Missouri City mayor defends response to Harvey

The Missouri City mayor is defending his decision to give emergency responders authority to commandeer private property during Hurricane Harvey to help the public during the devastating storm.

Missouri City’s mayor ordered for emergency responders to be granted authority to commandeer private property at the height of the Houston-area flooding last week - and they did.

“We weren’t prepared for this,” said Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen. “We weren’t prepared for 52-inches of rain, and two tornadoes, and flooding, a category-four hurricane that hit this city.”

The mayor signed the order along with the city attorney on August 28, 2017, authorizing emergency crews to commandeer, procure and use private property for the public good.

Owen says rescuers and city staff accessed locked stores including Lowes, Wal-Mart, H-E-B and Academy and took supplies, including kayaks, waders and water boots.

“Our people went into those stores and took what we needed,” Owen said. “We we weren’t looting. I will do it again if I have to.”

The Texas Government Code authorizes the presiding officer of an incorporated city to exercise the powers granted to the governor, on a local scale, in times of a disaster.

This includes the commandeering of property. Some call this “martial law.”

Owen says he notified all of the stores before crews went inside to commandeer supplies. 

The mayor estimates emergency crews took between $10,000 - $20,000 worth of goods. Owen says every penny will be repaid.

Owen has few words for those who have criticized his decision.

"Until they’ve been in my boots, they need to keep their mouths shut,” Owen said.

© 2018 KHOU-TV


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