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Safe harbor from Hurricane Harvey

No flooding, power outages at Eagle’s Trace during epic storm

Created date

September 5th, 2017
Eagle’s Trace resident Donna Craig, right, pictured with Gloria Ballard, volunteered to help serve at a buffet set up in the community’s Garden Room Restaurant during Hurricane Harvey.

Eagle’s Trace resident Donna Craig, right, pictured with Gloria Ballard, volunteered to help serve at a buffet set up in the community’s Garden Room Restaurant during Hurricane Harvey.


As Hurricane Harvey raged into Houston on a Friday evening in late August, residents and staff at Eagle’s Trace were prepared for the onslaught of driving rain and gale-force winds.

The Erickson Living community in West Houston implemented its hurricane preparedness plan earlier in the week as Harvey gained momentum in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We began to execute our comprehensive hurricane preparedness plan to maintain the safe operation of our community and to ensure the well-being of our residents and staff,” says Executive Director Stephen Aigner.

Equipped to weather the storm

Eagle’s Trace is equipped with a backup generator in the event of a power outage. The community also maintains a supply of food and medical necessities on site, as well as a trailer filled with emergency supplies like cots.

To ensure ongoing communication with residents, Eagle’s Trace can reach all telephones in resident apartments simultaneously via the SwiftReach program, which allows the leadership team to convey real-time information to residents.

“We were carefully monitoring updates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the status of the Addicks and Barker Cypress Reservoirs,” says Aigner.

Harvey’s devastation across the region was unprecedented, as more than 9 trillion gallons of rain fell over a 36-hour period, prompting KTRK Channel 13’s Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller to say, “There’s so much water in the city right now, we’re like one big bayou.”

Yet Eagle’s Trace stayed dry.

“The campus maintained full power and communications throughout the storm,” says Aigner. “There was no major infrastructure damage and no flooding.”

‘We couldn’t have been in a better place’

To ensure residents’ safety and well-being, the leadership team and key personnel stayed overnight at the community starting on Friday, sleeping on cots and couches.

“The staff was amazing,” says Sandy Wills, who moved to Eagle’s Trace in 2016 with her husband Tom. “They stayed to tend to our needs, while so many of them have their own families and homes.”

For community members, life at Eagle’s Trace continued with minimal interruption. The community offered a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Garden Room Restaurant every day during the storm. Many of the people who live at Eagle’s Trace volunteered to serve food in an effort to help the dining services staff on campus. 

The Eagle’s Trace Strummers, a musical group featuring residents playing ukuleles, practiced as usual on Monday morning as rain pelted down outside. Residents played games and watched movies, glad to be among friends safely weathering the storm.

“I didn’t have one bit of anxiety,” says Fran Gleeson. “We couldn’t have been in a better place when Harvey hit.”

A different reality

Now, as Houston faces a long road toward recovery, Eagle’s Trace residents and staff know how fortunate the community was throughout the catastrophic hurricane turned tropical storm.

“The reality that so many Houstonians are facing in the aftermath of Harvey is thankfully not the reality at Eagle’s Trace,” says Sales Director Pam Burgeson, who stayed at Eagle’s Trace for the duration of the storm and helped out as needed.

As Houstonians faced long lines and empty shelves at area grocery stores, Eagle’s Trace received a food delivery from Sysco even before the rain stopped falling. Newspaper delivery resumed within a week of Harvey’s landfall. No cars in the parking lot flooded.

“We count our blessings,” says Fran. “We were extremely fortunate.”