Texas Schools’ Role in the Event of Hurricanes
Whenever Texas has faced a natural disaster, our school leaders have always played an important role in serving their fellow Texans and in striving to restore normalcy in the face of chaos. Given our state’s history with devastating hurricanes, I’d like to address the potential use of school buses or facilities in the event of an evacuation related to an approaching catastrophic hurricane or other unforeseen hazard.
The evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area may be recommended by the Governor or may be ordered by the county judge or mayor of a municipality with local jurisdiction and authority if necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery (Sections. 418.017 and 418.108(f), Government Code).
Lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dean and Ike have shown there will be individuals who lack transportation and will need to be evacuated from surge zones prior to the arrival of tropical storm winds. To do so may require the use of public school buses. In addition, the use of school facilities may be necessary in some situations to provide adequate temporary shelter for evacuees.
School administrators and designated Education Service Center personnel are urged to work closely with local first responders and emergency management directors in their areas to ensure public school resources are made available in the event that a disaster may require the need of public school buses for evacuation and/or school facilities for temporary shelter. In the event of a hurricane, these public school resources can play a critical role in protecting the life and well-being of Texans in catastrophic conditions.
Michael L. Williams
Commissioner of Education