According to the National Weather Service, about 100 tropical disturbances roam the open Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico every year. Of these, an estimated 10 will become tropical storms and six will become hurricanes.
Since EHCMA was founded in 1987, there have been a total of 32 hurricanes and 27 tropical storms across Texas. If a hurricane directly hit the Houston Ship Channel, it would affect the largest petrochemical manufacturing hub.
EHCMA provides a unique opportunity for the industry to come together to advocate for common issues across the region, including emergency preparedness for the community in which we live.
EHCMA member companies practice strong risk management policies and procedures year-round and employ state-of-the-art technologies to operate safely, but special precautions are put into place during hurricane season, which runs June to November. EHCMA members frequently share safety tips and best practices to help make the industry safer as a whole in case of a disaster.
In addition to working with each other, EHCMA member companies stay in constant communication with local authorities in advance of a storm. City officials attend plant and civic committees to give hurricane preparedness presentations, and the industry and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) provide city sirens, safety initiatives and programs in public places around the region.
“It’s great to have a cooperative, open relationship with the industry, especially in advance of a potential storm,” said Lt. Marshall Hutton of the Baytown Fire Department. “Every industry organization we work with clearly has its employees and citizens of the community at the forefront of decisions.”
In a team effort between industry and local agencies, EHCMA supports a $15 billion coastal barrier system, which would help protect the Houston area from a devastating storm. The coastal barrier would install floodgates at the entrance to Galveston Bay and extend Galveston’s seawall the entire length of the island.
Recently, Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush requested federal funding for this coastal protection initiative in a letter cosigned by 60 Texas leaders, including EHCMA Executive Director Craig Beskid. Other co-signers were members of Texas Legislature, 21 coastal mayors, six county judges and 24+ members of the business and education communities.
Beskid says, “Not only are the people here in this region at risk [of a hurricane], but significant statewide economic assets and national assets are also at risk.”
The Port of Houston is the country’s second busiest port. It provides $600B a year in direct output to the U.S. economy, provides more than 3 million direct and indirect jobs nationwide, is responsible for more than half the country’s jet fuel, is home to 29 percent of the country’s oil refiners and much more.
Hurricane Ike, the third most devastating hurricane in U.S. history caused almost $30B in damage in 2008. The coastal protection initiative proposed would be built to a 100-year event standard, which would have prevented 87% of the damages incurred by Hurricane Ike.
It is imperative to prepare the coast as much as possible before another major storm inevitably hits the East Harris County coast, which EHCMA is helping to make possible. As it has for the past 30 years, EHCMA members will continue to closely work with each other and local agencies to support the health, safety, security and economic well-being of East Harris County.
Note: EHCMA also encourages members of the communities to stay prepared in case of an emergency. Read how to prepare for an emergency event at EHCMA.org/emergency-preparedness/.