Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links
OFFICIALS URGE CAUTION AS CRITICAL, RED-FLAG FIRE CONDITIONS EXPECTED ACROSS REGION
By Jeff Farris, January 29, 2018
The forces of nature don't appear to be with the Texas South Plains and Panhandle these days.
The positives from last year's wet summer — greener lawns and possibly lower water bills — have given way to the negatives of this year's record-breaking dry winter, turning the grass that grew in May into brown, dry kindling.
And weather and fire officials will once again cross their fingers and hope for the best today, but warning area residents to be on alert, forecasting a critical fire danger and bringing more firefighting resources to the region.
From Lubbock Online
TEXAS HOSPITALS WORRIED ABOUT IMPACTS OF CUTS TO DRUG DISCOUNT PROGRAM
By Steffi Lee, January 24, 2018
AUSTIN (Nexstar) – For more than two decades, safety net hospitals and community health centers have relied on the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which allows participating entities to get discounts on outpatient prescription drugs.
The cost savings are meant to help hospitals provide additional services to their patients, often low income or uninsured.
"Those are the ones providing significantly more care to patients who are not able to afford medical care and prescription drugs," 340B Health President and CEO Ted Slafsky said.
Maureen Milligan, president & CEO of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas, said the program is a critical part of the health care safety net in Texas, citing many of the drugs as lifesaving prescriptions.
NEW FEMA FLOOD MAPS SHOW GROWING RISK IN CENTRAL TEXAS
By Mose Buchele, January 29, 2018
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has opened up a public comment period for new floodplain maps for Caldwell, Guadalupe, Gonzales and Hays counties, showing a significant increase in flood risk, especially in places that recently experienced devastating floods.
"Of course we see weather trends are changing, but a lot of that [increased risk] is driven by the amount of development in an area," said Diane Howe, a FEMA floodplain manager who has been working on these maps for years.
The maps are created to enhance public safety, but will also impact development in the region.
Flood insurance costs more in flood-prone areas and is required for people who want to get a federally backed mortgage to buy in those places.
Where people are in the floodplain also dictates how they can build. In areas with a higher risk of flooding, new construction must be built to higher elevation.
HURRICANE RECOVERY EFFORTS CONTINUE WITH MUCH STILL TO DO
By Ed Sterling, January 22, 2018
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 17 extended for 30 days the state disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey, which pounded and flooded the Gulf Coast and moved deeply inland, spreading its destructive power.
"As long as Texas families are fighting to recover, they can rest assured that the State of Texas is fighting with them," Abbott said. The 60 counties listed in the declaration will continue to be eligible for assistance as they recover and rebuild, the governor said.
Abbott, who remains in regular contact with congressional leaders and the Trump administration, said he has continued to request funds to rebuild Texas. On Jan. 19, Abbott said he shared Hurricane Harvey survivors' aggravation over that fact that much-needed continuing federal disaster aid for Texas is bogged down in Washington politics.
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who also serves as Texas' hurricane recovery czar, on Jan. 20 spoke to a group of newspaper publishers at a statewide press convention in Galveston. While delivering an overview of recovery efforts, Sharp expressed his frustration with federal sluggishness in sending disaster aid to Texas.
From Sealy News
HOW MUCH HAS BEEN RAISED FOR HARVEY RELIEF - AND HOW'S IT BEING SPENT?
By Edgar Walters, January 30, 2018
It's been five months since Hurricane Harvey unleashed historic flooding in southeastern parts of the state, but billions of dollars in recovery money have yet to be spent.
State officials are still waiting for the federal government to award a $5 billion block grant to help families in need — money that was approved two months ago. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was still paying for more than 11,000 hotel rooms for Harvey victims as of Jan. 29.
Texas leaders have estimated it will take up to $121 billion in federal money to rebuild public infrastructure and housing. It's a huge sum that even state officials acknowledge they won't get.
From The Texas Tribune
NORTH TEXAS DOCTORS SEEING INCREASE IN SECOND FLU STRAIN
By Stephanie Whitfield, December 26, 2017, KHOU
Hospitals in North Texas are reporting an increasing number of flu cases this season. And in the last couple of weeks, two strains of the flu have begun to overlap.
Type A flu hits people first around December. Type B is usually a milder form of the flu that shows up later in the flu season. But it's early this year.
"We're seeing Flu A and Flu B overlapping. So last week one day, I had all patients with Flu B. The next day — all Flu A," explained Dr. Eriel Hayes with Cook Children's Medical Center. "Normally, we'd see a lot of Flu A especially during this time of the year. Usually closer to March is when we'll see more of Flu B cases."
Tarrant Public Health Department says the number of reported type B flu cases in the county nearly doubled to 23 percent from December to January.
DISASTER CITY HOSTS ANNUAL FEMA CANINE TRAINING
By Jerilyn Hogan, January 29, 2018
Texas, COLLEGE STATION -- This weekend Disaster City hosted the Annual FEMA Canine Training in College Station.
The facilities built on the world-renowned property known as "Disaster City," are equipped to train many units within the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Jan. 26 and 27 are dedicated to the progression of canines' training around the country.
The College Station location is facilitated by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, or TEEX. TEEX members volunteer their time and dog for crisis related events that occur nationwide.
Each obstacle and location in Disaster City simulates a unique disaster. "There are giant piles of concrete. Those are actually specially designed to act like collapsed buildings, and they have special compartments built into them so we can safely hide people in there [for the dogs to find]," said Christy Bormann, training coordinator for Texas Task Force One.