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Katy hires emergency management coordinator

September 4, 2018

Katy’s new emergency management coordinator, Gregory Goedecker brings eight years of experience in the emergency management field to his position, including a stint tracking people and resources in the aftermath of the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon/BP MC252 drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

That explosion killed 11 workers, sank the rig and led to what is considered the largest oil spill ever.

Katy City Council on Aug. 27 authorized the mayor to sign an emergency management director/coordinator notification appointing Goedecker to the position. Mayor Chuck Brawner said Goedecker brings needed experience to the position.

“He brings a high level of experience from the explosion of the BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico to five years as emergency management specialist with the City of Irving. He has a background and tools to train our staff to do a good job of making sure in a situation like Harvey or any natural or manmade disaster that he’s very well-qualified to train staff and deal with the situation.”

“The overall goal is to build a culture of preparedness and resiliency in the city of Katy with citizens and with city personnel,” said Goedecker, “and to make sure our citizens are prepared as best as possible for the next disaster and to make sure city personnel also are prepared to handle it as best as possible.”

Goedecker came to Katy from Irving for the “challenge and excitement of running my own emergency management program.” Those challenges includes flooding. Floodwaters entered 125 residential structures in the Katy area on Tax Day in April 2016 and 685 residential structures in August 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. He said he will study the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey and what worked well and what didn’t.

“I’m kind of starting from the ground up,” said Goedecker, who said he’s from Schulenberg and has family close by. “We’re moving closer to family.” Married since 2011, he and his wife have two children ages 3 and 1.

His responsibilities include updating all the emergency operation plans and making sure the continuity of operation plans are good.

His goals include making sure the city staff is prepared to handle any natural or manmade disaster. He stressed training exercises with management staff for the next time a Harvey hits so that the city is ready to go.

When the city activates the emergency operation center, each city department has someone designated for the center, he said. Right now he said he’s trying to get to know all the different departments.

When not working, spending time with family is important. “With this line of work, you never know when the next disaster will happen,” he explained.

Initially, he was planning to study meteorology and then started to consider geography. Looking to see what he could do with a degree in geography where a person studies map and weather, he discovered the field of emergency management.

He earned a degree in emergency administration and planning from the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science from the University of North Texas.

“The emergency management degree at North Texas is one of the best if not the best program in the country,” he said. “Lots of teachers have done work in the field. They have experiences in the field and then come back and teach new emergency management administrators.”

His first job out of college was the BP oil rig. He was doing contract work and his contractor was hired by BP to help manage the incident.

Initially, he used company software to help track people and resources. He moved up eventually and became manager of the Mississippi command post in Gulfport between May 2010 and October 2011. “I was out there a long time.”

He succeeds Maria Galvez as Katy’s emergency management coordinator.

karen.zurawski@chron.com

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