Cities, county preparing for the start of the 2014 hurricane season
By Betsy Dolan
The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be a mild one–just 11 named storms, including five hurricanes, two of them major.
But cities in Fort Bend County aren’t taking any chances.
At the end of the month, fictitious Hurricane Todd will hit Sugar Land giving the City and the Texas State Guard the chance for some last minute training before the hurricane season starts June 1.
Focus areas will include mass sheltering, evacuation and hazmat response. The exercise will result in a large presence of military personnel and equipment, as well as radio traffic simulating a disaster response.
The exercise will begin May 30 and will run through June 1.
The Texas State Guard will provide the necessary manpower to create a realistic shelter operation at Wheeler Fieldhouse in Mercer Stadium. Partners supporting the exercise include Fort Bend ISD, City of Stafford Emergency Management, Fort Bend County Red Cross and Brazos River Authority.
The purpose of the exercise is to provide participants with an opportunity to evaluate current response concepts, plans and capabilities. The exercise will focus on local emergency responder command and control coordination, critical decisions, notifications and integration of state and federal assets necessary to save lives and protect public health and safety.
Fort Bend County urges businesses to have disaster plan
Fort Bend County is urging businesses to have a disaster plan which includes ways to stay functional even in the wake of power outages, a reduction in work force and minor building damage.
“Disaster planning and preparedness can make the difference on whether or not a business continues to operate after a hurricane”, said Jeff Braun, Emergency Management Coordinator for Fort Bend County. “Recent studies indicate that roughly 50% of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.”
Braun advises business owners to:
• Make a plan to stay in business: You should assess how your company functions, both internally and externally, to determine which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep your business operating. Braun says that thinking about emergency payroll procedures; back up shippers to maintain distribution to customers; emergency supplies; telephone calling trees; and management succession plans might all be part of a good business emergency response plan.
• Provide for your employees: Make sure employees have a family preparedness plan and give employees time to take care of their families as the hurricane approaches. Braun also suggests reviewing the disaster plan with employees at least once a year.
• Protect your investment: Safeguard physical assets, including review of insurance coverage. Insurance will clearly be needed if buildings are destroyed or a business is not able to re-open in a timely manner. An annual visit with your insurance provider is recommended. “Each business owner should speak with service providers about alternatives, like emergency generators,” says Braun. “The investment in a portable generator may make a tremendous difference in getting a business back in operation as quickly as possible.
Fort Bend County business owners have the chance to learn more about how they can prepare for the 2014 Hurricane Season by tuning into a webinar sponsored by the Small Business Administration on Tuesday, May 27 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. The webinar will provide the long-range outlook for the upcoming hurricane season plus information on the best methods to prepare your business. The link to find out more information and to register is: www.preparemybusiness.org/education#
Missouri City wants safe buildings
In Missouri City, the city council proclaimed May as “Building Safety Month” and honored members of Development Service’s Permits and Inspections Team who address the critical issues of safety, energy efficiency and resilience that affect citizens both in every day life and in times of natural disaster.
“It encourages appropriate steps everyone can take to ensure that the places where we live, learn, work, worship and play are safe and sustainable,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said. “It encourages all Americans to raise awareness of the importance of building safe and resilient construction, fire prevention, disaster mitigation, backyard safety energy efficiency and new technologies in the construction industry.”
Missouri City has printed safety material available to residents who visit City Hall; a list of International Code Council safety tips is also available from their website at www.iccsafe.org/BSM.
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