Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2013 Vol. 60 No. 12

Message From The Chief

Approaching the end of the year we naturally tend to look back and think about things that have happened. This year saw plenty of significant events that affected the lives of many Texans.

Texans in the Panhandle are no strangers to harsh winter weather. But a “crippling, historic blizzard” struck there in February. Nineteen inches of snow fell in one day around Amarillo. Eighty-four mile per hour wind gusts were clocked at the airport. Whiteout conditions with 50 mile per hour sustained winds were common over the entire Panhandle area. Almost all roads were impassable. The National Guard was called in to rescue stranded motorists.

Fifteen people, including 12 first responders, were killed when a massive explosion rocked the town of West in April. Over 300 were injured, and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed. The deadly blast was felt up to 50 miles away and left a crater 100 feet wide by 10 feet deep.

In May, tornados around Granbury and Cleburne killed six and injured hundreds of others. Hundreds of homes were damaged; many were destroyed. Tornados also were reported in Montague, Parker, Wise and Erath counties. Over the course of the storm, the National Weather Service issued storm warnings in 32 Texas Counties.

In a few short hours on Halloween night, torrential rains dropped up to 15 inches of rain in Travis, Hays and neighboring counties, causing massive and deadly flooding, including neighborhoods around Onion Creek in south Austin. The normally trickling Onion Creek became a devastating torrent, flowing at 120,000 cubic feet per second. At one point, it rose 11 feet in 15 minutes, cresting at 41 feet. Eight people were killed as they were swept away by the swift water.

Even with all this rain and snowfall, keep in mind much of Texas is still struggling with incredible drought. While the picture for Texas has improved, over half of the state is dealing with at least a moderate drought. And wildfires continue to threaten lives and livelihoods of fellow Texans.

Finally, Texas has not had a fatality-free day on Texas roads since November 7, 2000. Since that day, more than 45,000 people have been killed. And alcohol and distracted driving continue to be the leading causes of highway deaths. So, starting today, buckle up; slow down; pay attention; and never drink and drive.

During this Holiday Season, please keep Texas safe and the families and friends of those we have lost in your thoughts and prayers. Remember that severe weather can happen anywhere in this state, and no one is immune to other natural or manmade disasters. Take the time now to make your safety plan, stock your emergency kits, and talk to your family about what you will do in case of an emergency.

Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®

Follow me @chiefkidd on Twitter, and you can also follow
Texas Division of Emergency Management on Twitter @TDEM

Share |