|Background and Description
A critique of emergency preparedness plans after the hurricanes of 2005
indicated the need for a system to communicate the staffing status
of each of the EHCMA plant sites to the local Offices of Emergency
Management (OEM). When a storm threatens the Houston/Galveston coastline,
OEMs at a city and county level are busy with a variety of duties as
they work to evacuate residents and ready their communities for landfall.
In the critique, it was recognized that in many cases, small ride-out
crews remain at the various industrial plant sites to care for and
respond to plant matters before, during, and after the storm. Up until
now, there has not been a good process for communicating the staffing
status of the EHCMA plants to the OEMs before, during and after a storm.
Knowing the staffing status of a plant site becomes critically important
to OEMs in the case where search and rescue efforts may be needed for
the ride-out crews based on wind damage and flooding that could occur
with a direct hit of a large and powerful hurricane.
The EHCMA organization responded to this critique
recommendation by creating the Hurricane Status Reporting System
(HSRS). HSRS, developed for EHCMA by Virtual ArchiTechs, Inc.,
is a web based program where each of the EHCMA member plant sites
can access the program via the internet to indicate their staffing
status before, during and after a hurricane. All OEMs in the EHCMA
outreach areas, including Harris County OEM, has access to the
program to monitor the staffing status of all EHCMA plant sites.
The system is designed such that all OEMs can see the staffing
status of all EHCMA plant sites, but individual EHCMA plant sites
cannot see the status of other EHCMA member plant sites. [Again,
the system only reports staffing status. The system is not designed
nor intended to communicate plant operational status. Operational
status is a private concern of a company not to be shared in a
As an additional feature, all OEMs can indicate their
staffing status in the system which is viewable by all EHCMA member
Participating Channel Industries Mutual Aid (CIMA)
member plant sites can indicate their CIMA response capability
so that CIMA Command can keep tabs on overall CIMA response capabilities
before, during and after a storm.
Also included is a message board for communicating
vital information across the system as it relates to a storm.
All EHCMA plant sites are expected to utilize the HSRS if a storm (hurricane)
places an imminent threat to the Houston/Galveston coastal region. EHCMA
members should begin updating the system with their staffing status two
to three days before predicted landfall and should keep the system updated
during and after the storm to the best of their ability.
During a storm, the system can be updated to indicate
the relocation of a ride-out crew to another safe haven located
either on or off their plant site.
As a first step, all EHCMA members should designate
one or more individuals at their plant site as having responsibility
for using the system.
Next, the designated individual at each plant site
should log on to the system and navigate the system to become familiar
with its features. Also, each plant should enter as much general
information as possible into the system in order to minimize information
gathering and input before a real storm threatens the area.
The HSRS is simple to use. A few minutes of navigation through the program
should be enough to familiarize the user with its functionality.
Thanks in advance for your cooperation and commitment to the use of this
program as a means of communication during a hurricane.
Mark W. Gaddy
EHCMA’s CECC Chairman
Plant Manager, Lyondell La Porte Complex