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Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management 2020 Annual Report: “A Year Like No Other”

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HCOHSEM had a strong year in spite of the global challenges presented by COVID-19. – In a year of unprecedented challenges with the outbreak of the Coronavirus – the greatest test of our organization – HCOHSEM responded with flexibility, resilience, and commitment.

Last year, Harris County activated its Emergency Operation Center 22 times and received 2,066 media inquiries and 11,378 broadcast, social media, and web communications. HCOHSEM also took part in more than 1,873 meetings with external partners.

“I cannot be prouder of our team. Each member of this office has been challenged personally and professionally by the constant, changing demands of this response,” said Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan. “Their high-quality work is a tribute to their dedication to our residents, and I am inspired by them.”

Throughout 2020, HCOHSEM staff worked to assist Harris County Public Health (HCPH) with their early testing sites, data visualization tools, public service announcements (PSAs) and other items that focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19. To reach underserved communities, the PSAs were subtitled in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Arabic.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the busiest in history. The season produced 29 tropical depressions, of which 28 became tropical storms and 12 became hurricanes, including five major hurricanes. In late August and September 2020, Tropical Storms Laura and Beta headed to the Gulf of Mexico, prompting a wave of warnings and watches in Harris County. HCOHSEM activated a total of four days to support response working with the federal government, the City of Houston, and other local governments in the region while continuously responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HCOHSEM also developed and launched several campaigns to increase awareness of disaster preparedness. The Ready Harris Kids campaign introduced Olivia, the Preparedness Opossum, in an activity book, which focused on preparing young children for emergencies at home and school. The activity book is available online in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

HCOHSEM’s Annual Report provides insight into the statistics, stories, and the unwavering dedication of our staff and partners to the Harris County community we serve.

A printed version is expected to be available on September 7, 2021. The 2020 Annual Report is available at http://bit.ly/ReadyHarrisAR2020