Emergency Management for East Texas counties discuss Harvey, issues with Red Cross
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Emergency management departments from Nacogdoches, Sabine, Newton, Polk, Houston, and Tyler counties met at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin, Wednesday, to talk through their reactions to Hurricane Harvey.
According to Angelina County Emergency Management Director, Ricky Conner, a meeting like this one is held after any major disaster or emergency.
"We're trying to get better during an event, during an emergency situation, where all the counties are involved, so people can learn a little bit," Conner said.
Many of the counties spoke about evacuee transportation between neighboring counties, that had gone well. However, a major theme for the meeting was issues surrounding Red Cross' involvement.
The Polk County representative recounted being handed a list of services provided by Red Cross that didn't seem to have been provided to the county. The representative from Tyler County said that resources were distributed to Tyler County that had not been requested.
Conner thought that Red Cross was ill prepared for the disaster.
"Once again the communication kind of broke down between all the entities and Red Cross, as far as the shelters being open or not being open," Conner said. "I think that was our biggest issue, but we're working to fix that."
Scott Brawley with Red Cross in Lufkin said that he was not present for the event because he hadn't been invited. He added that he and other Red Cross representatives could have provided valuable insight.
"After action reviews are a critical part of any operation, but, I think, if you don't have all of the team players there, because this is a team effort, then it kind of skews views," Brawley said. "Because everybody's got different perceptions."
Brawley personally oversaw the Angelina and Nacogdoches counties and says that his perception of Red Cross' preparedness was very different from how the other counties recounted it.
"For this particular event, we were very prepared because, the number of people that eventually ended up coming to this area, we had plenty of capacity to house them," Brawley said.
Other issues brought up at the meeting included the response to extreme medical issues and coordination with military support.
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