KP George


Scores of people huddled in schools, water pouring into homes and the chaos and uncertainty of unprecedented weather – those that lived through Hurricane Harvey striking the region in 2017 and flooding more than 7,000 homes in Fort Bend County won’t soon forget the memories of five years ago.

That experience is part of what drove County Judge KP George, then a member of the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees, to run for county government, he told the Fort Bend Star last week.

And as residents across the region took a moment late last month to recognize Harvey’s five-year anniversary, George was sure that the county is in a better place today, he said.

“We are much better coordinated today,” he said. “Obviously, an emergency is an emergency. But we have the systems in place to make sure everyone is informed and can make the right decision. My job is to provide information and try to save and protect human life, citizens’ property and valuables.”

Hurricane Harvey struck the region in late August 2017, dropping more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of the Houston area and flooding about 7,000 homes in Fort Bend County.

Staffers with the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management in 2017 estimated about 20 percent of the county was inundated with floodwater, more than 200,000 residents affected and that emergency personnel made more than 9,900 rescues during the storm, according to a report at the time.

When George thinks back to that time, he said he remembers a general lack of information or shelter for residents who found themselves without shelter on short notice.

“There were a lot of residents who were born elsewhere and didn’t know where to go or how to manage a disaster like that,” he said. “And shelter hadn’t been set up in many places.”

Fort Bend ISD administrators quickly set up two shelters at Marshall and Kempner high schools to house 600 people in each, George said.

And it was while watching the people gathered at those emergency shelters that George decided to run for county judge, he said.

Fast-forward five years later, and George points to the efforts the county made to better communication between municipalities, organizations and law enforcement agencies as well as money put toward flood mitigation projects and a new emergency management office as evidence that Fort Bend County is in a better place, he said.

County leaders earlier this year unveiled a new, $10 million, 24,000-square-foot emergency operations center that will provide resources and serve as a command center during disasters.

The facility replaces an old building that operated in a 70-year-old jail, George said.

“The previous (emergency management) facility was falling apart, and we could not go through another disaster in that facility,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said at the time. “So, this was a decision that the commissioner’s court had to make for the safety of our constituents. It was not functional for what we needed as a public safety facility for our constituents.”

County leaders have also ramped up planning for potential disasters in recent years, George said. For instance, the county has a draft plan on what to do during potential disasters, so staff is ready ahead of time, he said.

And another ongoing project, a $120 million event venue called EpiCenter, will double as an emergency shelter once finished, George said.

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