Disaster Response Journal of Emergency Response to Hurricane Harvey
The number of broken telephone poles was astounding (see Figures 9 and 10), but even more amazing were the hundreds of lineworker crews with buckets, drills, and rigs working on restoring power to this area. They came from all over the country. I have a new appreciation for the way their trade pulls together in a disaster.
Some have asked about our living conditions. It wasn’t the Marriott, but it’s closer than you would think. We were in large tents with thousands of square footage and air-conditioning to the point of being too cold. We had MREs, but as the community around us stabilized and more people lent a hand, our unit became a popular place for food donation and for responders to come and eat (see Figure 11). We had no fewer than three to five dinner offerings each night and plenty of lunch and breakfast. I felt bad, having so much food at our disposal, and hoped nobody within 100 miles of us was hungry. I started feeding most of my patients, and they appreciated it. Most of them hadn’t had much of a hot meal for days. The sleeping cots, with a foam topper, were surprisingly comfortable. We received access to a community center not far away with hot showers and clean bathrooms. We lived better than most within 20 miles of us.
We sent most of the patients we treated home (or what was left of it). Some were sent to the nearest open hospital, which was more than 45 miles away. The industry that really came together during the storm was the area’s independent freestanding emergency centers (FECs). One such facility was just five miles from us, and it had CT, X-ray, and lab up and running with its backup power. We sent them patients needing resources but not admission. Back in Rockport, another FEC was up and running and taking care of dozens of patients in the middle of the disaster zone.
As I reflect, we had it too good. We had one another and our families, with life as usual back at home. For the people of the coastal bend of Texas, their stuff was gone, their homes destroyed, and their lives turned upside down. But Texas is strong, and the Astros just won the World Series. The future is bright for Texas!
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