Most of Houston is located on the gulf coastal plain where severe flooding is common. When Hurricane Harvey hit, it inundated America’s fourth-largest city with over 50 inches of rain and impacted more than 300,000 housing units. More homes flooded in Houston during Hurricane Harvey than in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Accordingly, Houston placed fifth on a list of the 10 riskiest American cities for natural disasters. Two other Texas cities, Austin (second) and Dallas (fourth), also made the list.
The City of Houston has been proactive in preparing for natural disasters. Its Public Health Emergency Preparedness Team participated in the annual City of Houston Evacuation Hub Exercise. The Houston Health Department posted this video depicting the exercise.
The simulation pretends that there is a hurricane coming. People are put on buses and evacuated to San Antonio or Dallas.
The health department’s role is to handle registration.
“The process they go through is the people come in and our staff says, ‘We’re going to take some information from you,’” said Peter Stranges of the Houston Health Department. “They are asked basic questions about health, as well as whether they are traveling with relatives or pets.”
“If they have medical needs, we address those as well. If they need to get on a bus with a wheelchair or an oxygen tank, we handle all those accommodations.”
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The health department uses LanguageLine Video Interpreting to communicate with residents who are limited English proficient, deaf, or hard-of-hearing.
“If they have language needs, we address those,” Stranges said. “Through LanguageLine, health department staff can have access to certified medical interpreters via video.”
LanguageLine also provides on-demand, one-touch video interpretation in more than 40 spoken languages, including American Sign Language. It also delivers audio-only interpretation in more than 240 languages.
“It’s just nice knowing that in public health you’re involved in ensuring the health and welfare of our neighbors and playing an important role during a crisis,” Stranges said. “It’s very meaningful work.”
LanguageLine has been the world leader in innovative language-access solutions since 1982. The company sets the global standard for phone, video, and onsite interpreting, as well as translation of the written word. LanguageLine is trusted by more than 30,000 clients to enable communication with the limited English proficient, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing communities. LanguageLine provides the industry’s fastest and most dependable access to more than 35,000 professional linguists in 290-plus languages — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.