Report Highlights Busy Year for Local Emergency Officials

Harris County's Emergency Operation Center was activated 24 times last year, according to the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's annual report released Tuesday. 

Deputy emergency management coordinator Francisco Sanchez says 2017 started with the assumption Super Bowl LI would be the region's biggest event.

"Before you know we had Harvey, which was the nation's second costliest disaster, and then we had the World Series on top of the other typical events that we activate for," he says.  "So for us, it was definitely an historic year when it comes to not only how busy we were, but to the extent we were involved in local emergencies.

Sanchez says each emergency provides lessons for doing things better next time around.

"Some of those lessons learned were how we helped to incorporate our civilian responders, those folks in the community who want to be part of search and rescue or volunteer during events," he says.  "We've had systems in place for that, but certainly Harvey brought a new magnitude and scale to that."

The huge amount of donations after Harvey also put stress on the agency.

"The donations management piece is a huge piece that's something best served out of our non-profit community, so working to identify partners there who can pick up the ball and get that moving."

The Level One response to Harvey lasted 794 hours and involved 962 staff members.

But even non-weather events offer numerous challenges for emergency officials.

"During the Super Bowl for example, there were a lot of law enforcement and security partners from our federal and state partners that were here," Sanchez added.

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