From August 25 to August 31, the Cypress Creek Communications Center answered more than 12,000 calls, representing more than 5400 actual incidents, the majority of which were water rescue calls. The Comm Center handled 9-1-1 and dispatch for a total of 16 emergency agencies including fire departments along Cypress Creek and Spring Creek in North Harris County, two departments in the Katy Area, one in the Mission Bend area of SW Harris County and Pearland Fire and EMS.
At first, those departments had more calls that they had boats but after a call for civilian help from Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, people with boats began showing up in the CCEMS parking lot and other staging areas ready to go to work. With the help of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies embedded in our Emergency Operations Center we paired up boats with the fire and law enforcement departments who needed them until all the water rescue calls had been answered.
Here’s a look, by agency, at the number of calls. The total number of incidents was 5,426. During the same period one week earlier the total for all the agencies was 1834. That’s a 196% increase. There were multiple calls from different people on the some of the same incidents, so at one point the number of calls registered a 614% increase over normal call volume.
In additon to 9-1-1 calls, fire departments received direct requests for help. Once they entered a neighborhood to respond to a call, many others requested evacuation, too. So, the following numbers don’t represent ALL of the water rescues, just the ones that came in by telephone to the Comm Center. For example, we had 387 calls for ESD 48, but the fire department documented more than 1500 rescues. The following represents only the calls for help that came in through our comm center.
It was an extremely busy week for the call takers, dispatchers, and supervisors in the Comm Center and the Senior Supervisors in our (EOC) Emergency Operations Center. Call takers, dispatchers, and their supervisors worked, slept and ate at the Comm Center until the call volume dropped back into the normal range.Classrooms in the CCEMS Education Center were turned into dorm rooms with cots for the extra field crews.
Although most of the 9-1-1 calls were for water rescues, there was also an elevated number of calls for ambulances. The calls included chest pains, cardiac arrests, and babies who weren’t going to wait for the water to go down to be born.
The EOC created an online map of impassible areas and helped route ambulances around high water to get to patients AND to get patients to hospitals. At one point only the northbound lanes of I-45 were open to take patients to the trauma center at Memorial Hermann Woodlands, so we had to use a police escort and go the wrong way on I-45 with lights and sirens to return to our territory. CCEMS scouts were sent out periodically to report back on what areas were still impassable and what areas were not and we constantly compared notes with law enforcement on road conditions and updated our online map.
We would like to thank the businesses, clubs, and individuals who took the time out to make sure our personnel had hot meals. After the rain slowed down, H-E-B re-stocked our stations at no charge. At one point, so many people wanted to help that we had to go on social media and let everyone know that we had plenty of food for the time being.
The amount of rain was historic and there was historic generosity to match it. We can’t tell you how grateful we are for the support we were shown.