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Shelter from the storm

Eagle’s Trace one of the safest destinations during hurricane season

Created date

August 24th, 2010

Houston has a lot to offer world-class theater, major league sports, and a museum district that s second-to-none. Throw in the out-of-this-world food, and you ve got a winning combination. But here s the hitch: Houston residents also have to contend with weather that can be temperamental and uncooperative. Hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, ushers in the all-too-familiar refrain of preparedness. And with good reason. The Gulf Coast has been pummeled in the past, most recently in 2008 when Hurricane Ike blew in like a thief in the night. This season promises to be just as intimidating, judging from its blustery debut courtesy of Hurricane Alex. When famed hurricane forecaster William Gray, Ph.D., issued his predictions for the 2010 hurricane season at the beginning of June, he anticipated a surge in tumultuous activity. Gray predicted that unseasonably warm temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico could result in 18 named tropical storms, of which 10 would become hurricanes and 5 would become major hurricanes. Not exactly a forecast for sunny skies and smooth sailing. But at one west Houston address, residents have less to worry about than their neighbors in surrounding areas. Mark Batterson, the facilities manager at Eagle s Trace, considers the community to be one of the safest in the city. When Hurricane Ike hit Houston, life at Eagle s Trace continued with minimal interruption. I realized that we had done a good job insulating our residents from the impact of the storm when I overheard a resident asking the communications specialist at the front desk why there was no mail delivery that morning, says Batterson. He didn t realize the extent of the damage just beyond our gates. Within the gates of the community, we ve taken extensive precautionary measures to ensure the well-being of our residents in the event of a tropical storm or a hurricane, he says. These measures include a back-up generator that kicks in when the power goes out, a minimum two-week food supply, and medical supplies kept on campus. In addition, all of the community s security guards are CPR and first aid certified, and most are trained emergency medical technicians. Still, there s always room for improvement. After Ike came through, we spent a lot of time dissecting what happened and looking at processes we can improve, says Batterson. We ve established a hotline for family members of residents to call and get status updates in the event they can t reach a resident. We ve also partnered with CERT to offer several hurricane preparedness seminars on campus. CERT, or the Community Emergency Response Team, includes 50 Eagle s Trace residents who have completed 30 hours of training offered through the Harris County Citizen Corps. Our job is to provide assistance where it s needed, says CERT chairman Bill Mellin. Whether it s handing out supplies or directing residents to the common areas, we re ready to assume any role the command post gives us.

Safe and sound

When James and Sylvia Champion moved toEagle s Tracefrom Rockport (near Corpus Christi) in 2009, they were happy to put a little distance between themselves and the water s edge. We liked the thought of not having to board up windows and doors and being able to stay put when a storm approaches, says Mrs. Champion. Their children were also in favor of the move. The couple s son, Sam Champion, is the weather anchor on ABC s Good Morning America, and their daughter, Teresa, lives in Virginia. Our children both visitedEagle s Traceand helped us move in, says Mrs. Champion. They were in favor of the move before we made our final decision. I think they were a little concerned about us living in Rockport. It gives them peace of mind to know we are someplace more secure.