USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness at the HSC-School of Rural Public Health creating registry on Hurricane Ike for sharing ideas and suggestions about preparedness, response and recovery

February 17, 2009

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — As officials look for ways to improve hurricane preparedness and emergency response procedures, they recognize the value of soliciting the public for their input on lessons learned from Hurricane Ike.

The USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health – in collaboration with local, state and federal partners – has initiated a new project that will allow individuals to share their ideas and suggestions with decision-makers.

Known as “HikeR,” the Hurricane Ike Registry is the creation of a registry of individuals who have volunteered to contribute their thoughts and opinions regarding improvements to emergency planning and public safety.

Over the next five years, the USA Center will use this registry to invite members of the public to participate in activities and research studies. These projects will focus on gleaning information from the public’s evacuation from, shelter during and recovery after the storm. Information from these projects will be used to help improve future preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for hurricanes and other disasters.

In particular, the USA Center and its partners will be studying ways to improve response efforts as they apply to public health. After Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast in September 2008, there were many public health challenges. These challenges included the need for widespread community immunizations, supplying potable water, deteriorating conditions due to sewage and septic system failures, and removal of dead animals along with large piles of debris.

By agreeing to be part of the registry, participants are acknowledging their willingness to be notified about future activities and research studies. Individuals can ask to be removed from the registry at any time. All contact information will be securely stored and will not be shared with other parties. All offers to participate in activities will be made by and through the USA Center.

Requirements to participate include: participants be 18 years of age or older; participants have been affected by Hurricane Ike; and participants have completed a written or online participant contact information form.

If you have questions or would like to participate in the registry call toll-free (866) 964-0857.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell