Unlike many storms, Harvey was fast forming and difficult to predict. With many forecasts pointing to the hurricane hitting the Rio Grande Valley, BPUB needed to be prepared and act fast. The Rio Grande Valley narrowly missed being hit by Hurricane Harvey, but BPUB was already making preparations in case the storm made direct contact. So what’s done in a situation like this?

As Harvey churned nearby in the Gulf of Mexico, BPUB activated its General Emergency Plan. Within BPUB, the general manager/CEO is one responsible for activating the emergency plan in coordination with the Brownsville mayor. Activation of the plan puts everyone on notice and changes the hierarchy to an Incident Command System. This places one person at the lead from which all directives are filtered down. At this point, many other major preparations had already been done. This includes things like gassing vehicles, checking supplies and lowering resaca levels.

On the day the storm was scheduled to hit the Valley, normal operations ceased. BPUB had already set up its Incident Command Center (ICC) at the BPUB Board Room and also had representatives at the city of Brownsville’s ICC at the main branch of the public library. The ICC is the hub from which information is received and instructions are sent out.

On this day, the tasks were mainly about vigilance for what the storm was doing and how it was affecting our customers as well as providing people both within the company and outside it with the latest information. It’s a big operation, one that can put people with responsibilities outside what they do on a daily basis, but it’s all in service to our customers. We make sure we have our personnel are ready for anything.

Although ready, we were lucky this time that there were only a couple of isolated outages. Those outages were caused by tree branches or palm fronds making contact with power lines due to the high winds.

Read about how to use an Incident Command System at your business.