Much learned after mock evacuation drill

HARLINGEN — The largest mass evacuation drill in history has taught local officials a few lessons.

Communication needs to improve among the more than 40 agencies that took part in the June 8 exercise at Valley International Airport, Tom Hushen, Cameron County’s emergency management coordinator, said yesterday.

The operation airlifted about 300 volunteers playing the roles of patients and fleeing residents.

Meanwhile, he said, officials need to better track property belonging to evacuees.

“That’s what this whole drill’s about — what to do to improve,” Hushen said.

Later this month, state and local officials will hold a conference call to review findings of the drill, he said.

The drill surrounded a scenario in which a Category 4 hurricane with a strong storm surge targeted the Rio Grande Valley.

San Benito High School served as a makeshift shelter in which residents underwent health screenings. From there, vehicles carried “patients” requiring medical care to Valley Baptist Medical Center, where they were bused to Valley International.

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