Wednesday may not have been the last time that a Houston police officer will smash a car door's window to pieces in the middle of City Hall.
On Wednesday, Turner presented the new “car escape tools” that will be given away to up to 2,000 residents over the next month who want to make sure they are prepared in case they ever face life-threatening high-water on the road. The city is ramping up its “Turn Around Don't Drown” campaign amid the year's hurricane season—and following the city's second-wettest spring in recorded history. During the April 18 flood, eight people died after their cars were submerged in high waters.
“People aren't dying when they stay calm and off the roads,” Turner said. “They're dying because they are driving in bad weather. They drown because they don't turn around. They drown because they don't run from the water. They drown because they don't make a plan.”
Starting June 23, the city will be hosting several workshops for people who want to learn how to not drown on the road, or simply how to avoid that situation altogether. The first 2,000 people to attend the workshops will receive the car escape tool, which looks like a little repurposed hammer. One HPD officer took a whack at an old car door carried into City Hall's Legacy Room for a demonstration, making it look easy. The tools were donated by the Yellow Cab Greater Houston Transportation Company and Houston Federal Credit Union.
At the workshop, Turner said, residents can also learn the information needed to come up with their own safety plans.
Turner offered some of that information at the press conference: Just six inches of water can knock you off your feet. Just two feet can sweep away your car. After just 30 seconds to one minute, in deep enough water, your car will sink. That's why, Turner said, it's best not to waste a single second on your cellphone.
Facing pressure after the group Residents Against Flooding filed a lawsuit against the city, seeking to force officials into fixing flood-related infrastructure problems, Turner also said, “I am committed to addressing Houston's drainage issues. I've appointed a flood czar to help guide that process, Steve Costello. I want us to move quickly toward solutions, but I can't make it happen tomorrow, and I can't promise there won't be another flood anytime soon.”
In the meantime, perhaps the city's training workshops are the best options. Below are the dates and locations:
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WHEN: Thursday, June 23, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: City Hall's Legacy Room; 901 Bagby
WHEN: Tuesday, June 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Jewish Community Center; 5601 S. Braeswood
WHEN: Wednesday, July 13, 10 a.m. to noon
WHERE: Sunnyside Multi-Service Center; 9314 Cullen
WHEN: Wednesday, July 20, 10 a.m. to noon
WEHRE: Magnolia Multi-Service Center; 7037 Capitol