Hurricane Harvey Anniversary: UTHealth Safety VP Talks About Preparation and Response

Expert Pitch


How do you prepare for one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever strike the United States? Fifty-two inches of rain in just three days? It’s not easy but that’s the job of Robert Emery, Dr.P.H., the vice president for safety, health, environment and risk management at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Emery orchestrated the university’s preparations for the massive hurricane that made landfall on Aug. 25, 2017 and afterward directed the cleanup effort. The university sustained minimal damage but the Texas Medical Center was surrounded by water, making it nearly impossible for physicians and other critical personnel to relieve ride-out crews.

Emery can talk about the following:

  • Flood waters can be lethal including dangers of infection, electrocution and venomous animals.
  • High water vehicles and shallow boats are crucial.
  • The internet won’t be reliable and text messaging for employees and patients alike is the best form of communication, not email or via websites.
  • How to know when it’s safe to go back into a building.
  • What to do with flood-exposed materials.