Wednesday, October 24, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 45


 
 









 
Administration: University 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
evacuation plans.

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
administrators.

"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 warfare.

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 Management, www.ci.houston.tx.us/OEM.
 
 
 

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