July 1, 2004
Emergency Changes Post-Allison
(also see related emergency story)
The University of Houston invested nearly $6 million in mitigation
and developed emergency policies and procedures after Tropical Storm
Allison struck the city from June 5 to June 9, 2001.
EMERGENCY POLICY/ PROCEDURE
- Developed an extensive emergency preparedness
procedure, which includes establishing the police station as the
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and regularly monitoring storms
or hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The procedure also identifies
key administrators and staff members to man the EOC if a major
storm or hurricane strikes.
For details on the emergency management plan, visit http://www.uh.edu/emergency/.
- Determined which buildings may need to be evacuated
first in the case of rising waters — residential facilities,
the Law Center, the UC Satellite and the Ezekiel Cullen Building.
Replaced solid steel doors with eight submarine doors at selected
tunnel entrances and throughout the selected tunnels. Unlike
the former steel doors, the submarine doors are built to withstand
the force of water and are designed to close automatically.
Installed more than 50 protective barriers, such as ramps and
floodgates, at all of the buildings on campus that flooded the
most during Allison, including the UC Satellite, UC Underground,
Moody Towers, Law Center, Agnes Arnold Hall courtyard, Fine
Arts Building and the garage at the Hilton at the University
of Houston. For instance, the 16 floodgates are activated after
water inundates any area, raising three-foot steel walls to
prevent water from seeping into the buildings.
Installed 30 new large submersible pumps. Large pumps at such
locations as the Law Center, Moody Towers and Philip G. Hoffman
Hall (PGH) have automatic sensors so if water rises faster than
two inches per hour text messages are automatically sent to
several key administrators to alert them.
Increased the size and number of emergency generators to more
than 20. New large generators were placed in selected buildings
including the Computing Center, Science and Research I and Science
and Research II. The police station also has a new generator.
Moved generators and more than 20 pumps from basements of various
buildings. Also, moved computer labs and the John O’Quinn
Law Library from various basements to upper floors.
If materials or equipment couldn’t be moved because of the
lack of space or the expense of relocating, the university installed
additional protection to prevent water damage. The university
also rebuilt lower floors with surfaces such as treated concrete
and marine water-resistant sheetrock that are waterproof and easy
to clean if flooding occurs.
- Created a weather station that monitors the amount
of rain the campus receives and sends text messages to several
key administrators and staff members if rain amounts suggest potential
problems. Plant Operations controls the station, which is located
in the General Services Building.
Established a security division in the UH Police Department
(UHPD) to provide additional surveillance when buildings are
Enhanced the UHPD’s communication network to agencies
off campus to provide such information as traffic conditions,
road closures and emergency shelters. The police routinely receive
weather-related alerts from a variety of sources to provide
early-warning (real-time) weather alerts to the campus.
Equipped the EOC with telephone and computer data ports for
each unit of the Emergency Management Team.
Identified flood-prone streets and intersections and planned
vehicular evacuation routes. The top four flood-prone streets
and intersections are at the underpass at Lockwood and Elgin
streets at Interstate 45, 3800 Wheeler Avenue between Scott
Street and Cullen Boulevard, the underpass at Texas Spur 5 and
Old Spanish Trail Drive and UH Entrance 18 at Elgin Street.
Added technological innovations to assist in identifying problem
areas that may unexpectedly develop. Closed circuit television
cameras have been, or will be, installed to monitor sensitive
- Identified and made preparations to acquire and
use “high-water” vehicles to reach otherwise inaccessible
areas of the campus.
Serviced and tested water pumps and generators monthly during
non-hurricane season, and will service and test this equipment
weekly during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to
Purchased five larger storage tanks for gasoline.
Purchased emergency supplies, including sheetrock, water, food,
generators and emergency lights, and conducts weekly checks