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Mayor Parker advises caution as Houston braces for a second winter storm

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Press conference in Rotunda of City Hall 4:30 PM Jan 27 2014
Press conference in Rotunda of City Hall 4:30 PM Jan 27 2014
photos by Marc Pembroke
Mayor Parker explains process for deciding whether to close City Offices Jan 27 2014
photo by Marc Pembroke

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On Monday Jan 27, Houston Mayor Annise Parker held a special press conference in the rotunda of City Hall to announce preparations for a another possible ice storm. The Mayor was accompanied by Police Chief McClleland, Fire Chief Garrison, and Public Works Director Krueger.

The Mayor explained that she had not yet made a decision on whether to close City Offices, as various local authorities, notably the Houston Independent Public Schools, were still monitoring and evaluating weather predictions.

The National Weather Service had issued a winter storm watch earlier, with possible ice conditions beginning in the afternoon in the Conroe area about 50 miles north of Houston.

Mayor Parker stated that the City planned to coordinate with the School system because closure of the schools while City Employees were required to work would impose an additional burden on parents.

Currently, freezing, dangerous conditions are expected in the northern parts of the city in mid to late morning. Under that scenario, the weather would not have a serious impact on the morning rush hour commute.

Dan Krueger, Director of the Department of Public Works, explained how the city was preparing for the storm with road treatments and prepositioning of equipment. He also noted that the City of Houston does not maintain the Interstate Highways, which are under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation. Most of the accidents in the storm the previous week occurred on the highways. The City is preparing to close access to roads to highways with dangerous conditions.

Police Chief McClleland advised motorists that if an accident occurs on the roads, HPD will prioritize situations where there are personal injuries, or when a vehicle is so disabled that it blocks traffic. Otherwise motorists were advised to take photos of the accident, of each vehicle, and of the drivers' license of the other driver. In addition, it is best to move the vehicle off the road as soon as possible, and to avoid standing near traffic.

Fire Chief Garrison reminded residents to be vigilant in using space heaters in cold weather, remembering the “3 foot rule” for keeping clothing, paper, and other flammable objects away from heaters. In addition, he emphasized the importance of making sure smoke detectors were functioning and that batteries were charged.

Mayor Parker stated that a final decision would be made around 8:00 PM

Following the press conference, Vice Mayor Ed Gonzalez gave interviews in Spanish to Telemundo and other Spanish media outlets summarizing the statements of the other officials.

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