Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links
HARRIS COUNTY CERT MEMBERSHIP REACHES 30,000 MILESTONE
October 25, 2017, The Katy News
(Harris County, TX) – The Harris County Citizen Corps Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program has reached a milestone of 30,000 trained members with the graduation of its latest students from the East Aldine District and Humble. The final exercise and graduation will take place on Monday, October 30th at 7 p.m. at the Harris County Fire and Sheriff's Training Academy, 2318 Atascocita Road in Humble, Texas.
"The CERT program teaches skills that ultimately make our communities stronger and better prepared," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "These students' commitment is admirable. They are showing great responsibility by preparing themselves and their families for emergencies."
The CERT program teaches disaster preparedness and basic response skills in fire safety and suppression, search and rescue tactics, and disaster medical operations. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well.
The CERT program's success is due in large part to its partnership with the City of Houston, first responders, non-profit agencies, community organizations and all its volunteers.
HARVEY HEROES HONORED AT DINNER
By Mark Moreno, October 25, 2017, The Monitor
First responders of the Rio Grande Valley were honored Tuesday at the Mission Community Center for their efforts during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
The city of Mission in-conjunction with Hidalgo County held the RGV Harvey Responder Appreciation Dinner for the first responders and their families as a display of gratitude and support from all four of the Valley counties who went to service the residents of Southeast Texas and the Coastal Bend after Hurricane Harvey in August.
Guest speaker Antonio "Tony" Peña Jr., Texas Division of Emergency Management Region 3 state coordinator, detailed statistics about the Valley responders efforts and offered words of empowerment.
"There were over 12 million cubic yards of debris. We've destroyed 2.3 million from the coastal area up to Houston," Peña said. "We had about 63,000 people in shelters across the state of Texas."
There were many uniforms that responded to bring normalcy to people's lives, no matter what kind of incident." Peña said. "We are Texas strong, we will recover."
THE COSTS RECOVERING FROM HARVEY WILL BE STAGGERING, LAWMAKERS ARE TOLD
By John C Moritz, October 2, 2017, USA Today Network
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former member of the Texas House, told the Appropriations Committee that the cost of coping with Harvey's destruction will be stratospheric.
He said 27 trillion of gallons of rain fell on Houston and surrounding communities in a matter of hours after the storm that crashed the Coastal Bend with Category 4 winds turned northeast up the Gulf Coast. The cost of hauling away the mountains of debris from thousands of flooded homes and businesses will reach $260 million.
Fortunately, he added, the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the tab.
The cost of rebuilding the government-owned buildings in the Houston area will reach about $175 million, Turner said. The city of Houston's insurance tops out at $100 million, he added.
Officials have yet to make an official estimate of the cost to widen the bayous that overflowed their banks so that future flooding might be contained, Turner said. And compounding all of that, he added, was that the city simply did not have the equipment, manpower and training even before the storm hit.
"You cannot operate (city government) lean and mean" during catastrophic weather, Turner said.
IN WAKE OF MAJOR FLOODS, TEXAS WATER AGENCY DRAFTING STATEWIDE FLOOD PLAN
By Dan Solomon, October 4, 2017, The Texas Tribune
For 60 years, the Texas Water Development Board has been the keeper of a master list of projects that are supposed to meet the state's water needs for the next half century. But the latest list the agency is compiling is not about supplying water — it's about managing it.
Earlier this year in the wake of two major floods that crippled communities across the state — and just months before the remnants of Hurricane Harvey dumped a historic amount of rainfall on southeast Texas — state lawmakers voted to give the agency $600,000 to create the state's first-ever flood plan. The document will broadly evaluate statewide flood risks and detail projects local governments want to pursue to mitigate those vulnerabilities with suggestions as to how the state could help fund or finance them.
There are many approaches the state could take after the plan is presented to the 2019 Legislature, but he said one thing is certain: "Flood risk is not going away in Texas."
HURRICANE HARVEY SPARKS RENEWED PUSH FOR UNDERGROUND WATER STORAGE PROJECTS
By Katie Riordan, October 18, 2017, The Texas Tribune
For state Rep. Lyle Larson, Hurricane Harvey was not only a tragedy but also a wasted opportunity. The San Antonio Republican, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, estimates that the amount of rain the storm dropped on the state could meet all its water needs — household, agricultural and otherwise — for at least eight years.
Instead, he said, those 34 trillion gallons ended up in a place where they didn't do a bit of good: the Gulf of Mexico.
In Harvey's wake, Larson and other lawmakers are re-upping calls for state support of "aquifer storage and recovery" projects in which water is pumped into underground reservoirs and stored for future use. Larson authored several related bills earlier this year — most of them passed, but were later vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott — that would've earmarked state funding for such projects and directed the state's water planning agency to study the best places to put them.
The practice of capturing water and injecting it into underground aquifers is well established. According to the Texas Water Development Board, there are at least 175 operational aquifer storage and recovery projects throughout the United States, including three in Texas. (The oldest, in New Jersey, came online in 1969.) Several more projects are in the works throughout the state.
ABBOTT, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ASK FOR $18.7 BILLION IN HARVEY RELIEF
By Dan Lohrmann, October 5, 2017, Austin American Statesman
Gov. Greg Abbott and most of Texas' congressional representatives have requested $18.7 billion in the next round of Hurricane Harvey recovery funds.
"Texas greatly appreciates the Appropriations Committees' efforts to swiftly provide funds," the political leaders said in a letter to committee leaders in the House and Senate. "However, in light of the unprecedented damage from Hurricane Harvey and the historically epochal flooding of Houston, Beaumont and surrounding regions, we all recognize that the funding already appropriated is a small fraction of the federal resources needed to help rebuild Texas and reinvigorate the American economy."
Harvey struck the state's Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 with sustained winds of 132 mph, devastating coastal and rural communities and leaving large portions of Houston and Beaumont under several feet of water. Abbott has estimated that the recovery could cost up to $180 billion.