Hurricane conference covers all bases in case of emergency

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

April 24, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 24, 2014 at 11:25 p.m.

Victoria officials are prepared to handle any kind of emergency - whether a natural or man-made disaster.

"It's always a community approach," Jeb Lacey, emergency management coordinator for Victoria County, said Thursday during a panel discussion at the Mid Coast Hurricane and Disaster Conference. "It's a team effort that involves cooperation of the community."

First responders, members of the community and organizations met at the Victoria Community Center to hear from industry representatives and learn more about what they can do in the case of an emergency situation.

Lacey, along with law enforcement and public safety officials, answered questions from the group pertaining to emergency situations. The group discussed issues including mandatory evacuations and re-entry plans for civilian residents.

"A mandatory evacuation is a last-chance effort to save lives," Lacey said. "You are legally required to leave until the evacuation is lifted."

If Victoria is not evacuated but in a state of emergency, Victor Wells, Texas Emergency Medical Task Force manager, said there are measures in place for disaster response.

"We don't know what the disasters are going to be or where the next storm is going to hit," he said.

Wells has worked with groups across the state to build teams capable of responding to times of disaster. The goal is to be rapidly deployable, he said.

During a hurricane, preparation is the most important step, said John Metz of the National Weather Service.

It's too early for hurricane predictions, he said, but this could be the year Victoria experiences a major hurricane.

"We have to be prepared," Metz said. "We need to focus on preparedness."

Even if a hurricane doesn't make landfall here, he said, it's important to anticipate other elements that come from other hurricanes. Storm surges, inland flooding, wind and tornadoes can be equally devastating to coastal communities.

If the area experiences those disasters, Wells said Victoria officials can call on other Emergency Medical Task Force resources to help. Because Victoria first responders may be tied up, it's important to have other resources who can come and help, he said.

"We're trained to handle and respond to emergencies," said Wells.



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