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No holes in the safety net

Hurricane preparedness a top priority at West Houston community

Created date

August 20th, 2014

No one likes to think about natural disasters. But when you live in a region prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

David Roth, a forecaster for the National Weather Service (NWS), says the Texas coast averages three tropical storms and/or hurricanes every four years. In Roth’s report, Texas Hurricane History, published by the NWS, he says Texas’s longest hurricane-free period was ten years, from October 1989 (Hurricane Jerry) through August 1999 (Hurricane Bret).

The data supports what Gulf Coast dwellers know instinctively—storms will come; it’s just a matter of when and where they’ll hit.

“Since we cannot prevent hurricanes, the next best thing to do is to know what they can do and be prepared,” wrote Roth in his report.

One group of savvy seniors in West Houston is doing just that.

Taking precautions

Staff and residents at Trace, an Erickson Living community, are taking every precaution to ensure that hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, doesn’t pose a threat.

“This is one of the safest places to be when a tropical storm or hurricane blows through Houston,” says resident Bill Mellin, who moved to Eagle’s Trace in 2005. “We proved that during [Hurricane] Ike.”

Bill leads the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a post he’s held for the past four years.

Working in conjunction with the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management and Harris County Citizens Corps, Eagle’s Trace regularly offers eight-week CERT training courses covering a full range of disaster preparedness topics.

“We’ve had about 75 residents complete the CERT training classes,” says Bill, a retired computer programmer. “After they go through the initial training, we continue to meet and plan for contingencies.”

Proven track record

When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, it proved the value of planning. With traffic at a standstill on all major highways out of Houston, Eagle’s Trace residents were safely nestled in their apartments and in the community’s clubhouse.

“We have a number of measures in place to make sure our residents are secure in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane,” says Director of General Services Mark Batterson. “We have back-up generators to power emergency lighting and medical equipment, we keep a two-week supply of food and water on site, and we’ve installed shatterproof window film on all clubhouse windows.”

Bill says its these measures, plus the community’s proven track record of taking care of its residents, that gives him peace of mind for the future.

“I’m safer here than I would be if I’d stayed in my home,” he says.


Eagle’s Trace safety measures

  • Backup generators to power emergency lighting and medical equipment
  • Electric and gas-powered pumps to augment city water pressure
  • Two-week supply of food and water kept on site
  • Shatterproof window film installed on clubhouse windows
  • Security staff trained as emergency medical technicians
  • Security staff on duty at all times
  • Operational emergency pull cords in each apartment even during extended outages
  • Swiftreach telephone system calls all apartments simultaneously with notifications
  • A satellite phone with a designated phone number for family members to check on loved ones
  • CERT-trained floor captains available to assist residents