News

    Texas Starts Four-Day Simulation of Hurricane Disaster

    With the start of hurricane season less than a month away, officials in Texas are carrying out a four-day drill to test systems and coordination of emergency response teams. The idea is to avoid some of the mistakes made last year.

    Police, fire fighters, city, county and state officials were at their posts Wednesday as a category four hurricane bore down on the Texas gulf coast, threatening lives and property over an area of several thousand square kilometers. Fortunately, the hurricane was not real and the emergency response teams were working with data sent to them from state officials in the Texas capital of Austin that simulated a real event.

    Over the rest of this week, they will continue to work on their skills and identify problem areas that need to be addressed before a real hurricane arrives.

    Last September, state and local officials were shocked by the flaws in the system that left thousands of people from southeast Texas stranded on crowded roadways as Hurricane Rita approached. Many people ran out of gasoline and had to abandon their vehicles. Some who stayed put suffered through power outages and a lack of food and water, even though Rita ended up making landfall close to the Texas/Louisiana border and spared the people stuck on the highways north and west of Houston.

    The man handling emergency response for Harris County, where Houston is located, is Judge Robert Eckels. He says state and local coordination will be better this year and that there will be rapid implementation of counterflow lanes, whereby all traffic on all highway lanes is directed out of the urban area. Officials are also trying to provide gasoline, water and food along evacuation routes. Still, he says, government can only do so much and citizens need to make their own preparations.

    "I cannot tell you that there is going to be a store full of food ready to go when the hurricane comes," said Robert Eckels. "That re-emphasizes the importance of our community education campaign and something the media can help us with. Everyone today should go out and get their kit to be prepared, three-days worth of food, a gallon of water per person per day, everyone should get their hurricane kit today."

    Texas Governor Rick Perry is also urging people in vulnerable areas along the coast to develop an escape plan now so that they will be ready when a storm approaches. He is also asking that people who have no transportation or are too old, ill or disabled to move themselves to call a special telephone number and register with state officials so that there will be a record of who they are and where they are.

    Meanwhile, in neighboring Louisiana, officials are working on similar evacuation plans. In New Orleans, a city still a long way from recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the basic plan announced by Mayor Ray Nagin is to completely evacuate the city the moment a hurricane larger than category two approaches, which would mean a storm with winds higher than 177 kilometers per hour.

    Mayor Nagin says there will be no shelters set up in the city and that the downtown convention center will be a staging area for people to be loaded onto buses leaving the city. After Katrina struck on August 29 last year, thousands of people flocked to the convention center and the New Orleans Superdome sports stadium seeking shelter. Both venues became scenes of misery as the displaced people waited in stultifying heat for several days to be rescued.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.