When James Hannan ’09 (MAT ’10) started a new job with the Harris County Ofﬁce of Homeland Security & Emergency Management in January 2021, he expected a hurricane or ﬂood would be the ﬁrst emergency to activate the team. His was a new position, and he had just started to understand his role when the team received its ﬁrst activation. The gulf, however, was not swirling. Instead, the coldest temperatures in more than 30 years were moving across Texas and into the Greater Houston area.
The team was alerted to expect a multi-day activation, and colleagues shared tips on what Jamie would need for 24-hour life in the ofﬁce. His experiences as an ACtivator and church Youth Director gave him some insight on what would help with some parts of that packing for comfort. Good thing; he was at the ofﬁce for ﬁve days and four nights, followed by another week of 12-hour days as his team moved from response to recovery.
Jamie’s work doesn’t take him into the street for rescues and responses. His team’s work is more behind the scenes: research that aids in planning and improvement, testing processes, tracking legislation, drafting and submitting presentation proposals—working with other groups that ensure people have resources, providing needed information for those boots-on-the-ground emergency team members.
While Jamie was at the ofﬁce, his wife, Katie Senor Hannan ’12, and their 3-year-old daughter, Abigail, were at home. Fortunately, their home is in the 10% of Texas that is not part of the ERCOT-regulated grid and was without power for only about 18 hours—and has a gas ﬁreplace that kept them warm. Abigail enjoyed making her ﬁrst snowman and “camping” in the living room while wondering why Daddy didn’t come home.
A week later, President Joseph Biden and other officials visited the Harris County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing on the recovery and to thank the team. COVID distancing protocols and security standards meant a limited number of people were allowed in the room so Jamie didn’t get very close to the president. Still, he was quite proud to see his colleagues recognized for what he can confirm truly was a harrowing emergency.