FEMA, DOD and others meet in SA to prepare for hurricane season

Federal agencies play out worst case scenario

Author: Justin Horne, Meteorologist/Reporter, jhorne@ksat.com
Published On: Apr 04 2012 06:04:18 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 04 2012 10:00:10 PM CDT

While many in the south are still reeling from tornado damage, another natural disaster season is lurking around the corner.

Hurricane season begins on June 1 and the federal government is leaving nothing to chance.

On Wednesday, at Fort Sam Houston, the Department of Defense prepared for the worst.

"We prefer not to have Department of Defense involvement, but we always have to plan for the worse case and that's what this about,” said Kristian Marks, chief of plans division for Army North.

In this case, a dual-strike hurricane during the Republican Convention in Tampa.

The scenario played out at an auditorium at Fort Sam Houston with dozens of federal agencies from the FAA to FEMA to the Department of Defense, all rehearsing their roles in a disaster scenario. Representatives from Mexico and Canada also joined to create a cohesive partnership.

"So when it comes time for that disaster, that emergency, we can pick up the phone and know whose on the other line and know what they’re thinking,” said Marks.

To control chaos after a natural disaster is not always easy, with organizations functioning at different capacities. A lesson the federal government, and more specifically FEMA, learned in 2005.

"A tremendous amount was learned from Katrina,” said Kevin Hannes, Federal Coordination Officer for FEMA Region 6, which includes Texas.

FEMA was criticized for a slow response following Hurricane Katrina and Hannes believed meetings, like this one, ensure they are better prepared for such a disaster.

"We're going to move faster, we're going to move things quicker into the region, but at the state’s request,” said Hannes.

In the end, federal agencies believe local and state governments are more than capable of taking on a hurricane themselves, but will be ready for action should they be needed again.