Regional Disaster Preparedness


Title: Are You Ready?

Video opens with a time-lapse video of a sun rising over a field. Calming music is heard. Birds are chirping. The video then alternates between calm shots of Houston and videos taken during various natural disasters and emergency situations. An animation of the Ready Houston logo (with website: is shown as the video fades to black.

Another calming song plays as the video shows shots of downtown Houston. The narrator begins speaking over shots of an elderly couple standing in front of wildflowers, a woman standing in front of a picture of the space shuttle, and footage from the shuttle as it leaves Earth's atmosphere.

Narrator: Houston and the surrounding region. This is a land of opportunity and can-do spirit. Our region is the type of place where big ideas typically become larger-than-life realities.

The video shows footage of the Memorial Hermann LifeFlight helicopter and its staff, followed by schoolchildren on a boat.

Narrator: But are we really ready for anything?

Shots are shown of a fire. Firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze.

Woman: He ran back into the house to save us, but we were already outside. If only we had agreed on a plan ahead of time, he might still be alive.

The video cuts to flooding in a residential neighborhood.

Man: The water rose so fast. We were so scared.

The video cuts to a fly-over shot of downtown Houston, then a flyover shot of coastline.

Narrator: The Houston region is home to more than six million people, with the majority living about forty feet above sea level in a major hurricane landing zone.

The video shows various historical footage of buildings during a hurricane. Strong winds are evident, as is the large amount of rain. Debris is seen blowing. Then, photos are shown of historic damage from hurricanes.

Narrator: Since 1851, more than sixty hurricanes have struck the Texas Gulf Coast, nearly one-third of them making landfall as a Category Three or greater, and the Galveston hurricane of 1900 still ranks as the deadliest storm in U.S. history, killing more than eight-thousand people.

The video switches to current video of damage from recent storms.

Narrator: More recently, Hurricane Ike devastated the Gulf Coast in 2008 along a path very similar to that of the Galveston hurricane. While Ike's death toll was relatively small, the property damage totaled about thirty-two billion dollars, making Ike the third-costliest Atlantic hurricane in U.S. history.

More hurricane and severe weather footage is shown.

Narrator: Even when the hurricane season misses us, we run the risk of being engulfed by violent storms, tornadoes, or devastating flooding. No one who lived here in 2001 is likely to forget Tropical Storm Alison, which remains the costliest Tropical Storm in U.S. history, causing more than five billion dollars worth of damage to the Houston region.

The video now shows footage of chemical plants.

Narrator: Our disaster threats don't stop with destructive weather. Houston is known as the "Energy Capital of the World"--a great honor, ...

The video now shows footage from chemical disasters, including an explosion, a cloud from a chemical leak, and a plant fire.

Narrator: ... but one that makes us vulnerable to chemical spills, plant explosions, and other industrial accidents. Vast numbers of pipelines extend in all number of directions from the region, carrying flammable fluids underneath our neighborhoods.

Footage of cars on the highway is shown.

Narrator: And hazardous cargo barrels down our freeways every day, around the clock.

Footage is shown of Houston airports.

Narrator: In addition, more than fifty million passengers are served by our three-airport system every year.

A flyover video of shipping containers stacked at a dock is shown.

Narrator: And, we run one of the nation's busiest shipping ports. Our major corporations produce trillions of dollars in annual sales. We are one of the nation's largest centers for world trade. Our size and concentration of industry makes us a prime target for terrorist attacks, just like any other major U.S. city.

The music increases in tempo, creating a suspenseful tone. Footage of the September 11th attacks is shown. Smoke and flames are seen from the World Trade Center as it is struck by an aircraft. People on the New York street react in horror and begin running as one of the towers collapses.

Man in a foreign language (translated): After 9-11, we realized Houston could be a target too.

Another man: We were in a tall Houston downtown building, and I remember evacuating that day. It seemed like a bad dream. How could this be happening?

The video shows firefighters from New York walking through the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Narrator: On American soil, 9-11 opened everyone's eyes to the fact that Houston is in danger too.

A family is shown making breakfast.

Narrator: No one likes to think about disasters, but they can happen here, just like in every other part of the world. The question is, are you prepared to survive them?

A couple is seen sitting on a porch outside their house. An older woman is assisted along a garden path by a younger woman.

Narrator: Your best chance for safety and survival from any disaster are for you and your family to be ready long before disaster ever hits, and the best way to be prepared is to do these three steps:

An animation with the words "Be Prepared" is shown, followed by three pillars rising from the animated piece of paper. The pillars say "Make a Plan," "Build a Kit," and "Stay Informed."

Narrator: Make a plan, build a kit, stay informed. Doing these three steps will help save your life and the lives of others.

The video shows Houston firefighters battling a large blaze, trees being blown in a hurricane, chemicals leaking from a rail car, fire apparatus parked in a staging area, and a house fire.

Narrator: But remember, disaster can strike at any moment, so you should take these three steps right now, beginning with making a plan.

The video returns to the animation, highlighting the "Make a Plan" pillar. Video shots of disasters are then shown as the narrator continues speaking.

Narrator: A good disaster preparedness plan makes you ready for just about anything, from an unexpected explosion, to an event you can see coming for days in advance, such as a hurricane.

The video shows a mother reading to her daughter.

Narrator: A plan helps to organize what is absolutely essential to the well-being, safety, and survival of your loved ones, pets, and yourself in the event of an emergency.

The video shows footage from the Houston Emergency Operations Center. Wall screens show current situation information. Civilians and police sit side by side in front of computers. A group of personnel sit around a table with maps and binders in front of them.

Narrator: When every individual and family has a good plan in place, it allows our various government agencies to put their disaster plans into action for the region as a whole. These organizations are well-coordinated with each other, and have planned and trained for all types of disasters.

The video switches to more footage of the Houston Fire Department on the scene of an emergency.

Narrator: Response and recovery efforts can be slowed down when citizens are not prepared.

The video shows a family around a table discussing their emergency plan. They are speaking a foreign language.

Narrator: When everyone has a plan, everyone is safer. It's important that your plan has a way to account for everyone in your family, wherever they are.

The video shows another family standing on their front lawn. At the father's urging, the daughters say where they will go if a disaster strikes.

Narrator: In case your home is affected by the disaster, designate a meeting place away from home where your family will automatically gather--a park, a neighbor's yard--anywhere that is easy to get to and easy to remember.

The video switches to overhead shots of downtown Houston.

Narrator: Also, choose a backup location farther away, even in another town, in case the devastation in our area is widespread.

The video shows storm footage and pictures of damaged utility poles.

Narrator: It's possible that cell phone service and phone lines could be down or overloaded following a disaster, keeping you from making contact ...

The video switches back to the family on the lawn, as the father continues to explain the emergency plan to his children.

Narrator: ... but having a designated meeting location is something everyone can rely on.

Woman: I couldn't get to the school to pick up my daughter, I couldnt get to them on the landlines, and my cell phone was dead. It was a horrible feeling not being able to reach my family.

Footage of a three-generation family sitting around a table is shown.

Narrator: When planning, write a list of all important phone numbers you might need, such as your hospital and your children's schools. Your phone list should also include one out-of-town that everyone in your family should be instructed to check in with in case of emergency.

The video switches to a scene from the 9-1-1 dispatch center.

Dispatcher: Houston 9-1-1. Do you need the police, fire, or ambulance?

Narrator: And remember, calling 9-1-1 is the best way to summon the authorities if you need help.

Footage of a school bus is shown.

Narrator: If you have kids in school, you shouldn't rush to pick them up. Schools are required to have a disaster response plan in place, and parent interference can disrupt it. Spend some time now learning the details of your school's preparation plan and specifically how to communicate during the disaster. Then, in the heat of the event, there will be no question about what actions you should take.

Footage of an office building is shown.

Narrator: Many of us spend most of our day at work, so you should plan for this as well. Every commercial building is required to have a fire escape plan, but does it go any farther than that? Find out if your company is ready for disasters and what it plans to do to protect its employees. If a plan doesn't exist, urge your company to create one.

Cars are shown driving through a flooded street. A man stands inside his house, videotaping his belongings.

Narrator: If you can't get to your house, or it is destroyed, the first priority is to take care of yourself and your family. But you also need to account for your home, your belongings, and your identity. It's a good idea to make a packet of vital documents and a video recording of all your home's contents, and store it with your family's designated out-of-town contact for possible insurance purposes later.

A man walks up to a neighbor's house. He assists his elderly neighbor to his car.

Narrator: Some members of our community will need special assistance during an emergency. If you don't have access to transportation and you are not a part of your family's or neighbor's readiness plan, then you should pre-register for transportation assistance. All you have to do is dial 2-1-1, and you should do it today.

Operator: 2-1-1, how may I help you?

Footage switches to a woman on the phone with 2-1-1, followed by an animation of the 2-1-1 logo.

Narrator: By registering now, if an evacuation order is issued for your area, emergency management personnel will contact you to schedule your transportation. If you want until disaster strikes, it will likely be too late to get special help.

A woman sits at a library computer and accesses

Narrator: Making a plan is the critical first step in disaster readiness. There are many resources available online to help you determine what your plan should include. These can be found at

An animation shows the words "Be Prepared" sketched on paper, followed by the three pillars from the previous animations. The animation focuses in on the second pillar, "Build a Kit."

Narrator: A plan gives you clarity and peace of mind, but to be truly prepared, you'll need supplies. The next step in disaster preparedness is to build a disaster kit.

The camera pans over examples of disaster supply kit items as the narrator lists them off.

Narrator: You should gather enough water and non-perishable packaged and canned food to last three to seven days. You will need one gallon of water per person, per day. Beyond food and water, several other items should be in your kit, including medications, toiletries, a manual can opener, bug repellant, sunscreen, radio, flashlight, batteries, and extra clothes. You should build a kit for every person in your family. You also need to build a kit for every pet, which should include their food and water, medications, pet carrier, leash, a recent photo, and immunization records in case the pet needs to gain access to a shelter. Keep your disaster kits in an easily accessible place in your home, and make sure all family members know where it is.

A father and daughter walk down a street holding backpacks. They put them into the trunk of their car.

Narrator: Of course, you may not be home when a disaster hits, so it's also important to have a portable disaster kit to help you be prepared for anything, no matter where you are. You need to pack kits for your car and workplace, so you're ready at all times.

A family is shown playing a board game by the light from a battery-operated lantern. All the other lights in the house are out. The family is then shown packing more items into a kit as the narrator lists them off.

Narrator: In many cases, such as a chemical emergency, you may be directed to shelter in place. You need to be ready to protect yourself inside your dwelling: not just a kit for going, but a kit for staying. In addition to ample water and food, your home kit should include duct tape and plastic sheeting for making your home air-tight, fluorescent lanterns, flashlights, batteries, portable radio, and a regular phone with a cord long enough to reach a safe room. Finally, your kit isn't complete if it isn't up-to-date. Set a time every six months to rotate fresh food, water, and medications into your supplies. A good way to remember is to do this when daylight savings time begins and ends.

A woman is shown at a library computer.

Narrator: You can find many more details online at about what should go into your kit. You'll also find planning tools, checklists, contact numbers, and links to other government agencies throughout the region.

The Houston Emergency Operations Center is shown.

Narrator: Authorities in your area already have a plan in place for an emergency, but the success of their plan depends on you. Knowing what to do and what not to do can make a huge difference, so it's important that you stay informed.

The three-pillar animation is shown, with the focus on the third pillar: "Stay Informed." This is followed by the logo of KTRH 740AM Radio.

Narrator: Your best source of information during a disaster will be News Radio 740, KTRH 740 AM. This is the Houston area's primary emergency alert station.

A woman sits in a chair with a dog in her lap, listening to the radio. A man working on his computer looks up to listen to something he hears on the radio.

Narrator: In the event of an emergency, listen and wait for authorities to give specific instructions on what to do. Following these instructions will be the best course of action you can possibly take.

Local emergency responders are shown in action.

Narrator: During a disaster, emergency response personnel have a lot to deal with in a short time. They can do their jobs much more effectively if emergency channels and roadways are clear. You can help by staying in your home and only calling 9-1-1 if you have an immediate emergency.

Cars are shown stuck in traffic.

Narrator: As we saw with Hurricane Rita, evacuating an area this large and populated is extremely difficult without a coordinated and cooperative effort from all citizens. If an evacuation is ordered, do not make assumptions or take unrecommended actions.

A family discusses their evacuation plan.

Narrator: In the case of hurricanes, you can find out right now if you're in a storm surge evacuation zone and learn the appropriate routes and procedures for your area. Your main goal is staying informed and understanding the risks you and your family face in every situation.

A repeat of the sunrise scene and nature footage from the start of the film is seen.

Woman: I can't say enough about having a plan. It gave me peace of mind, just knowing that we were ready.

Another woman: Having our supply kit ready made a huge difference.

Man in Spanish (translated): The work we had done ahead of time has made my family safer.

We see all the families featured in the film standing together, smiling.

Narrator: Make a plan, build a kit, stay informed. Are you ready?

We cut to an animated Ready Houston logo.

Credits: Department of Homeland Security Grant Funded. Project of the Houston Urban Area Security Initiative Community Preparedness Committee: City of Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, City of Pasadena, METRO, Port of Houston Authority. Agency: Gilbreath Communications. Production Company: VT2 Studios. Special thanks to: American Red Cross Greater Houston; City of Houston HAS, HEC, HFD, HPD, OEM, DPSHS; Clear Creek Independent School District; Houston Independent School District; Linda MacDonald; Memorial Hermann Life Flight; NASA; Port of Houston Authority; Roberts Elementary, HISD; Robinson Elementary School, Clear Creek ISD; Rohm and Haas; Space Center Houston; The Weather Channel.

Ready Houston Logo.

End of film.