The 2017 hurricane season begins today, and I’d like to take this opportunity to assure you that the University of Houston has been busy double-checking our emergency procedures with this in mind. I also want to stress how important it is for each of you to be properly prepared should we face such a threat.
Several of us at UH know firsthand that here on the Gulf Coast hurricanes are not some hypothetical hazard, but a fact of life.
In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike, the third most destructive storm to make landfall in the United States, caused considerable damage to the city of Houston and to our campus, impacting nearly one in every five of our buildings and destroying a third of our trees. Our campus community pulled together admirably in the aftermath, and we were able to recover effectively – and even served as a distribution point for the public relief effort, with UH volunteers handing out ice, water and packaged meals to long lines of neighbors in need.
While that community service is a gratifying memory, my most vivid recollection is still the terrible devastation a hurricane can cause. That’s why I urge you to be ready if we find ourselves facing that situation again.
So, what should you do?
For one thing, it’s crucial that you are signed up to receive our new UH ALERT Emergency Notification System messages via your cell phone. Please be aware that does not happen automatically – you need to actively input your cell phone number into our system in order to receive emergency text messages. To do that, go to this page for instructions on how to complete this in MyUH or PASS.
While UH ALERT also uses conventional email to convey most emergency information – as well as social media, digital signage and home page notices – text messages on your cell phone are generally the most expedient and reliable mode of communication in extreme circumstances. I cannot stress too strongly how important it is for you to be signed up to receive these emergency text messages. And if you would like your family or friends to receive this information as well, you can share this page with them.
It’s also imperative that you are familiar with the University’s general procedures regarding Hurricane Preparedness and how these specifically affect your own units. Do you understand your role in pre-storm preparation and post-storm recovery operations? Do you know how to contact your colleagues? Are there special arrangements you are responsible for? Do our student residents understand the evacuation plans? Do you know if you’re considered “essential personnel”? Have you reviewed your department’s Business Continuity Plans?
Finally, you should make every effort to stay well informed by visiting the UH ALERT emergency site for the latest updates whenever a hurricane or serious tropical storm is on the horizon.
The University of Houston is committed to ensuring the safety of our campus community throughout the hurricane season, and I am asking you to join us as responsible partners in this vital effort.
With warm regards,