Skip to Content

DATE: December 2, 2016 12:00:16 AM CST

City of Houston Evacuation Center Exercise

HOUSTON - As we enter the most active part of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, the City of Houston continues to work to improve the processes that help keep Houstonians safe when disasters strike.  One of the key elements of a hurricane response is managing the need to assist individuals without the ability to evacuate themselves get out of harm's way.  

On Friday, August 26th, the City of Houston hosted an annual evacuation center exercise which simulated the need to provide evacuation assistance to individuals within mandatory evacuation areas the City of Houston and unincorporated Harris County. Held at the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center in east Houston, the exercise simulated the intake, registration, tracking and transportation of affected residents to reception centers and shelters located in other parts of the State.  

City agencies participating in the exercise included:

  • Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department
  • BARC Animal Shelters & Adopions
  • Houston Fire Department
  • Houston Health Department
  • Office of Emergency Management
  • Mayor's Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security
  • Houston Police Department

Partnering agencies included:

  • Metropolitan Transit Authority of Houston/Harris County (METRO)
  • Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC)
  • Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross
  • Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Volunteers from area Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) simulated evacuees with various access and functional needs, to help better inform the City's planning for members of the whole community. 

Residents who might need assistance evacuating in a hurricane, or who have an access or functional need which may limit their ability to meet their own needs in a disaster should register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) by calling 211 (VRS: 877-541-7905) or online at

Photos from the event can be found on the OEM Facebook page at


During the exercise, deaf participants were provided with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, to ensure equal access to evacuation assistance.

During the exercise, participants simulated bringing animals to the evacuation center. In an actual emergency, animals who are not service animals must be confined to a crate during travel. Residents are urged to make sure they have a sufficient carrier before arriving.

The exercise simulated the use of a statewide evacuee tracking system designed to help provide accountability and increased visibility of evacuations across Texas.
Funded by a Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security