Hurricane Harvey at the Texas State Aquarium

Jeff Vlach, Jesse Gilbert, Emma Gilbert
Texas State Aquarium
Making Waves Teen STEM Café


This blog was written by Making Waves Teen Leader, Sierra Spears

Would you be prepared for a hurricane?

Well, the Texas State Aquarium was prepared for Hurricane Harvey. On January 29th, the Texas State Aquarium held a Making Waves Teen STEM Café with presenter Jeff Vlach, the Aquarium’s IT Manager. Jeff planned ahead and mapped out all of the outlets that are powered by the backup generator so the Aquarium maintained internet and power throughout the storm. Without doing something this simple, the Aquarium would have never been able to have use of technology during the storm. Jeff had back up plan after back up plan. He made sure the team that stayed at the Aquarium had cell phones, wall phones, and satellite phones so they could get ahold of someone if needed.

Jesse Gilbert and Emma Gilbert, who were a part of the “ride out team” that stayed on site through the whole storm, also spoke about their experiences. Their main priorities were to care for the animals during Hurricane Harvey. Animals in outdoor exhibits such as four bottlenose dolphins, two otters, 26 stingrays, and five sea turtles were moved inside the building and monitored throughout the storm. The dolphins have special transport containers for their size and shape that are made so they are not harmed in the transport. Once they were put in them they were moved to the Caribbean jungle of the Texas State Aquarium. The bottlenose dolphins could hear the free-flight birds in the Caribbean and would try to make their own bird calls during the storm.

More on their recovery stories:

Hands on Activity

For the hands-on activity, each group received a set of cards with different pieces of technology, and groups had to collaborate to decide which items would be most important for the control-room during the storm.