If you lived in Southeast Texas in 2017, you'll never forget Hurricane Harvey.
The floods, the winds, the damage, and the selfless acts of heroism that arose from our community thanks to first responders and volunteers.
Now, in the wake of a historic natural disaster, we've just learned something we never thought was possible from our city's political leadership: our city's mayor told firefighters to stay home during Hurricane Harvey, according to a new report from Bill King.
In the midst of this mayhem, the City of Houston inexplicably ordered its off-duty fire fighters to stay home. Houston has about 4,000 firefighters, with about 850 on duty at any given time. The other roughly 3,000 off-duty officers are available to be called up for duty in the event of an emergency.
Just after noon on Sunday, August 27, the city sent out an email calling on Tier 1 employees, which includes fire fighters, to report for duty. But two hours later the City sent out another email saying that the previous email did not include fire fighters who were not already on duty. Later that day, County Judge Ed Emmett called for volunteers to assist with rescues, saying that government resources were exhausted, apparently unaware that the City had 3,000 fire fighters sitting at home. It was not until Tuesday that the City began calling in some of its off-duty fire fighters. Of course, by then most of the rescues had been made.
This is one of those stories that is so bizarre and so irrational that it is hard to believe. But it is true. The order to stay home was reported at the time by many media outlets. I have provided links to some of those below. And you can read the order yourself by clicking here.
This order unquestionably put lives at risk and delayed rescues. Turner has never offered any explanation for his order. Absent some rational explanation, this order was gross incompetence at best. But I fear there was a darker motivation at work.
Wow. Just wow. It's hard to imagine city leadership being so reckless but here we are, folks. Thank God for groups like the Cajun Navy and Houston's first responders.
PORT ARTHUR, TX - AUGUST 30: A Port Arthur fireman holds an evacuee after she was rescued from the flooding of Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017 in Port Arthur, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)