This time of year, many Galvestonians become armchair meteorologists. We watch the weather and seek out sources of information when it comes to hurricanes and major storms that develop in the tropics and in the Gulf.
Like many organizations, the park board has a crisis communications plan that specifically addresses what staff will do and when they’ll do it in advance of a storm. Although it’s nice when years go by and the plans aren’t used, sometimes the inevitable happens. Recently, the plan was put into action when Tropical Storm/Hurricane Nicholas made landfall near Galveston. Thanks to the coordination with city of Galveston officials in outward messaging and prep work on the ground, island residents and business owners were as prepared as they could be for the storm.
Part of the preparation plans for many organizations and households include having an official hurricane plan. The park board updates its plan each year and convenes with essential staff months before hurricane season begins. Included in the plan are duties to be performed by staff members before, during and after a major storm. A communications and media outreach strategy also is included in the plan.
Once it became clear Nicholas would bring high tides and winds to the island — days before landfall — the plan was put into practice. Park board coastal zone management crews removed 2,500 trash cans from the beaches to keep them from blowing onto nearby property. The crews helped Galveston’s beach patrol remove lifeguard towers from the beaches to place in storage. About a dozen towers will be set out again for the remainder of the summer season. Beach park managers shored up their equipment in advance of the storm as well, moving items to higher ground. Next steps for the park board involve damage assessment, cleanup and repairs.
“It’s gratifying to see our staff — especially those under the leadership of Chief Peter Davis — execute the hurricane plan in real time under tough conditions,” park board CEO Kelly de Schaun said. “I consider myself fortunate to work in tandem with city officials who have displayed true stamina amid this storm and the pandemic in order to make the well-being of island residents a priority.”
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St. in Galveston.