Weston Lakes may only be about three years old as an incorporated city, but city officials have created their own Emergency Operations Center should a crisis situation, such as a hurricane, arise and affect members of the community. On Saturday, officials showed off that center to the public at an open house.
The center was set up at the Weston Lakes Country Club. Visitors got to see to see the emergency center’s general operating procedures and conference stations. The center is activated when any risk-management situation threatens residents, said Linda Newsome Johnson, public information officer for the city of Weston Lakes.
“We would go into full operation during the emergency and or crisis,” she said, noting people would be at the emergency center until the crisis has passed.
Don Munsch / Fort Bend Herald Weston Lakes Mayor Pro Tem Cliff Aldrich, left, points out something on a computer during an open house for the city’s Emergency Operations Center Saturday at the Weston Lakes Country Club. Pictured here with Aldrich are Weston Lakes Mayor Mary Rose Zdunkewicz, city public information officer Linda Newsome Johnson and (sitting) volunteers Linda Harnist, left, and Sally Bayard.
Visitors saw how news about the crisis situation would be transmitted on computers stations, a PowerPoint screen and television in a room at the emergency center demonstration. Maps also would be available in times of emergencies. A flow chart set up at the open house showed the chain of command for volunteers and city and local officials during an emergency.
Newsome Johnson said Saturday’s open house was an opportunity for volunteers to get familiar with the center and was “good test plan” for officials to see people work together. “We’ve taken the proactive steps to be prepared in the event of emergency,” Newsome Johnson said. “Many of the cities do not have access to the Web Emergency Operations Center or are as prepared as we are to have our own EOC.”
Mayor Mary Rose Zdunkewicz heads up the Emergency Operations Center during an emergency and Mayor Pro Tem Cliff Aldrich serves as the incident commander. Volunteers on the Community Emergency Response Teams provide assistance and can use golf carts during emergencies.
“The incident command (leader) is making sure that all the information that goes out is credible information, and then, of course is released once the mayor has improved everything,” Newsome Johnson said. “Nothing goes out without the mayor’s statement or approval.”
Aldrich said he hoped visitors learned that the city is committed to ensuring that, in an emergency, officials will respond to their needs and provide some services. A generator can provide electricity.
“We were kind of lucky (during Hurricane Ike) – we only had three days (of no electricity),” he said. “You think about the people in Houston. They were out of electricity for three weeks or four weeks. That surely was not fun, because it wasn’t fun for three days.”
The country club’s main building will be set up as a place for people to stay a short time during a crisis, including if they are waiting to be transferred to a medical facility, but Aldrich said it is not a shelter.
Visitors who attended the open house could pick up a hurricane information guide and Fulshear-Simonton-Weston Lakes resource booklets. Weston Lakes, with a population of 2,482 (2010 Census), contracts with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office for police services and Fulshear-Simonton Fire Department for fire protection.