Harvey evacuation. Sally Geiss

Houston Updating Hazard Mitigation, Emergency Plans

The City of Houston’s Office of Emergency Management is updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan and Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Hazard mitigation is about lessening the severity of future disasters. Emergency Management is about responding to disasters after they happen.

Hazard Mitigation Plan Still Needs Input

Public meetings for the Hazard Mitigation Plan Updates are complete, but you can still take an online survey through February 20.

The Hazard Mitigation Plan guides actions the City will take to reduce risk and impacts from disasters over the next five years and beyond. It also allows Houston to receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reduce our community’s vulnerability to disasters.

The City’s goal is to prevent damage before it occurs, save lives, protect property, and limit the cost of recovery throughout Houston. The Hazard Mitigation Plan is important for our City to be safe and resilient.

Please take the survey. It will help the City understand our area’s priorities when mitigating hazards such as flooding. The online survey takes about only about five minutes to complete.

The Office of Emergency Management will release the draft plan in March 2023. The public comment period will extend through April. Then FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management will review and approve it before the City Council adopts it. The plan should carry us through 2028.

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan Meeting, Survey

The purpose of the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is to help prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

The CEMP helps the City provide services and support to residents before and after a disaster occurs.

One public meeting remains on February 23rd at 6PM. It will be at the CDC building at 3517 Irvington Boulevard, Houston, TX 77009. You can also attend virtually via FaceBook Live.

So help the City better prepare for disasters. The community meeting will provide a forum both to raise awareness and collect feedback from the community. Topics discussed during the meeting will include:

  • Emergency plan development
  • Mitigation actions resulting from a flood or hurricane
  • Evacuation routes, hubs and processes
  • How to stay involved and become better prepared.

For more information visit https://www.houstonoem.org/pages/plans-programs or call 713-884-4500.

While visiting the OEM website, make sure to sign up for emergency alerts. I did so after Harvey and have found the alerts very helpful on numerous occasions since then, including floods, tornados, hail- and windstorms.

Points to Emphasize

Two of my greatest concerns are evacuation routes and floodplain development. During Harvey, we saw how water came up quickly in the middle of the night without warning. This cut people off from emergency escape routes. All three major evacuation routes out of Kingwood (Hamblen, Kingwood Drive, and Northpark Drive) were impassable to many people.

Evacuation Route during Harvey
Hamblen Road during Harvey. Photo courtesy of Jim Balcom.
Harvey evacuation. Sally Geiss
Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway during Harvey. Photo courtesy of Sally Geis.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/15/2023

1996 Days since Hurricane Harvey