Emergency Management is responsible for coordinating the City of Houston s preparation for and response to emergency situations.

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1 CITY OF HOUSTON Office of Emergency Management October 2004 Emergency Management is responsible for coordinating the City of Houston s preparation for and response to emergency situations. Houston is exposed to many hazards, which have the potential for disrupting the community, causing damage and creating casualties. Natural hazards include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and severe storms. As a major petrochemical manufacturing and distribution center, Houston also faces the threat of hazardous material accidents involving the transportation, manufacture and storage of chemicals on the highways and in the city's industrial areas.

2 EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN To address these potential threats, the Office of Emergency Management publishes the City's Emergency Management Plan. This plan provides the framework upon which the City of Houston prepares for, responds to and performs its emergency response functions during times of natural or man-made disasters or national emergencies. The plan is based on the four phases of Emergency Management which are: Mitigation - Those activities which eliminate or reduce the probability of disaster. Preparedness - Those activities which governments, organizations and individuals develop to save lives and minimize damage. Response - Those actions to minimize loss of life and property damage and provide emergency assistance. Recovery - Those short and long-term activities which restore city operations and help return the community to a normal state. When the City of Houston faces an emergency and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated, the OEM works with appropriate city departments as well as various county, state, and federal agencies to respond effectively and quickly provide for the continuity of services to the public. In addition, should it become necessary to establish a command post at the site of a major incident, the City will deploy a specially equipped vehicle known as the Field Emergency Operations Center (FEOC). This specialized vehicle has been designed to be an extension of the EOC. It is a stateof-the-art mobile command post equipped with radio equipment, computers, telephones, video systems, and other specialized equipment to assist in the management of a major incident.

3 Since severe weather emergencies could be caused by tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, floods, extreme cold and ice, and extreme heat, we monitor the Houston area radar on a continual basis. The OEM can communicate with local amateur radio operators throughout the areas as part of the Regional Skywarn Network, as well as Emergency Management Centers in adjacent counties. The OEM works with the Houston-Galveston Office of the National Weather Service, monitor regional and national weather information for its potential impact on the city. This is particularly true during the hurricane season (June - November) when we also monitor Atlantic and Caribbean weather/storm activity. In partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation we utilizing the camera equipment and message signs located along the city's freeway system for monitor severe weather and also the coordination an orderly evacuation should the city be threatened by a potential major hurricane? The OEM also provides public education and training. We are available to conduct emergency preparedness presentations to businesses, civic groups, churches, etc. To request a presentation for your organization please visit their website at They plan and hold training exercises with city departments and outside agencies. They advise the public through the media, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and the City s Municipal Channel about the severity of the emergency and the response and recovery under way. As the Hurricane Season hopefully comes to an end (November 30 th ), and the fall season starts, we have to prepare for severe weather. Severe thunderstorms can bring heavy rains (which can cause flash flooding), strong winds, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. WHAT IS A THUNDERSTORM? A thunderstorm is a storm containing lightning caused by unstable atmospheric conditions. When cold upper air sinks and warm, moist air rises, storm clouds or "thunderheads" develop. Thunderstorms may occur singly, in clusters, or in lines. Thus, it is possible for several thunderstorms to affect one location in the course of a few hours. Some of the most severe weather occurs when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended period of time. To protect yourself in a severe thunderstorm, get inside a sturdy building and stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for weather information.

4 HOW DO FLOODS OCCUR? The two key elements to flooding are rainfall intensity and duration. Intensity is the rate of rainfall. Duration is how long the rain lasts. Rivers, bayous, and streams may overflow their channels and banks. Streets and areas which are normally dry may be submerged. Flooding can be brief or last for an extended period of time. Rivers and streams can flood areas downstream where there may not have been any particularly heavy rainfall. Storms may continue to develop and travel across the same area repeatedly, causing localized flooding. A single slow moving storm cell may produce very local street flooding in a short period of time, when other areas only a few miles away have no rain at all! Avoid flooded streets.turn Around Don t Drown. KNOW YOUR AREA'S FLOOD RISK... Contact your insurance agent, or visit this website to view Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Harris County. Click on view maps, then after the disclaimer, ("I agree", or "I don't agree") choose "Harris County". The base maps will appear. Click on the box nearest to your property to view the data. SAFETY ISSUES... Two feet of water on the roadway where water is flowing rapidly will carry away most automobiles and small trucks. Do not drive into water covered roadways. The roadway may be gone or failed due to erosion. Debris and other objects may be submerged in the water as well. : Do not travel at night during heavy rainfall or reported flooding in your area. Monitor LOCAL radio and television broadcasts for the latest information and advisories. Understand Flash Flood Watch and Warning terms. Flash Flood Watch: Flooding is Possible Flash Flood Warning: Flood is occurring or is imminent What to Do During and after a Tornado Tornadoes strike with little or no warning. When a tornado is sighted, go to your shelter immediately; stay away from windows, doors and outside walls: In a house or small building, go to basement or an interior room on lower level. In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center, go to pre-designated shelter area or interior halls on lowest level. In a high-rise building, go to small interior room or hallway on lowest floor possible. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture (a table or desk). Use your arms to protect head and neck.

5 In a mobile home, trailer or vehicle, get out immediately and go to a substantial structure. A ditch, ravine or culvert could be used if no structure is available. Do not attempt to out-drive a tornado. Be aware of broken glass and downed power lines. Check for injuries. Move seriously injured persons only if in immediate danger or life is threatened. Use caution entering a damaged building. Have access to a source of weather information and stay tuned! You cannot take action to protect yourself if you do not receive the watches, warnings, statements, and advisories. This can be as simple as your car radio, TV, a portable radio, or a weather radio. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts current local weather information, watches, warnings and forecasts 24 hours a day. In addition, some weather radios will sound an alarm - day or night - when warnings are issued. Most are equipped with a battery back-up to commercial power. The Houston Area broadcast can be monitored on MHz. Be sure your source of weather information can operate independently of outside power sources, as some weather events often temporarily interrupt commercial power distribution. WINTER WEATHER Houston is generally spared from dealing with severe winter weather. Occasionally, we are subject to freezing or below freezing temperatures. Being prepared is the best way to cope with winter weather conditions when they impact our area. Some of the conditions that the public may have to deal with are: Ice storms May cause a disruption of communications and electrical services, and contribute unsafe driving conditions. Bridges, overpasses and some highways may be closed due to icing. Below Freezing Temperatures Coupled with the wind chill factor (rate heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold) people should protect themselves by wearing sufficient clothing, including a cap and gloves when outside, to help retain body heat. Do not forget the 4Ps: protect exposed Pipe, People, Pets and Plants. Home Heating System Loss of lives and damage to houses caused by fire tends to increase during the winter due to the unsafe use or operating condition of home heating systems (especially space heaters). If possible, have your home heating system checked to be sure it is in proper working order prior to winter beginning. Installing smoke alarms in your house would be advisable. Personal Vehicle Do not forget to have your vehicle s antifreeze level checked.

6 In order for the City of Houston to capture all damages in the City, we need the public s assistance to identify all damages after an incident or a disaster. The OEM has a Damage Assessment form on our website to report any damages sustained to your home. Damage Report Form First Name: Last Name: Address: ZIP: Subdivision: Day Phone: Night Phone: To assist you in understanding and preparing for the potential threats in the Houston area call (713) during normal business hours or visit our website at HELPFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS City of Houston (713) Office of Emergency Management. (713) Telecommunications Device for Deaf (TDD). (713) Emergency Non-Emergency Mayor s Citizens Assistance Office... (713) Police Department.. (713) Fire Department.. (713) Harris County..... (713) HC Office of Emergency Management (713) Telecommunications Device for Deaf (TDD)... (713) Houston TranStar.. (713) American Red Cross. (713) Salvation Army (713)

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