Most days you won’t see them — and with any luck, you’ll never have to. But when disaster strikes, Arlington’s Emergency Management team is ready to spring into action.
“I’ve said many times that we’re paid to be the most paranoid people in Arlington,” said Irish Hancock, emergency management administrator for the City of Arlington. “We generally try to think of what are the gaps that need to be filled.”
When they’re not responding to tornadoes or coordinating resources for big events like the Final Four, they’re working around the clock to come up with every kind of emergency response plan conceivable. They also look for ways emergencies can be avoided altogether.
The area near Rush Creek in West Arlington is one example of that. In 2010, a neighborhood along the creek was badly flooded. After the incident, the city used money from FEMA to purchase many of those properties. The houses were demolished and the land is being turned into a park.
“When Rush Creek floods again, those locations won’t be impacted nearly as substantially as they were,” said Hancock.
The department’s work was recently recognized in a big way.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the organization that was first to get it in our region, the second to get it in the state of Texas, and the sixth to get it in the nation,” said Kwaheri Harris, emergency management coordinator for the City of Arlington.
They received EMAP accreditation — meaning they met 64 of the highest standards and practices as set by the nation’s leading experts in emergency management. Only five other cities and just a few dozen state and county governments have ever been awarded this designation.
“I have no doubt in my mind that we can respond [to emergencies] as professionally and efficiently as possible,” said Hancock.
The accreditation is good for five years. Hancock said his team will use it as motivation to continue upping their game.
Austin is the only other city in Texas with EMAP accreditation. Arlington is working with several cities in the Metroplex to help them earn it as well.