Three-day drill allowed officials to review steps

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

City of Alice and Jim Wells County officials said the Hurricane Brett scenario that took place over a three-day period was a test for the local Emergency Operations Command, and according to Texas Engineering Extension Service officials, the combined efforts proved effective.

"I felt that we had the organization in place and the proper people in place to accomplish what was needed," said Alice Fire Chief Dean Van Nest. "If this were an actual hurricane, the evacuation and the taking care of special needs individuals would have been successful. The overall feeling is that Alice and Jim Wells County would have been successful taking care of its people."

As the city continues to move forward, Van Nest said he is aware that there is room for improvement in the program.

"We're never really satisfied. We're always looking at ways to do better," Van Nest said.

Jim Wells County Emergency Management Coordinator and Precinct 3 Commissioner Wally Alanis said he was very pleased to report effective participation and coordination between the county, the cities and the school districts. He said they are ready to activate and execute preparations if the time arises.

"The representatives from TEEX, during our after action report, said they were very pleased with our performance. We had the answers and the resources. All the logistics were in place," Alanis said.

The representatives recommended the city and county add some equipment, Alanis said, specifically another satellite phone and ham radio.

"Everything else was in place, and they were very pleased with our actions," Alanis said.

The EOC has one satellite phone, and Alanis said a second would cost about $800.

In the event the phone lines go down during a hurricane, the EOC still has direct satellite connection through the phone for reliable communication.

"We spoke with suppliers and they're looking into the satellite phone. We have one already, but to be more effective we need the second phone. We already have the money in place," Alanis said.