NORTH SHORE – Bill Wheeler, assistant director of the county Emergency Management office, spoke to Rotary about the 20 types of emergencies his office deals with in a year. OEM has about 20 employees, he said, and they are responsible for safety in 34 cities, 1200 MUD and PUD districts, 54 fire departments, and ultimately the lives of over 4 million people in Harris County.
The most recent disaster in the North Shore area was the tropical storm Allison, in June 2001 when 14 inches of rain fell in 3 hours in the Greens Bayou watershed. The resultant floods killed 23 people, and damaged 34,000 homes.
Other notable disasters included the hurricanes of 1900 in Galveston, 1983 Alicia in Houston, 2005 Katrina and Rita, and 2008 Ike.
His message to survive these disasters was simple:
1. Get a Kit, with supplies from home, cash, and first aid.
2. Make a Plan, with an evacuation goal and communication with family.
3. Stay informed — radio, TV — plan on no electricity.
4. Be involved, help others and your loved ones to survive. Volunteer, join CERT classes, and similar training.
If you know someone that will need evacuation assistance, have them register by calling the Red Cross at 2-1-1.
Check for more information and ideas on the website
www.readyharris.org. You should also know how to read an evacuation map, and prepare yourself to leave in only 10 minutes if necessary.
A good motto to remember, he said, is “Run from the Water, Hide from the Wind.”