Counties Test Their Hurricane Emergency Preparedness - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Counties Test Their Hurricane Emergency Preparedness

It's now hurricane season And drills were held across the state, Wednesday, to make sure we learn the hard lessons from hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Both Smith and Gregg counties held full-scale drills.

Even though it was just a drill there were some tense moments for emergency crews trying to help volunteers-turned-evacuees.

"It will actually help them see what areas they actually do need to focus on," says volunteer Terry Hollowell.

She pretended to be a homeless woman who needed her medication.

"There are people out there like that... this helps them see what it would, what it is actually like for somebody who is on medication who has had to be evacuated from there normal surroundings," she adds.

The "evacuees" were transported by bus from Liberty County, outside of Houston, to a reception center, where they are checked in and given medical attention. They are then assigned a shelter.

"Once they get assigned to a shelter, make sure they get out in an orderly fashion," says an officer over a walkie-talkie.

Everything is communicated back to the EOC, where all decisions are made. The Emergency Operations Center or EOC, is considered the hub in any emergency situation. Crews have been working there throughout the day communicating back and forth. It's where Wednesday's drill began and it's where it will end.

"If you don't practice, you don't perform in the real time," says Longview Fire Chief Kenny Southwell.

And in this case, emergency crews are hoping their practice will make perfect.

"Taking what has happened in the past as far as Katrina and Rita and looking it and it evaluating it and deciding what the state of Texas can do differently in order to make that a more manageable process when it happens again," says Anne Brooks, the Executive Director for Red Cross East Texas Piney Woods Chapter.

Next, the entire county will sit down and decide what they did right and what they could have done better.

The state of Texas has paired each northern county with a coastal county. Gregg's "sister county" is Liberty County, near Houston.

Tracy Watler/Reporting:

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