has contingency plans prepared
By Icess Fernandez
Daily Cougar Staff
In light of a recent FBI general warning
of future terrorist attacks, UH and many other local institutions and government
entities are working on or have already established
For UH, the emergency plan is as simple
as a couple of phone calls. And the numbers are on white index cards, which
are always carried by the University's top
"Key individuals have a list of people
to contact. It's like a military system," said Randy Harris, vice president
for administration and finance.
The system in place has a pyramid-like
structure. Top administrators have a list of people to contact. In turn,
administrators can be contacted within minutes, whether they
are on campus, elsewhere in Houston or
in another state.
After the top administrators make their
phone calls, those people begin calling others.
"If there is someone that cannot be reached,
then the people under them are called and they are contacted," Harris said.
The list has the office, home and cell
phone numbers of everyone involved.
Eventually, any vital news would reach
the entire University community, including students, within minutes of
the original call, Harris said.
"With a couple of phone calls, I would
have reached 800 people within a couple of minutes. People would be amazed
at how well-prepared we are," he said.
Defense of Houston is an organization formed
to aid in preparations for disasters, including terrorism and biological
The group formed five days after the Sept.
11 attacks, but talk about emergency services started earlier, said Robert
Crutchfield, an advisory board member.
"The talks before were informal and general
in nature," Crutchfield said. "There were discussions that the institutions
in the Medical Center (needed) to work more closely."
The organization boasts top officials from
government, business, churches, academia and the medical community on both
its advisory and executive boards.
Members include: Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown;
the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist
Church and a close friend of President
George W. Bush; Congressman Ken Bentsen
(D-Houston); Harris County Judge Robert Eckels; Ken Lay, chairman and CEO
of Enron; and UH professors C. W.
"Paul" Chu and Tatcho Mindiola.
The group is currently developing a model
disaster plan. Although the specifics have not been widely released, the
plan focuses on the medical community. Special
reports are geared specifically for churches,
businesses, and other organizations, Crutchfield said.
Evacuation plans and plans for area colleges,
universities, and government offices have not been drafted but might be
in the future, he said.
Information on the group can be found at
its Web site, www.defenseofhouston.org.
Because the Southeast Texas region is prone
to hurricanes and flooding, mass evacuation plans have already been generated.
They can be found at the Web site of
the City of Houston Office of Emergency