Mayor says past century storms provided valuable lessons for evacuation planning
| 01.19.2007 | 07:43:22 | Views: 2940 | ID:
January 19 '07: As Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas accepted a Best Practices Award given by the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness, the emotional mayor said her city's efforts to evacuate all citizens during Hurricane Rita in 2005 came after close examination of Galveston's history with past disasters, KHOU in Houston reported.
"We have a precedent in Galveston for what we did (in 2005)," Thomas said. "After the 1900 Storm, many citizens, including my grandfather, went to work volunteering to help take care of the city. With that history in mind, I knew as Rita was coming toward us that the city would come together and care for its citizens."At its heart, Thomas plan has become most effective because of the involvement of Citizen Response Teams, volunteer groups created by the mayor which act to motivate and evacuate their communities and neighborhoods during a disaster. NCORP Chairman James Gilmore said, "We must have private citizens involved. ... This is an opportunity to reawaken public virtue and encourage leadership." 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 Houston Chronicle reported.
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