Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2011 Vol. 58 No. 7

MEET TDEM HURRICANE PLANNER CHRIS MOORE

Hurricane Planner Chris Moore
Chris Moore, TDEM Hurricane Preparedness Officer

Chris Moore began working in emergency management as a local Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer in 2000. In 2001 he supported 9/11 recovery in New York as a Red Cross caseworker and outreach liaison in lower Manhattan. As a Sergeant with US Army Civil Affairs, Chris served as a liaison between coalition forces, non-governmental organizations, international aid organizations, local elected officials, and tribal leaders, while overseeing infrastructure development projects and humanitarian assistance distribution during two tours of duty in Afghanistan. While serving in the Army Reserve, Chris attended the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 2009. The following year, he began with the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Preparedness Program, and supported the State Operations Center activation in response to Hurricane Alex in June, 2010.

What are the job duties of the TDEM hurricane planner?
The TDEM hurricane preparedness officer coordinates Hurricane Evacuation Studies for the Texas Coast with the US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, state agencies and local jurisdictions. I am responsible for reviewing and updating the State Hurricane Response Plan, and developing and disseminating planning materials to meet the needs of decision-makers in coastal areas. The job also involves development of training courses focused on hurricane preparedness, planning and decision assistance resources. It requires coordination with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center to monitor tropical cyclones that could potentially impact the state.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The Texas coast encompasses many diverse local areas, and each locale has its own unique considerations with regard to hurricane response. Planning for how a hurricane might affect each area, and what assistance the state might need to provide to support the wide range of potential local operations has been a challenge.

What got you interested in the hurricane planning business?
My father moved from Texas to Florida prior to Hurricane Andrew. After seeing the aftermath of Andrew first hand, I began to take an interest in hurricane response. During my summer visits to South Florida I always watched for tropical weather threats, and often thought about what we could do to prepare for them. I think that’s when I first began to consider emergency management as a career.

What are several tips for locals when writing their local hurricane plan?
Develop a good working relationship with every stakeholder in your plan to ensure that each organization clearly specifies and understands their role, and how they fit into the overall response. Clearly convey your message by using wording that makes the plan as understandable as possible to a diverse audience. Be as concise as possible. Read plans from other jurisdictions to identify improvements you can make and seek out fresh ideas you can apply to plans for your own jurisdiction. Try to understand what the worst case scenario truly entails.

What is the most important message you have for local planners?
Constantly test and evaluate the viability of your plans. Maintain awareness of changes to policy and operational practices. Make an effort to attend as many operations and logistics meetings as possible, and work very closely with each part of your organization to be in the loop about any new developments that could affect your plans. Exercises are the best tool for developing and testing plans, so make sure that you’re involved to find flaws and address issues that need clarification.

What are some online resources?
FEMA’s Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101 gives guidance on planning fundamentals and Emergency Operations Plans (EOP) development.

State Emergency Plans, including the Hurricane Response Plan and risk area maps, Grant Materials, Forms, Surveys, Planning Templates, and Recovery resources are available on the TDEM Forms and Publications page.

Hurricanes can affect the entire state, so it’s important to maintain situational awareness of tropical weather during hurricane season. Visit the National Hurricane Center Web site.

Flooding and river forecast information is available on the National Weather Service site.

Evacuation route information is available from the Texas Department of Transportation.

What is the most important message you have for Texas individuals living in hurricane surge zones?
Get ready before the storm. Prior to the beginning of hurricane season on June 1st, it is important to develop your personal or family evacuation plan. Know where you will go and how to get there. Prepare a kit to take with you, and include everything you will need in the event your home is destroyed. Keep fuel in your vehicle during hurricane season, filling the tank often. You can effectively strengthen your home to protect against the wind, but storm surge is far more destructive. If an evacuation order is issued, don’t hesitate, evacuate.

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