The end of the week and higher temperatures could not come soon enough. We endured a massive winter storm and power outage crisis in the midst of a pandemic. Most everyone suffered through prolonged stretches without power or running water. Many are now scrambling to repair busted pipes and the damage they caused to their homes and businesses.
For many, it’s been days living in this dire situation. This goes for our county’s first responders, emergency managers, and essential personnel who leave their homes and families to tackle unprecedented challenges to our region and infrastructure: travel, power, and water.
We are incredibly proud of our Sheriff’s Office teammates and the Harris County maintenance professionals who always get the job done in the toughest of conditions. We appreciate their dedication to serve others and all that they do.
Our teammates adjusted their schedules to ensure around the clock coverage. Several filled in for their colleagues who encountered road closures and treacherous road conditions. Others embraced loved ones into their homes who were in need of warmth or a hot shower and meal.
The Harris County Jail encountered water pressure issues and power outages, just like we all did at our own homes. One of our most important duties is overseeing the state’s largest jail. Our jail support staff’s commitment to their job leads them to work so diligently and selflessly.
We’re grateful for those working on the front lines inside the county jail who are ensuring we meet state standards and maintain the safety and well-being of everyone there – including detention officers, medical personnel, jail support staff, and those entrusted in our custody.
Public safety is our North Star.
As overpasses, bridges, and roadways are covered in ice and traffic signals remain out around the county, our patrol deputies and traffic investigators are working in these extreme conditions – reporting and blocking dangerous roadways, ramps, and freeway lanes; leading traffic safety and enforcement efforts and investigating crashes; performing proactive, high visibility patrol efforts; and working collaboratively with area agencies on a wide range of public safety efforts.
Our Homeless Outreach Teams are canvassing our communities to help those without housing stay warm and safe with blankets, jackets, and transportation to emergency warming centers. This proactive, 24/7 support for our most vulnerable neighbors has saved lives and demonstrates our promise to our mission.
Since Sunday, our dispatchers fielded calls for nearly 190 icy roadways, 370 minor accidents, 75 major accidents, 80 stranded motorists, and one fatal auto-pedestrian crash.
On Monday and Tuesday alone, our call takers fielded 17,422 calls to 911 and our non-emergency line, matching Hurricane Harvey’s historic call volume level. This is more than triple the normal volume and largely driven by people reporting weather-related power outages and busted water pipes. As a reminder, 911 is for life threatening emergencies only.
Our Emergency Dispatch Center call takers are usually the first point of contact when a Harris County resident requires immediate assistance from law enforcement, medical, or fire personnel. They determine a caller’s needs and route the emergency call to the appropriate dispatcher. During these trying times, we’re especially grateful for their service.
Thanks to all who heeded the call to stay home and keep the roads clear for emergency personnel and road crews. We’re thankful that more lives weren’t lost on our roadways.
Because their community needs them, our Sheriff’s Office employees consistently report for duty, pivot when needed, and rise to the occasion every shift despite the challenges. Because their community needs them, our neighbors consistently show up for each other, lending a helping hand to those in need.
The critical issues across our region and state due to the extreme winter weather remain, but so does our resilience and commitment to each other.
Our hearts go out to each of you. We pray everyone keeps warm and safe. We’re in this together.