoes can hinder the execution of emergency plans. Some places may experience tornado damage.

The City of Houston's Catastrophic Medical Operations Center (CMOC), which is co-located at the City of Houston EOC, also is active. Their role is to coordinate any potential resource or information needs that are required by the hospital community in a 25-county region.

Employees are arriving at the centers with pillows, sleeping bags and overnight bags. There are briefings every few hours in their big operations center upstairs, with folks watching the radar and bayous.
The big concern is flooding. Just three weeks ago, non-stop rainfall caused bayous to spill over, flooding several major roadways. Drivers were left stranded, and nine people were killed in the Memorial Day floods.

Officials caution people about driving in the storm. Below are some of the safety precautions they're suggesting:

  • Seek shelter from hazardous winds.

  • Avoid driving into high water.

  • Gather supplies to be able to comfortably be in your home for 3-5 days. This includes water, food, flashlights, and other necessities. Download a full list from the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide.

  • Remove outdoor items which may be picked up in heavy wind and securing them as appropriate

  • Make sure you have a way to stay informed in the event power goes out. This may include a NOAA Weather Radio, or a battery-powered radio or television.

  • Communicate with your family about what you will do in the event heavy rain separates you.

  • Communicate with your employer in the event heavy rain and flooding keeps you from being able to report to work over the next few days.

  • Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors to make sure they have what they need in the event this storm impacts Houston.
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