September 14, 2007
Mario Gallegos' Very, Very Good Idea

Senator Mario Gallegos has a great idea to require all new schools built in Texas to meet strict building codes that would allow them to serve as temporary shelters during a hurricane. Florida has laws in place for this. He intends to introduce legislation to this effect in the 2008 session.

Is this idea too late for the HISD bond package?

After the Humberto "clusterstorm" - with a tropical depression turning into a Category 1 hurricane overnight - there sure seems to be a need for nearby local shelters that everyone can get to quickly.

The Houston Chronicle has more.

Posted by Martha Griffin on September 14, 2007 to The great state of Texas

What a great idea.
Now prove someone will actually inspect the construction.

Have you ever seen the schools in the PSJA, Donna, Weslaco and Edinburg districts?

How those got inspected and accepted for occupation is a mystery.

Up to code? Yeah, right.
Hurricane-proof? No way. No. Way. On. Earth.

Posted by: The_Other_Sarah on September 14, 2007 2:51 PM

Just come thoughts rolling around in my head here, some of them possibly incorrect but here goes.

So that the community can afford it, this would have to be a very gradual changeover and not the driver of bond elections because any emergency management funds would be applied to the change in cost, not the entire facility. New facilities in growing areas would be so constructed whereas facilities in older parts of town would still be clamoring for their share of safety. Once the community understood the sheltering function of the schools, they couldn't possibly hold the entire population of taxpayers who built it and who would have a right to shelter. It would have to be only a part of the arsenal of tools available to emergency management.

Once the policy is implemented, even those schools not yet up to design wind loads would have to accept citizens knocking down the locked doors looking for safety in buildings more susceptible to collapse, and most likely in the old neighborhoods whose attendance has not justified upgrading the structures.

Again, these are just thoughts that might need to be considered if they haven't already.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on September 14, 2007 4:25 PM