In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey’s category 4 wind-speed produced more than 60 inches of rain across affected areas of the Gulf of Mexico region, including the states of Texas and Louisiana.1 The Houston Zoo implemented a written hurricane response protocol and a storm ride-out team consisting of a small number of representatives from each department including animal care, facilities, maintenance, security, and food service resided at the zoo for the duration of the storm. Staff and animal safety were maintained, though several buildings and landscaping sustained water damage. The veterinarian’s role during the storm was to treat hospitalized patients, be available for emergency medical response, monitor clinic building integrity, and assist in other areas of the zoo as needed. Following the storm, successes and areas of improvement were identified. The written hurricane response protocol was revised and shared with staff. The overall keys to response success is having a written protocol, supply preparation before storm landfall, a dedicated ride-out crew, clear communication with a chain of command, a post-storm review of areas for improvement, and written protocol revision.
The authors would like to thank the dedicated staff of the Houston Zoo for their outstanding support during Hurricane Harvey.
1. Blake ES, Zelinsky DA. Hurricane Harvey. National hurricane and tropical cyclone report [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 Mar 17]. Available from www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL092017_Harvey.pdf