Three years after Hurricane Harvey devastated our region, we once again braced for a week of uncertainty, as two separate storms in the Gulf of Mexico put us on high notice.
As we shifted our focus from Marco to Laura, at times, early forecasts put the greater Houston area in the storm’s cone or direct path. We monitored and prepared for the worst-case scenario and encouraged Harris County residents to do the same by following the latest updates from local authorities, making sure their disaster kit is stocked, and signing up for emergency alerts. Days before landfall, we staged our fleet of high-water rescue vehicles and watercraft throughout the region so that we’d be poised to act when called upon. Our Homeless Outreach Teams offered transportation to shelters and supplies as they visited encampments.
We haven’t forgotten Hurricane Harvey’s lessons. Since Harvey’s historic landfall, our agency has devoted more staff and resources to high-water equipment and swift water rescue training to better ensure the safety of our communities:
- Our fleet of high-water trucks and Humvees has increased from 13 to 28.
- Our fleet of air boats, flat-bottom boats, and inflatable boats increased from 3 to 13.
- More than 40 deputies completed an intense, two-day swift water rescue training course. That number will soon approach 90, now that Harris County Commissioners Court has authorized additional training.
- Our 911 call takers and dispatchers are in a new, elevated emergency call center that is designed to operate during and immediately following storms. It has three backup generators – one of which has enough fuel capacity to run the building at full power for 6 days – and can sustain wind speeds up to 155 mph.
As Laura neared the shore and moved inland, certainty and confidence grew in a landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border, sparing the Houston-Galveston region from its worst effects. However, the situation looked increasingly dire for our neighbors to the east of us as forecasters predicted Laura would become a Category 4 storm and bring life-threatening storm surge.
For us in Houston, the storm veering toward the Louisiana border meant bracing for primarily wind impacts felt throughout our community and potential prolonged power outages. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
We are reminded this is the most active period of hurricane season, and it is important to have emergency plans in place and supplies ready as weather forecasts can change quickly. Stay informed and be ready before a storm hits.
Missing in Harris County Day | August 29
Texas Center for the Missing, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston Police Department, and other partners are hosting Missing in Harris County Day tomorrow from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., to help those with missing loved ones navigate the missing person system and connect with other missing person families for support.
- The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department will be taking reports for missing persons.
- Representatives from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) will be entering missing persons information into national databases.
- Families will be encouraged to schedule a time to submit familial DNA samples used for identification.
- A private missing person family support group gathering will be hosted virtually at 12:30 p.m. to provide a safe space to discuss these difficult cases. Contact Texas Center for the Missing at 713.599.0235 or email@example.com to confirm your attendance at the private support group meeting.
For more information on Missing in Harris County Day, visit this website. Join the social conversation using the hashtag #MissingInHC.
While many things may seem out of our control when it comes to COVID-19, let’s continue to work together, remain positive and build on what’s working for our communities – staying informed on the development of the virus and practicing daily precautions to protect ourselves and our neighbors.
God bless you, and may God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.