Texas city's emergency evacuation gains recognition for planning and continuity of operations
| 01.19.2007 | 07:30:16 | Views: 3349 | ID:
January 19 '07: In the late summer of 2005 as Hurricane Rita bore down on the Gulf Coast region, city emergency management planners in Galveston, under the direction of Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas worked out an emergency evacuation plan that proved so effective, all 60,000 residents and 3,200 disabled citizens were evacuated from the island community safely before the storm hit.
Thomas' efforts were recognized this week during a summit of community leaders organized by the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness when the mayor was awarded a Best Practices Award. NCORP Chairman Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia during the 9/11 terrorist attacks said of the plan, "If you are prepared for a hurricane, you are, practically, prepared for terrorist event."The plan relied on the citizen response teams "who identify the elderly, mentally ill, those without vehicles or owners of unreliable vehicles, the homeless and others who may need bus transportation off the island," the Houston Chronicle reported according the Galveston Co-Chair of the Citizen Response Teams Stan Blazyk. Under the plan, the city hands over control of its operations to the mayor 100 hours before the storm hits. At 72 hours before, telephone messages go out to the community and a voluntary evacuation is called. By 48 hours, the evacuation is mandatory. 24 hours before the storm hits, all city officials remaining in the city retreat to three pre-designated shelters. And to help continuity of operations, the city has a 90-day emergency disaster fund "so it can operate after a disaster," the Chronicle reported.
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