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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 4

Message From The Chief – April 2016

Back in the mid 1800s, Indianola, Texas was a flourishing metropolitan area on the edge of the alluring Matagorda Bay. The developing commercial center was well on its way to becoming a port rival to Galveston and New Orleans. But, after the one-two punch from a couple of powerful hurricanes, anyone who was left packed up and—in some cases, house and all—moved inland.

Remains

Just about all that remains of Indianola, Texas

Those enterprising Europeans who had opened up shop in Indianola perhaps were not aware of or just ignored the potential fury the Gulf of Mexico can bring to bear. Perhaps they had no choice but to stay.

Like Indianola, most of Texas is blue skies and vast horizons. But, as long as people have lived anywhere in Texas, they have lived in areas that, at times, can be dangerous, destructive and deadly. Many may not have had the choice to move or were too stubborn to give up on their homes, so they stayed. And now, even though they may be aware of what the weather can be like here, people are moving here in droves.

Texas Chart

Today, large communities are rapidly expanding in many regions around Texas that have up to now been wild or rural. Urban sprawl is creating major cities out of former farm and ranch towns. The effects of a wildfire, a flood, a storm surge or a tornado is now compounded by rapidly growing, dense population and commerce centers. In 1970, when the population of Hays County, for example, was around 28,000, a flash flood certainly had the potential to be a serious event. Last year, two flash floods affected the lives of almost 200,000 people. And, although Hays County is one of the fastest growing in Texas, it is nowhere near the largest. The once sleepy, little Collin County is projected to have a population of around 1.4 million people by 2020.

It was one thing to pack up the remnants of Indianola and run to higher ground. It is unthinkable, of course, to consider permanently moving entire coastal communities that exist in Texas. As long as we’re going to be here, we will have to get better at predicting and understanding severe weather; better at designing and building our homes, our schools and our work places; better at planning our disaster preparedness and our response; and better at educating the Texans, with and without drawls, who are determined to live here.

Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM® TEM®
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter


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