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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 12

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

New Exercise Guidelines Come Right Before Holiday Season
Published November 14, 2018 by Dennis Turner, KXXV News

WACO, TX (KXXV) - New guidelines from the federal government this week aim to get Americans moving and combat obesity.

It states that any kind of physical activity has benefits… not just exercise.

Susan Francis, says she started working out for a specific reason.

"Just trying to not get old too fast, trying to stay in shape," Francis said.

Now, new guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say she’s on the right track.

It extols the benefits of exercise… but emphasizes all physical activity… just as we enter the time of year where we like to eat the most.

”We’re made to move. We’re made to be active and not doing so is very counteractive,” said sports medicine physician Corbett Boone.

The study says 150 minutes of activity a week, just 20 minutes a day provides numerous benefits.

Fitness instructor Isabell Balcells pushes her students even further, with periods of high-intensity, followed by so-called “recovery periods” of slightly lower intensity.

”100 percent feel better because I think once you learn to work at the higher intensity and learn to work at a higher threshold your body does feel a lot better,” Balcells said.

Research shows this kind of workout provides the best benefits.

Experts used to say you had to exercise for at least 20 minutes to get any benefit, then they lowered it to 10 minutes. Now, the experts say any physical activity can add up to a benefit.

And for the first time, the guidelines call for about three hours a day of activity for children ages 3 to 5.

Doctors say all this movement helps prevent disease.

”Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, different types of cancers,” said Dr. Boone, who adds, it can even improve brain health.

And here’s something to motivate you… the experts say those who start from little-to-no exercise to a regular regimen show the biggest benefits.

Susan Francis calls it, her “fountain of youth.”

”Several years back, I had a scan for bone density and it was a little bit low, and that was before I started Crossfit and I had a new scan a few years after I’d been doing it and it increased my bone density to a normal level,” Francis said.

And she says that’s helped keep her motivated… and hopes it might give her some more company at the gym.

Source: Central Texas News Now 25 - KXXV

Crews Working 24/7 to Expedite Construction of New Kingsland Bridge
Published November 9, 2018. By Jacqulyn Powell of KXAN News

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Fifteen days after flooding washed away the RM 2900 bridge, the Kingsland community is celebrating the new bridge that's going up in its place. TxDOT crews broke ground on construction of the new bridge on Friday.

District engineer for TxDOT Austin Terry McCoy says usually, contractors are hired to design bridges, and the process can take around one year. However, he says on the day the bridge was washed away, a group of TxDOT's best engineers began designing the new bridge. They finished the work in just 15 days.

"This became job one," McCoy said. "Top priority for us."

McCoy says while it usually then takes a few years to build such a bridge, the new RM 2900 bridge will be built in just six months. Crews will work 24/7 to get it done. McCoy says they will also work through any rain or snow, and they'll also work on holidays.

"We asked them the question if they were willing to do this and the answer was a very very affirmative, 'yes.' These people will be giving up time with their families to make sure this bridge gets built correctly," McCoy said. "We're going to get it built as quickly as we can, and we're going to get it opened up, where people can return to their normal lives."

Construction crews are using two barges to help build the bridge. They're building from both sides at the same time, to help speed up the process.

At Friday's groundbreaking ceremony, dozens of Kingsland residents showed up to thank TxDOT engineers and their contracted construction workers.

"24/7 noise? Bring it on. We don't care. Just build it," Susan Patten laughed.

Patten is president of the Kingsland Chamber of Commerce, and she runs the Valentine Lodge with Pat Muller.

"It's a beautiful thing," Muller said of the construction noise. "We're not complaining about it a bit. It's the sound of progress to us."

Patten and Muller have a home on the other side of the bridge from Kingsland. Taking the bridge, it was only 15 minutes away. Without the bridge, it now takes a 50-minute detour to get there. The two plan to stay mostly at their lodge until the new bridge is finished.

During the flooding, they housed evacuees, and now they're housing some of the construction workers who've come in from out of state to work on the bridge.

Knowing the workers will miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families to get the job done, "We're going to do what we can to make them feel at home away from home," Patten said.

Patten and Muller say the workers' sacrifice is making a big difference for those in their community who desperately need the bridge.

"Where this really matters is that there are a lot of elderly over there, who, it's now harder for them to get to medical services. "It's harder for them to get to the grocery store," Patten said.

She says in the meantime, good neighbors have set up shopping groups that drive 50 minutes to buy groceries for elderly people who can't drive that far. Others are also pitching in to take seniors to their doctor's appointments.

TxDOT plans to open the new bridge, which will be higher and wider, in April.

Source: KXAN

#EndTheStreakTX
Published 2018 by TXDOT

Not all anniversaries are happy and Nov. 7 is one of the saddest of all. Since Nov. 7, 2000, at least one person has died on Texas roadways every single day. In an effort to end this deadly 18-year milestone, the Texas Department of Transportation, through its #EndTheStreakTX campaign, reminds drivers it’s a shared responsibility among roadway users and engineers to keep our roads safe. 

“We all have the power to end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan. “Don’t drink and drive; put away the cell phone; buckle up; and obey traffic laws. Be the driver you would want next to you, in front of you or behind you. Together, we can end the streak.”

“It’s heartbreaking to know that every day for the past 18 years someone has lost a spouse, child, friend or neighbor on our state’s roadways,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Ending this deadly daily streak is a shared responsibility. We will continue to engineer our roads to be more forgiving of drivers’ errors, but we all must work toward ending such preventable contributing factors as distracted driving, speeding and drunk driving. Let’s make it a priority to be safe, focused and responsible behind the wheel. Let’s end the streak.”

To help raise awareness of this tragic, daily statistic, TxDOT is asking people to share personal stories of loved ones lost in car crashes on their social media pages using photo and video testimonials with the hashtag, #EndTheStreakTX. The agency also will be posting startling statistics for the public to repost on social media outlets to help share this important message.

Since Nov. 7, 2000, fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes on Texas roadways have numbered more than 66,000. The leading causes of fatalities continue to be failure to stay in one lane, alcohol and speed. To decrease the chances of roadway crashes and fatalities, TxDOT reminds drivers to:

  • Buckle seatbelts – all passengers need to be buckled
  • Pay attention – put phone away and avoid distractions
  • Never drink and drive – drunk driving kills; get a sober ride home
  • Drive the speed limit – obey speed limits and drive slower when weather conditions warrant

Source: Texas Department of Transportation

Nine counties get new form of emergency communication
Published November 2018 by Jim Williamson, Texarkana Gazette

Another form of emergency communication was introduced Thursday to nine counties in Northeast Texas.

The new information is Text-to-9-1-1 and refers to the ability to send text messages to local 9-1-1 call centers during an emergency.

"Text-to-9-1-1 service allows citizens to send a text message directly to 9-1-1 for assistance in the event they are unable to make a voice call," said Rea Washington, program manager for the Ark-Tex Council of Governments during a press conference at the Bi-State Justice Building in Texarkana, Texas.
Text-to-9-1-1 service is available in the following Texas counties in the Ark-Tex Council of Governments region: Bowie, Cass, Delta, Franklin, Hopkins, Lamar, Morris, Red River and Titus.

Text to 9-1-1 is a service that allows citizens to send a text message directly to 9-1-1 for assistance in the event they are unable to make a voice call, said Washington.

"Simply send a text as you would normally. In the recipient field enter 911, compose the message and push send. Once your text is sent, the 9-1-1 system will send an automated message asking the individual texting for the address of the emergency. This starts the text session between 9-1-1 and the individual needing emergency help," she said.

"It is important to remember that text to 9-1-1 services should only be used in an emergency situation, when someone is unable to speak. Examples include if the person is deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the individual in danger. Text-to-9-1-1 also provides a silent alternative in cases such as a child abduction, active shooter or domestic abuse," Washington said.

When texting 9-1-1, know the exact location and the nature of the emergency. "Use simple language and no abbreviations or slang. Do not text and drive. Pull over to a safe location before sending a text to 9-1-1, If you are able, call 9-1-1. It takes longer to get all the information when communicating through text messages," Washington said.

Currently you can only text-to-9-1-1 with the four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. If you are in an area where texting service is not available to 9-1-1, you will receive a 'bounce-back' message telling you to make a voice call. For additional information about Text-to-9-1-1 contact Washington or 903-255-3521. Also visit the cog's website.

Source: Texarkana Gazette

Officials concerned not enough Central Texans signed up for emergency alert system
Published November 2018 by Christian Flores, CBS Austin News

As wildfires continue to tear through California, officials say deaths could have been minimized if more people signed up for the emergency alert system there. Here in Central Texas, even fewer people are signed up for a similar opt-in system, which leaves officials concerned ahead of the winter wildfire season.

According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, emergency officials say the lack of neighbors who had signed up for the emergency mobile alert system played a role in the deaths from the California wildfires. So far, the death toll sits around 80 people.

Warn Central Texas is the emergency mobile alert system that serves 10 counties here. According to the service, only 8.2 percent of all people who live in the area are signed up to receive the alerts on their cell phones.

In Paradise, one of the hardest-hit areas in California, less than 30 percent signed up for the alert system there.

"It is a concern because we want to be able to notify people quickly and give them as much information as possible to act in an appropriate manner," said Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Brad Ellis.

Bastrop County is one of the Central Texas counties hardest hit by wildfires. In 2011, massive wildfires tore through more than 34,000 acres, killing two people and destroying more than 1,600 homes.

Dan Hugo is one Bastrop neighbor who had his home destroyed. He says he will never forget the destruction. "It wiped us out completely, along with a lot of other people. We lived in an RV for 9 months," Hugo said.

Hugo is one of the few Central Texans who has signed up for Warn Central Texas' mobile alerts. He says he is shocked more people are not signed up for this, especially considering the fact the 2011 wildfires are not too far in the rearview mirror. He knows neighbors who did not sign up. "When the fire came through, I wasn't home, but my neighbor was, and it had been burning for two hours, and he didn't know. He had no alerts, no nothing. The only way he found out was it got dark outside, and the fire was at his back door," Hugo said.

With winter wildfire season coming up, Ellis says he hopes more Central Texans sign up to get the mobile alerts. "We're not always going to be there immediately to tell you to get away during a wildfire. On occasion, we're going to have to rely upon notifying you by phone," Ellis said.

Warn Central Texas sends alerts to all landlines through an automated phone call. However, they worry so few people have landlines, instead relying on their cell phones. They not only send alerts for wildfires, but also for other emergency events like hurricanes and flooding.

You can visit their website to sign up for their mobile alerts.

Source: CBS Austin News

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