Nobody does crisis management better than Texas

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It is day three of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas, and regular eTN contributor, Dr. Peter Tarlow, continues to share his personal experience with eTN readers.

We are now into day three of what seems like an eternity. First, we are all safe and sound and there is a chance that today we shall have a small let-up in the constant downpours. Right now, we are once again under a flash flood warning!

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So far in College Station we have had some 18” of rain (45.72 centimeters), and we are expecting another 18 inches. Houston already has had some 25-30 inches of rain with another 25-30 inches (76.2 centimeters) expected this week to fall. To judge just how big the Houston area is, we are talking about a population of over 3,000,000 people in an urban area the size of the state of Delaware.

As noted yesterday, nobody does crisis management better than Texas, and we continue to be impressed by how professional are the local, state, and the federal government agencies. Unfortunately, the storm is locked in between two high-pressure systems – one to the west and one to the east. Thus, the storm being stuck between two high-pressure systems is drawing water from the Gulf of Mexico as if it were a giant “water-sucking” machine. There is simply nothing that anyone can do.

Despite that, FEMA is to be commended, the police and other first aid (fire, ambulance) are doing a spectacular job, and neighbors are going out of their way to help each other. I am impressed at how well people are helping people and keeping a sense of good humor. The Texans are both self-sufficient and clearly practice the principle of Leviticus: “v’Ahavtah et re’echah kmochah/Love your neighbor as yourself.” The number of stories of people risking their own lives to help others could fill a book.

For once, politics have been put aside, and instead of making political points, people have gotten down to the business of saving lives. So far in Houston alone, some 57,000 people have been rescued. The rescue efforts will continue throughout the week. The big fear is that Harvey turns east, regathers its strength and then hits Houston again as a newly-formed and reinvigorated hurricane. It is too early to tell if that scenario will play out or not, and there is also a chance that the hurricane will simply die in west Texas. We should know by Wednesday. Many parts of Houston are now under 8 feet (2.43 meters) of water. All of the major highways are closed in all directions and so are the port and airports.

Although the rebuilding effort will be tremendous, the city seems determined to come back stronger and better than ever.

Here, in College Station, the University had to suspend classes, so no teaching tomorrow. In a moment of comic relief, two horses got loose on the city’s main street, and the police had to chase and save the horses in the middle of town, which of course was flooded. So, we were treated to the spectacle of police officers, who were soaking wet, chasing wild horses in the middle of an “urban lake!” The horses were caught, the police dried off, and we all had at least a bit of humor to help get us through a very trying day.

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is a world-renowned speaker and expert specializing in the impact of crime and terrorism on the tourism industry, event and tourism risk management, and tourism and economic development. Since 1990, Tarlow has been aiding the tourism community with issues such as travel safety and security, economic development, creative marketing, and creative thought. As a well-known author in the field of tourism security, Tarlow is a contributing author to multiple books on tourism security, and publishes numerous academic and applied research articles regarding issues of security including articles published in The Futurist, the Journal of Travel Research and Security Management. Tarlow’s wide range of professional and scholarly articles includes articles on subjects such as: “dark tourism”, theories of terrorism, and economic development through tourism, religion and terrorism and cruise tourism. Tarlow also writes and publishes the popular on-line tourism newsletter Tourism Tidbits read by thousands of tourism and travel professionals around the world in its English, Spanish, and Portuguese language editions. www.travelsecuritytraining.com