Harvey’s Lessons Include Evidence That Fire And Police Agencies Need More Resources, Training

An amendment to fund more flooding resources was brought up to the Houston City Council after intense flooding in 2015, but the measure was voted down.

By Jill AmentOctober 2, 2017 5:12 pm

In the flood-prone city of Houston, still recovering from the deluge of Hurricane Harvey, the fire department has just one high-water rescue vehicle. Three major flooding events in the past three years have demonstrated the unpreparedness of the Houston Fire Department for flooding, both in resources and training.

St. John B. Smith, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, has been looking into problems created by Harvey that may have been avoidable if previous warnings had been heeded. He says that Houston’s history of flooding led to several internal reviews and reports that indicated how much more resources and training the fire and police departments need if they are to combat future flooding.

“I talked to Sam Peña, the fire chief, just before that story went live, and he made a really good point,” Smith says.

“Their budget represents how much the City of Houston is willing to buy down risk and whether or not they’ll see investment, that’s really the major question. Whether or not there will be the political will to provide more resources to the fire department and the police department.”


Written by Rachel Zein and Nahila Bonfiglio.