FREEPORT, Maine — Andrew Sachs sat in his Freeport living room Sunday morning watching cable news with rapt attention as Hurricane Harvey pummelled Houston.
Aside from concern for the state and its residents, Sachs monitored specific crises and took mental notes. When a levee failed in a Houston suburb, he saw more than water rushing into the city.
“What was going through my mind was what was actually being protected by the levee in terms of populations,” Sachs said Tuesday. “That quick look told me they were going to have problems with existing shelters and resource distributions … and what are some of the ways planning to get resources in [there] would be affected by the breach.”
In the next week or so, Sachs, a public safety and crisis consultant, will fly to Texas to help state and local government officials manage the aftermath of the catastrophe.
Harvey won’t be Sachs’ first hurricane: He worked as a consultant at several other companies prior to forming DCMC Partners with two other consultants. He was an adviser to the New Jersey governor during Superstorm Sandy, helped the state of Louisiana recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and in 2011 helped BP recover following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In 2014 and 2015, Sachs and two colleagues formed DCMC Partners, providing disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery services. The company also works on crisis management, helping companies and organizations prepare for such occurrences as “active shooters.”
The team hasn’t yet been retained by the Texas government, but with relatively few disaster consultants in the country, Sachs will head to Houston to help manage recovery efforts, including ensuring that hurricane response plans meet criteria set for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.
“There are very specific types of planning functions,” Sachs said Tuesday. “What do you actually want to fix? What are your priorities? What opportunities do you have to build back better, safer, stronger than before?”
DCMC Partners’ familiarity with the area hardest hit by Harvey will also assist them, Sachs said. During last year’s flooding, they worked for the cities of Houston and Galveston, the University of Texas medical branch on Galveston Island and the University of Texas at Houston, Sachs said.
The consultants won’t head to Houston yet, though. With lifesaving efforts still underway, “We don’t want to get in the way,” Sachs said.
After that, they’ll be in and out of the area, likely for months.
Flooding is nothing new for Houston, Sachs said, “but what makes this story unique and much more serious is we’re also having areas that may not have flooded in 80 or 90 years experiencing” serious flooding.