'Hurricane Todd' hits Sugar Land on May 30

The city of Sugar Land is hosting a full-scale hurricane response exercise from May 30–June 1 as part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week.



Since Sugar Land is a pass-through community during an evacuation, it is important for residents to understand the effects natural disasters can have on the city, said Pat Hughes, Sugar Land's assistant fire chief and emergency management coordinator.



"You run from water, you hide from wind," he said. "In the evacuation process, we have a lot of people from the coast that pass through our community to go to other places. We still have the need in certain events that we would have to evacuate our neighborhoods and possibly set up shelters in our community."



In an effort to provide participants with an opportunity to evaluate the condition of existing response plans, the exercise will focus on notification systems, local emergency responder command and coordination, and the integration of available state and federal resources.



Other partners in the exercise include Fort Bend ISD, City of Stafford Emergency Management, Fort Bend County Red Cross and the Brazos River Authority.



"This exercise gives our folks a good opportunity to interact with different groups and organizations," Hughes said. "Doing a full-scale exercise like this allows us to get new people involved and conduct some training so we have experience setting up a shelter and running something like this."



The city's animal services group and local levee improvement districts will also participate in the exercise.



"In past years, pets have not been a concern in evacuations," Hughes said. "Past events have shown us that if you expect people to evacuate, you better make plans to care for their pets during that situation."



The exercise is expected to focus on several important aspects when responding to a hurricane including mass sheltering, evacuation routines and HAZMAT response. The city will undergo scenarios that focus on a variety of areas.



The hurricane simulation is expected to bring about 150 military personnel with the state guard and equipment to the city. The Texas State Guard is providing the manpower to create a realistic shelter at Wheeler Fieldhouse in Mercer Stadium, which is at 16403 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land. The exercise is not expected to cause any street closures or effect local traffic, city officials said.



The exercise is set to begin Friday, May 30 at noon and is expected to run through Sunday, June 1 at 1 p.m.



The city of Sugar Land and its partners will be evaluated on a number of key areas:



Resource coordination—This area determines the strengths and weaknesses for on-scene command and control, emergency operations and coordination of response resources.



Access control—This area reviews the plans for perimeter control, staging and security.



Sheltering and housing of pets—This area ensures the safety of people and animals.



HAZMAT response—This area is to determine the effectiveness of identifying and containing possible chemical releases to ensure the safety of surrounding communities.



Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, contact the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management at 281-342-6185, or visit www.fbcoem.org.



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