Monday, October 20, 2014

This is What We Do in Huntsville

Emergencies never come at a convenient time, and the fire at Parkview Senior Community on October 3rd was no exception.

Jennifer Graves, Huntsville High School Assistant Principal and District Emergency Team Co-Leader 


The Huntsville Fire department responded to the call around 4 p.m..  The firefighters confirmed that the facility's safety sprinklers had worked and the fire was extinguished.  Then they were posed with a sensitive logistical problem:  how to safely transport and shelter the over forty seniors displaced by water damage due to the sprinklers.

One Call Does it All:
Huntsville ISD's David Baker (Transportation Coordinator) and Tim Hooks (Director of Transportation)
Mr. Baker got behind the wheel himself to get the job done.


Many of the folks were mobility impaired, which required that transportation provide wheel chair lift equipment, and other folks had important medications that could not be left behind.  There were even a few therapy animals that needed to brought along.

Who did the fire department call? Tim Hooks, our Director of Transportation and HISD's designated co-manager for Red Cross shelters.

Four of Huntsville & Walker County's Bravest:
Firefighters (L-R) Stephen Rosenberger, Chase Wood, Theo Meisel and Brandon Kolaja.
(Brandon was on the responding team at Parkview)

That one call did it all, as it began a series of actions that lead to the displaced seniors having a hot BBQ meal at the storm shelter at the H.E.A.R.T.S Veterans' Museum within a little over an hour after that conversation.

Huntsville's Veterans' Complex, which is home of the The H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum of Texas,
the Veterans Conference Center and the Walker County Storm Shelter.

It didn't matter that it was late on a Friday afternoon right during the time when buses are out on routes, that this was the day of out of town Volleyball and Football games requiring the use of 13 buses, OR that our school staff had already begun their weekend.

Tim called fellow co-manager of HISD Red Cross Shelters (and Huntsville High School Assistant Principal) Jennifer Graves, and she reached out to our employee volunteers while Tim and Transportation Coordinator David Baker worked on buses and drivers.

Transportation's Leroy Bryant, Bobby Davison, Anthony Griffin, Clarence Griffin Ethel James and Patty Lolley all stepped in to safely drive these folks to the shelter.

Sally Dowis (District Social Worker), Stacy Godby (Huntsville High Teacher),  Anthony Griffin, Clarence Griffin, Ethel James,  Dr. Rosa Martinez (Principal of Gibbs PreK), Sherry Odom (Superintendent's secretary, Administration) and Shelley Petkovsek (Mance Park Teacher) all arrived at the shelter to help Tim and Jennifer get the displaced seniors signed in, situated and fed.  



Joe Godby, Huntsville Student and Huntsville Volunteer.


Also, Huntsville students also pitched in to help, including Joe Godby, Benjamin Saumell, Isabel Saumell and William Saumell.  Much later in the evening, Jan Moore (Mance Park) took over for the late night shift.


Late Night Volunteer and Mance Park Teacher Jan Moore

By noon the next day, the residents of Parkview were either back in their apartments or with family and friends and the shelter was ready to be cleaned and closed!


Everything is getting repaired and back to normal at Parkview Senior Community.

In a situation such as this one, Huntsville ISD works closely with Butch Davis and the Walker County Emergency Team and Walker County CERT.  Walker County EMS had two paramedics on site at the shelter, and Huntsville's Police Department handled security.  The Red Cross came up from Montgomery County.

Each member of this multi-agency team provides essential support.

Our district, and our employees, are ready to help.

They have done so in major ways during the  past (both Jennifer and Tim spent 10 days at the shelter when Hurricane Ike hit back in 2008), and they will do so again when they get the call.

This is what we do in Huntsville- this is our town, and this is our school.

Huntsville Independent School District, Huntsville ISD, Matthew Lahey


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