August 30, 2017

As We Begin Rebuilding

After two days of telling you we were still in response mode as Harvey stubbornly refused to leave us, I’m happy to report we have officially transitioned to the recovery phase.  The EOC is no longer a 24-hour operation, but of course emergency dispatch is always there and our normal public safety shifts have resumed.  While the Greater Houston area is draining nine trillion gallons of water and will be for weeks to come, the imminent threat of a repeat flooding situation in Bellaire has passed and we are now able to safely begin the process of rebuilding our homes and our lives.

Some things you need to know:

August 29, 2017

Volunteer Relief Effort Getting Underway

At this time the City is still focusing on emergency response and is not yet transitioning to the recovery phase.  Our available resources, including personnel, are operating at full capacity.  However, we know that so many of you are wanting to help your neighbors in need that manpower isn’t going to be a problem.

Volunteers are coming together to organize a coordinated Bellaire relief effort.  It’s being led entirely by them and not by the City, but we are making available a meeting room at the Rec Center, 7008 5th St., to receive donations of items listed below and for volunteer check-in.

Beginning the Transition to Recovery

Finally, some good news.  We’re not quite there yet, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The overnight elevation data from Brays Bayou says it all:

As we saw yesterday, however, the Bayou’s receding can be two steps forward, one step back as further rains fill it up again.  Plus, the unfathomable amount of water upstream of us still to work its way through the system will keep levels above normal for quite some time to come.

August 28, 2017

Your Bellaire Emergency Operations Center

This afternoon I had an opportunity for a quick visit with our EOC personnel.  They’re working nonstop on 12-hour rotations, but in great spirits and clearly taking pride in the job they’re doing for our community.  They told me they know how much we all appreciate them … but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell them again.

It’s a big team involving every city department.  First responders from Police and Fire, along with the Public Works crews, are most visible out in the field.  Back at the EOC they’ve got administrative and logistics support from the City Manager’s office, Parks & Rec, Library, Finance and others.  Everyone is doing their part.

How You Can Help

A quick follow-up to my post from earlier this morning.  Now that flood waters have receded to more manageable levels, I’ve continued receiving a great many offers of help.  Again, thanks to all of you.  When times are at their worst, Bellaire is at its best.

Right now we’re still in response and rescue mode.  With the National Weather Service predicting additional rain through Thursday, we’re not out of the woods just yet.  This event is ongoing, and given the risk that potentially heavy rains will lead to a repeat flooding situation we cannot transition to recovery mode and return to normal operations at this time.

In Southdale and Other Hardest-Hit Areas, Another Long Night

Families all over Bellaire have been stranded in their homes, with the highest number reported in Southdale, which has experienced the most severe flooding.  Many of you in other low-lying areas are stuck as well.  Yesterday we received more than 1,750 calls for rescue.  To those still waiting, we haven’t forgotten about you.  Please hang in there just a bit longer.

The first rescue operations prioritized the elderly and disabled, and those with life-threatening emergencies.  Among them were a paraplegic resident who had water up to the top of his bed, a baby on medical equipment with a depleting battery, an insulin-dependent diabetic stranded without food, and others with serious medical conditions.  We successfully got them all to safety.  The other primary focus yesterday was on single-story homes with dangerously high levels of flooding, in which residents couldn’t simply run upstairs to get out of the rising water.

August 27, 2017

Harvey Flood Response Update

Unfortunately the situation has only gotten worse today, and it’ll be a while before it improves.  If you’ve made it to safety, please hang in there but be prepared for the possibility it’ll be a couple days as we’re expecting more rain tonight.  If you’re in need of rescue, first responders are out in high water vehicles and boats, but conditions are making it very difficult for them to get to everyone quickly.  They’re doing everything they can and then some.  If you’re able to help your neighbors until first responders can get to you, please do.

Life-threatening emergencies remain our top priority and should be reported to 911.  Non-emergency phone lines are overwhelmed with calls, so please be patient and try back if you cannot get through right away.  The Bellaire EOC non-emergency hotline is (713) 662-8206.

I know many of you are concerned about Bellaire’s water supply.  Our drinking water is safe.  However, the wastewater treatment plant and lift stations are struggling as the sanitary sewers have been inundated with storm water intrusion.  There’s not much Public Works can do about that until the flood waters begin to recede.  You can help by limiting unnecessary sewer discharge including toilets and showers.  Again, drinking water remains safe.

The EOC command staff is distributing important information as it becomes available, online and through the Notify Me e-mail system.  Please consult the City website,, for announcements.

Neighbors helping neighbors is now more important than ever.  We’re all in this together.

Together We’ll Get Through This; For Now Just Be Safe

I’m sure very few in Bellaire actually slept last night, but those who did have woken up to the devastating reality of Harvey’s unrelenting rains throughout our area, producing unprecedented levels of flooding.  This is worse than Memorial Day and Tax Day, and depending on what happens over the next few days the impact to Bellaire will likely exceed that of Tropical Storm Allison.

I’ve heard from many of you already this morning, either in search of assistance or offering to help.  For now, emergency officials are advising us to stay put.  Your home is the safest place to be, even if you’ve taken on water.  Just remember to turn off your electricity at the panel if flood waters are nearing outlets.  Go upstairs if you have a second story, or to a neighbor’s if you can get there safely.

Do not venture out onto the roadways.  You won’t get very far, and even if you think you can make it down the street you’ll only send a wake into your neighbors’ homes.  Please just stay where you are.  For life-threatening emergencies call 911.  You may contact the Bellaire Emergency Operations Center at (713) 662-8206 for non-emergencies, but be patient as we are receiving a very high volume of calls.

Harvey is proving so significant an event that some houses that have never flooded will.  For others of you, this will be your second or third time in just the past few years.  It’s beyond frustrating and stressful, and we know we have a long road ahead of us.  But please take it one step at a time.  Today, and over the next several days, our priority is keeping you safe.  We’re all in this together, and together we’ll get through it.

August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Declaration

Today I have issued a disaster declaration in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey and its potential damaging effects within the City.  The Bellaire Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is working closely with other area agencies in preparing for landfall and for a coordinated response in its aftermath.

As you know, in Bellaire we are blessed with an experienced, dedicated team of professionals who are well trained for major events like this and stand ready to assist you and your families.  Not only our first responders in Police and Fire, but also in Public Works, the City Manager’s office, and across all city departments.  Essential personnel have made arrangements to remain in Bellaire through the weekend for rapid response when called upon.  Be assured we’re in good hands.

Please take care of yourselves, your family and your property.  Remember not to put out garbage bags (after this morning’s pick up) until further notice, as they can often float away and clog the storm drains.  Be on the lookout for and secure other debris, as well.  You are encouraged not to leave any vehicles parked in the street and to move them to higher ground.

Be safe, be patient, and let’s help one another as neighbors in weathering this storm.

August 9, 2017

2017 Citizen Survey Establishes Benchmark

Earlier this year the City initiated a broad citizen survey, to get a sense of how we’re doing in providing services and an aggregate view of residents’ sentiments about their community.  The survey was overseen by the University of Houston Master of Public Administration program, which analyzed the findings in a detailed statistical report.  While we did learn some things we can put to immediate use, the real value of this inaugural survey is in establishing a benchmark for tracking our performance over time through periodic future surveys.