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Public Health Surveillance in a Large Evacuation Shelter Post Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas coast on August 25th, 2017 as a Category 4 storm. It is estimated that the ensuing rainfall caused record flooding of at least 18 inches in 70% of Harris County. Over 30,000 residents were displaced and 50 deaths occurred due to the devastation. At least 53 temporary refuge shelters opened in various parts of Harris County to accommodate displaced residents. On the evening of August 29th, Harris County and community partners set up a 10,000 bed mega-shelter at NRG Center, in efforts to centralize refuge efforts. Harris County Public Health (HCPH) was responsible for round-the-clock surveillance to monitor resident health status and prevent communicable disease outbreaks within the mega-shelter. This was accomplished through direct and indirect resident health assessments, along with coordinated prevention and disease control efforts. Despite HCPH’s 20-day active response, and identification of two relatively small but potentially worrisome communicable disease outbreaks, no large-scale disease outbreaks occurred within the NRG Center mega-shelter.


1) Describe HCPH’s disease surveillance and prevention activities within the NRG Center mega-shelter;

2) Present surveillance findings with an emphasis on sharing tools that were developed and may be utilized for future disaster response efforts;

3) Discuss successes achieved, challenges encountered, and lessons learned from this emergency response.

Submitted by elamb on