Articles

Planning and Preparedness

The City of South Houston Office of Emergency Management's Planning Division is responsible for a number of planning activities aimed at enhancing the City's preparedness for disasters and emergencies. Probably the most visible product of those planning activities is the Basic Emergency Plan, the comprehensive, all-hazard plan that coordinates the emergency management activities of the City of South Houston. Although the Basic Plan addresses all phases of emergency management, it is specifically oriented toward preparedness and response activities. The Plan is a policy document developed and maintained by the Planning Coordinator, and signed by the County Judge, local Mayors, and Emergency Management Coordinators, upon review and concurrence.

The Office of Emergency Management develops contingency plans that guide the city's response to natural and man-made emergencies, from extreme weather to hazardous material incidents. Each plan focuses on three components of a disaster: preparedness, initial response, and recovery. The purpose of these plans is to keep the city safe and, following a disaster, to return residents to their daily routines as quickly as possible.

When a plan is activated, the emergency management office coordinates the skills of County, city, state, federal, and non-governmental agencies, to ensure the plan is effectively carried out. Large-scale countywide emergencies, like a transit strike or a coastal storm, can require the collaboration of dozens of agencies and thousands of emergency responders. Smaller incidents, such as localized power outages or water main breaks, may only require a handful of agencies to complete restoration.

The Office of Emergency Management reviews, tests, and revises these plans as intelligence and resources change. The agency enlists subject matter experts from all County agencies, including law enforcement and fire departments, and other non-city groups to advise on aspects of each plan.

A large part of planning is what’s done in addition to coordinating emergency responses. The Office of Emergency Management works to inform the public of the potential hazards, in an effort to make sure that the city residents know how to avoid disasters or act in the event of a disaster. The Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to educate themselves and others about emergency preparedness.