Ed Emmett Is Officially Pretty Pleased With The Ike Response

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett's official and final scorecard on local-government response to Hurricane Ike: "Pretty good."

At a press conference Monday he addressed what worked and what didn't, and announced that most things worked out well.

"A state has the primary responsibility, if you will, and if we just look at Hurricane Ike and the way it kept moving up the coast, they did a pretty darn good job," he said. 

Among the trouble spots, though, were getting deliveries to PODs (and if you've banished that acronym down the Ike memory hole, it's "Places of Distriubution," where people lined up for ice, water and MREs.)

During the early relief efforts 81,410 meals were delivered, 1.1 million gallons of water and 10.5 million gallons of ice were passed out and 44 PODs were dispersed over eight days.  While several people did experience long lines and confusion at the POD locations, a good number of people benefited from them. Emmett said the PODs did present a problem and solutions need to be put in place to alleviate those problems in the future.

Also needing tweaking: The system for getting special-needs residents evacuated.

He said Homeland Security and Emergency Management asks people to call 211 in advance so that they can best assist those with special needs. However, things don't seem to work that way.

"As soon as the storm heads our way the phone lines start lighting up and everyone starts lining up," Emmett said. "But, I think it's important to work with various neighborhood organizations and churches and those types to get them to help because the more we can expand our effort the better off we'll be."

For that reason, Homeland Security and Emergency Management is going to put out public service announcements to ensure people with special needs are taken care of properly during a crisis situation.

He'd also like to see a more efficient way of dealing with issues than massive conference calls.

The huge calls were sometimes the source of confusion, he said, but still did their job. "We did nothing but communicate with those communities that had been hit and was doing that on a regular basis, making sure they had whatever resources they need," he said.

Seeing as how the lessons from Rita weren't followed during Ike, we'll have to wait and see if the Ike lessons get followed any better.

Or, you know, we could maybe actually not have a hurricane threat this year.

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