President’s Perspective

The Texas Medical Center is prepared for hurricane season

The TMC has learned from its own history


William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center. William F. McKeon, President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)
By William F. McKeon | June 25, 2019

For coastal communities like Houston, the start of summer is accompanied by trepidation about hurricane season. But rest assured, if and when the storms arrive, the Texas Medical Center will be prepared. After all, just a few years ago we were tested—and our medical city performed valiantly, operating even in the face of historic rainfall.

That wasn’t always the case. Nearly two decades ago, Tropical Storm Allison devastated the Texas Medical Center. Water inundated most of our hospitals and we lost more than $2 billion in research at flooded laboratories.

Importantly, we learned lessons from Allison and quickly recognized the need to fortify. We spent considerable time and resources building walls around our hospitals and research facilities. We raised all of the electrical vaults in our buildings and installed storm doors throughout our medical city. In total, we invested more than $50 million in infrastructure designed to ensure our campus never again experiences the magnitude of devastation that Tropical Storm Allison brought.

Several years later, in 2017, our efforts were put to the ultimate test when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and dumped more rain than any other storm in American history. Thanks to our advancements in weather forecasting technology, doctors, nurses and administrators had time to get to the medical center before the roads leading to campus became impassable. Thanks to our infrastructure investments, the storm doors held tight and every hospital continued to provide care without interruption.

Today, we constantly monitor storm activities, as flash floods are all too common in Houston. We also continue to invest in physical infrastructure and emergency preparedness planning. As the statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Of course, we don’t know what the 2019 hurricane season will bring. But we do know our history—and we’ve learned from it. If the storms come again this year, we’ll be prepared.

Willian McKeon
President and CEO
Texas Medical Center




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