More than 2,300 Texas citizens participated in the statewide hurricane evacuation and sheltering exercise conducted June 4-8 by the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management (GDEM). For the third year, TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) designed, developed and delivered the exercise for GDEM, and employed 174 TEEXans as observer/controllers around the state.
The 2007 hurricane exercise, dubbed HUREX 2007, focused on evacuation and sheltering of special-needs citizens, including those without transportation as well as those with health care needs. Counties and cities in all five Hurricane Evacuation Areas along the Texas coast participated in the exercise.
The lower coast from Brownsville to Corpus Christi responded to an approaching Category V hurricane during an eight-hour exercise on Tuesday, and the following day, the upper coast from Houston to Orange responded to the same scenario. The exercise incorporated lessons learned and issues identified during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, such as evacuating, transporting and sheltering special-needs citizens and evacuating and housing companion animals.
Along with the evacuation of coastal jurisdictions, shelter hubs were exercised in San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Tyler, Longview and Texarkana. The functional exercise included several full-scale components, where evacuation hubs and reception centers were set up and volunteers acted as special-needs evacuees.
The preparedness exercise took six months to plan and involved county and city jurisdictions, state agencies, Councils of Governments, federal agencies, public health entities, the Department of Public Safety, Disaster District Committees, voluntary organizations and more, said Jim Sachtleben, NERRTC program manager. In preparation for the exercise, orientation meetings, workshops and tabletop exercises were conducted throughout the state in the months leading up to the exercise, he added.