April 18, 2006
More dissention over hurricane plan

Last month, Governor Perry issued an executive order that mandated (among other things) the creation of an "incident commander" to oversee evacuation issues in each of the state's 24 regions that have councils of governments. Today, on the deadline for implementing that order, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), which is the council for this region, is set to defy that part of the order.

Former Kemah Mayor Bill King, who participated in the negotiations to select a local commander, acknowledged "big splits" over whether a single person should be named to oversee the entire region. Some local officials - the sprawling region includes major metro areas and small towns, coastal and inland communities - were reluctant to transfer any authority to one person, King said.


Elected officials in Harris and 12 surrounding counties, known as the Houston-Galveston Area Council, have instead chosen to elect a 15-person committee to determine how to handle such responses.

"It's probably impossible to find one person qualified to deal with every kind of event," said Jack Steele, executive director of the H-GAC.

The 13 county judges within the region, along with the mayors of Houston and Galveston, are expected to each nominate a member of the "command council." It's possible this council could then choose to name an executive committee or single member to coordinate responses, but the latter is unlikely.

Harris County Judge Robert Eckels agreed with Steele, saying the greater Houston region is too large and faces too wide an array of disaster scenarios - from a hurricane to terrorist attack in the Houston Ship Channel - for a single commander to possess the qualifications to lead every conceivable response.

"An incident commander, by its nature, is specific to a particular incident," he said.


[S]ome local officials favored adoption of a protocol similar to the National Incident Management System, or NIMS, established by the federal government after the Sept. 11 attacks. It's a flexible plan for local officials to coordinate responses with the federal government after a disaster.

Dennis Storemski, Houston's top emergency management official, said a majority of local jurisdictions favored a NIMS-like approach, in which an ad-hoc leadership group would be named once a disaster occurs.

King, however, said such an approach ignores the fact that, unlike most natural disasters and terrorist attacks, hurricanes are somewhat predictable. Not only can they typically be forecast a few days in advance, but, unlike a bombing in the Ship Channel, planners can be fairly certain a hurricane will happen at some point.

For that reason, he said, there should be a permanent, defined command structure to continually plan and prepare for hurricanes.

"The whole idea of NIMS is to be prepared for any kind of disaster," King said. "But you don't have that problem with a hurricane. You know what you're going to be getting."

I think there's merit to both approaches, and frankly I'm not sure why the differences can't be worked out. Have a command council for the broad range of possible incidents, and have a single person or subcommittee in place for hurricanes. Mayor King is certainly right in saying that we know for sure those are coming, and we'll know in advance when we have one to worry about.

Now the ball is in Governor Perry's court. What does he think about what H-GAC has done?

Perry spokeswoman Rachael Novier said the governor would withhold judgment of regional plans until they were formalized, but added that he expects his order to be followed.

"We have confidence that local leaders will implement the governor's executive order and adopt a regional unified command structure that protects lives and property in a catastrophic event," Novier said.

Any idea what Perry's options are to enforce his order if he thinks that the H-GAC solution is not in compliance?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2006 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

Put them on incentive pay and decry the lack of quality education protection provided by these committees and demand a special session on it?

Posted by: sabestian on April 18, 2006 10:41 AM

Hurricanes used to hit the Texas coast at a rate of once every nine years.

Now with our Deadly Stupid Global-Warming-Denying Republican Leaders (Haters of Evidence in Science and Haters of Evidence in Elections) the Gulf is 4 degrees hotter than normal. And now we have June temperatures in April.

And we have passed the tipping point of 400 ppm to 425 ppm of CO2 and Methane.

Times up.

We do this right, right now. No Bullshit.

Add to the predictablity of more and bigger Hurricanes, is the predictability of Heatwaves. Plan for that. In France, it was determined that the great deathrate of 30,000 was due to the nighttime temperature being over 85 degrees. People can take a lot of heat, unless they are sick or old, but they have to cool off. More than 85 degrees at night, does not allow a body to recover enough to withstand hotter daytime temperatures.

And, on any of these plans, if you are not consulting James Lee Witt and Admiral James Loy, you are not even trying.


JAMES LEE WITT, National Co-Chair
Former Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Chief Executive Officer, International Code Council

ADMIRAL JAMES M. LOY, National Co-Chair
Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)

Their mission is to raise awareness, educate the public and policymakers, and offer solutions that will better prepare and protect America from major catastrophe in a sensible, cost-effective fashion.


We will need the best advice and policies.

Everyone double check everyone's selections to make sure real experts, REAL EXPERTS are put in charge of our lives. No cronies.

And, people will need to check on the sick, elderly and poor. Where are the plans for them and their pets.


And, Anyone and Everyone Ask Bush with his awful Greater-Extinction-Level Job Performance to Step Down before Hurricane Season. He fooled us last Hurricane Season.

Fool Us Once, Shame On...Shame On You. Fool Us Again, Shame On...Shame On...The point is...We Won't Be Fooled Again.

And, we should make non-science Republicans take notice of global warming by naming hurricanes after them. Or, if that does not work ASAP, also ask them to Step Down With Bush, so that REAL EXPERTS can be put in charge of the fates of our families in potential life and death situations. And, so that real problem solving to try to reverse global warming can begin.

You already know Bush is a bad leader, because despite all the evidence around us, he still chooses to do nothing about Global Warming. No problems solving capacity, just PR or rather PM, Perception Management. Perception Management does not work to mitigate Hurricanes nor Global Warming.

Times Up.


Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on April 18, 2006 3:40 PM