Disaster Brought On By Harvey Pushing Limits Of Houston’s Emergency Call Services

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HOUSTON (CBSMiami) – The disaster Hurricane Harvey has brought on is pushing the limits of Houston’s emergency call services.

As of Monday night, 911 operators processed 75,000 calls. Normally, the city gets 8,000 to 9,000 emergency calls per day.

Many people who need help have complained about their calls going unanswered.

“We’re advising people to go ahead and stay on the line,” said Joe Laud, the administration manager at the Houston Emergency Center.

Laud says the 911 problem is complicated when people hang up and try calling back.

“The worst thing they can do is hang up because what ends up happening is, it’s almost – they’re back at the end of the line,” Laud said.

More than 200 people have been working 12-hour shifts since Saturday. Typically just 25 people are answering those phones.

For operator Katherine Tyler, who lost her car and her home, the work has become personal.

“I love this job. I’ve been doing this job for about four and a half years. They need help, my co-workers, they’re working long hours, I needed to get here and help them,” Tyler said.

The emergency center also has a voice-activated system telling people their calls are being processed, but some of these cases just can’t wait. There have been a number of calls involving women in labor so call-takers have had to literally talk people through home deliveries.

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