Local officials ditch the classroom for hands-on hurricane simulation

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – Forget classroom training. How about a hand-on hurricane simulation?

That's what local officials are gearing up for at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland.

"Our job is to help the citizens," said Hudson City Administrator James Freeman.

City officials across Angelina County have spent countless hours in hurricane preparedness training since Ike came ashore in 2008.

But nothing like the skills they'll learn at a conference in Maryland. The training will include real life scenarios that test their reaction time, organization and ability to work together.

"Every possible scenario that you could come up with they'll have," said Angelina County Emergency Management Coordinator Ricky Conner. "There's going to be flooding, there's going to be wind damage. There's going to be people trapped in houses."

When all of these emergencies are developing simultaneously the response must be fast.

"You're doing everything you'd be doing in real life. You know, as if was actually happening you know from talking to the media to actually sending your crews and actually responding to each threat," said Freeman.

Conner organized plans to undergo the training. Twenty others from the county will join him in Maryland, something he says has never happened before.

"It ranges from police, to mayors, to city council members to firemen," said Conner. "We all deal with the same problems. Once when we're training together, it helps you deal with the problems better."

Teamwork and communication are key when resources are limited.

"You're talking about generators, supplies. You know even as far as ice and food, you know sand bags, tarps," said Freeman.

From the days before a storm hits, to cleanup, it's training that will prepare Angelina County for the worst.

"It puts you to the test. It makes you think," said Conner.

He says we'll be ready for whatever mother-nature sends our way.

Officials from Hudson, Huntington, Diboll, Lufkin, and throughout Angelina County will be represented at the hurricane preparedness training later this month. It won't cost the cities a dime. The free conference is sponsored by FEMA.

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