Men's Breakfast Report, April 8, 2017
Men's Breakfast, June 2017
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, June 10th with Glenn LaMont, assistant director of the Brazoria County Emergency Management Department. Glen was raised in Florida so he was familiar with hurricanes. After high school he served in the Coast Guard for nineteen years. Near the end of his service he concentrated on emergency management. The last years of his Coast Guard service were spent in Brazoria County. When it came time to rotate to a new duty station he decided to resign from the service and stay in Brazosport because his children were established in local schools. He took a couple of management jobs and then went to work for the county in the finance department. When the emergency management department was established he transferred to it. He is now director of the department under Steve Rosa who was to be the featured guest. Glenn is now doing most of the public outreach for the department.
The emergency management does planning and preparation for many types of possible emergencies in the county. The most prominent of these is hurricanes. Glenn described a recently performed drill. A simulated evacuation was staged at the Angleton Fair Grounds. This consisted of having many people come register to be evacuated with their pets and required medical and other supplies. Some people also volunteered to take a bus to Belton to test the actual evacuation. There they were put up in shelters for the night and then bussed back. The test was generally successful but showed a few improvements were desirable.
This test was for evacuation of people that could not evacuate on their own. However, it started from the Angleton Fair Grounds so people had to get to the Fair Grounds. If a person could drive to the Fair Grounds he could probably drive to his destination. Therefore, systems are necessary to get people to the Fairgrounds. The state has a 211 call system to help with this. A person unable to evacuate on his own should call 2111 well in advance of an emergency to set up a plan. Local resources, such as police and school districts, will get evacuees to the fairgrounds. A problem is that some people will not know that they need help until it is time to evacuate which my strain the system. Glenn does say that they will be able to handle this.
Most people will evacuate on their own in their own cars. Glen said that plans have been improved since Hurricane Rita. For example, there is no longer a requirement that you take designated routes out of town; you can change roads at will. The most important is better coordination among cities. Brazosport will evacuate well before a hurricane and Houston will delay evacuation until the coastal counties have evacuated.
Emergency generators were discussed. Since Hurricane Ike, there have been a large number of emergency generators installed at critical points in the cities, funded by federal grants. These will provide power to essential functions such as police stations, sewage plants and sewage lift stations. A city can survive with most services, such as water and electricity, interrupted, but not without operating sewers. A question about these generators is the fuel. Most of the generators use diesel fuel. The problem with diesel fuel is that bacteria will grow in diesel fuel that is standing for a long time. The bacteria produce a sludge that clogs the injectors of the engine and stops it. The choice is to keep the tanks full at all times and risk fouling or to fill the tanks just before a hurricane and risk being unable to fill the tanks because of lack of fuel or manpower to fill the tanks. Glen said that most of the tanks are kept full. He said that the intake pipes are well above the bottom of the tank so as not to pick up the sludge. He also said that some generators are using natural gas which should be available even during a hurricane.
Another topic was chemical hazards. There are a large number of facilities that store and produce large amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals in this county. He said that they have meetings with safety personnel from the chemical plants in the county and plan for various emergencies. He also said that the state requires these companies to report amounts and types of hazardous materials that they have in their facilities. Transportation of chemicals is also a danger. One of our church members was injured when an ammonia truck overturned in Houston thirty years ago. Glenn said that there is also planning for this type of disaster.
The guests had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, July 8th.