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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 8

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links


Heatstroke is the number one killer of children, outside of car crashes. That’s why the Administration for Children and Families has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to attempt to reduce these deaths by reminding parents and caregivers about the dangers of heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger.
  • From 1998-2013, 606 children died due to heatstroke, representing 61% of total non-crash fatalities in this age group. Of the 606 deaths:
    • 52% were forgotten in the vehicle
    • 29% gained access by themselves and became trapped
    • 18% were left intentionally
    • 1% were unknown cases
  • In 2014, 29 children died of heatstroke in the U.S.
  • Average annual number of child heatstroke fatalities since 1998: 38
  • Children are at a higher risk than adults of dying from heatstroke in a hot vehicle especially when they are too young to communicate.
  • Children overheat up to five times faster than adults.
Preventing Heatstroke Resources

Get involved and promote this safety campaign.

Source: Administration for Children & Families

AUGUST 10 – 12, 2018

During this annual sales tax holiday, you can buy most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks (sold for less than $100) tax free from a Texas store or from an online or catalog seller doing business in Texas. In most cases, you do not need to give the seller an exemption certificate to buy qualifying items tax free.

This year’s sales tax holiday begins Friday, Aug. 10, and goes through midnight Sunday, Aug. 12.

The sales tax exemption applies only to qualifying items you buy during the sales tax holiday. Items you buy before or after the sales tax holiday do not qualify for exemption, and there is no tax refund available.

Qualifying Items

Clothing and Footwear Qualifying Items

The exemption applies to each eligible item sold for less than $100, and there is no limit to the number of qualifying items you can buy.

For example, if you buy two shirts for $80 each, each shirt qualifies for the exemption because each is less than $100, even though the total purchase price is $160.

Items that Do Not Qualify

The following items do not qualify for exemption during the sales tax holiday:

  • items sold for $100 or more
  • clothing subscription boxes
  • specially-designed athletic activity or protective-use clothing or footwear
    • For example, golf cleats and football pads are usually worn only when people play golf or football, so they do not qualify for the exemption.
    • Tennis shoes, jogging suits and swimsuits, however, can be worn for other than athletic activity and qualify for the exemption.
  • clothing or footwear rentals, alterations (including embroidery) and cleaning services
  • items used to make or repair clothing, such as fabric, thread, yarn, buttons, snaps, hooks and zippers
  • jewelry, handbags, purses, briefcases, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches and other accessories
  • computers
  • software
  • textbooks

During the sales tax holiday, student backpacks sold for less than $100 are exempt from tax.

The exemption includes backpacks with wheels and messenger bags. You can buy up to 10 backpacks tax free at one time without giving an exemption certificate to the seller.

Items that Do Not Qualify

The following items do not qualify for this exemption:

  • framed backpacks
  • luggage
  • briefcases
  • athletic, duffle or gym bags
  • computer bags
  • purses

School Supplies

Only specific school supplies sold for less than $100 qualify for the exemption, and an exemption certificate is not required.

Details available online.


Published June 27, 2018 by Security Magazine

For the third year in a row the potential of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, tornado, flood or wildfire, is the type of threat that causes most concern among Americans.

Individual’s concern about natural disasters (33 percent) continues to exceed worry about terrorist attacks (15 percent), cyber-attacks (eight percent), environmental disasters (five percent), or disease outbreaks (13 percent).

The poll was conducted by international polling firm YouGov for Healthcare Ready, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that works with the public and private sector to address healthcare resilience before, during and after disasters.

“These findings underscore the need to prioritize individual and community preparedness across the country in the face of threats from natural disasters, including the current hurricane season. Because we know that it’s not if, but when, a disaster will strike,” said Nicolette Louissaint, PhD, executive director of Healthcare Ready. “This annual poll provides insight that allows us to help the public and private health sectors better prepare and respond swiftly to a natural disaster, disease outbreak, or other emergency situations.”

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Only 35 percent of Americans could list all their prescription details including dosage if they had to evacuate their homes without their medications or medical supplies, down from 2017 (38 percent).
  • 25 percent of Americans reported they could only go two to three days without access to their medications or medical equipment before they began to experience negative health outcomes.
  • More than half of Americans (53 percent) do not have any emergency preparation plans in place, yet 42 percent are concerned about an emergency happening.
  • Americans are almost equally divided in their belief that a disaster could impact them in the next five years, with 51 percent perceiving it as it very or somewhat likely, and 49 percent believing it is not very or not at all likely.

“Given the tremendous devastation that Americans witnessed during last year’s natural disasters, including destructive hurricanes and wildfires, it’s increasingly important to understand how we as country view and prioritize preparedness,” continued Dr. Louissaint.

One of the most striking findings in the poll was in response to the question about funding for the agencies responsible for preparing a community for natural disasters or disease outbreaks. Only 32 percent of Americans feel the federal government has enough funding to prepare communities for disasters and aid in disaster recovery, which is down from previous years. Even fewer, 30 percent, think that states are sufficiently funded.

“All levels of government must be involved for a swift and effective response and have to be sufficiently resourced in order to do so. Local and federal officials must also work with communities before disaster strikes to help them prepare and ultimately recover from a disaster,” said Dr. Louissaint.

Source: Security Solutions for Enabling and Assuring Business


Published July 12, 2018 by FEMA

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency released today the 2017 Hurricane Season FEMA After-Action Report. The report examines the agency’s performance during the record breaking season. Last year, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated the nation at a time when FEMA was already supporting 692 federally declared disasters. During response to the three catastrophic hurricanes, FEMA also responded to the historic wildfires in California. The report captures transformative insights from a historic hurricane season that will help FEMA, the emergency management community, and the nation chart the path into the future. The report identified 18 key findings across five focus areas and offered targeted recommendations for FEMA improvements, as well as broader lessons for partners throughout the emergency management community.

“I’m extremely proud of how FEMA and the whole community performed under extraordinary circumstances,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. “We are prepared for the 2018 hurricane season and have already applied lessons learned from last year to improve how we as an emergency management community do business. We are driven by continuous improvement and remain committed to helping people before, during, and after disasters.”

As a cornerstone of the discipline, emergency managers use lessons learned in order to improve outcomes, minimize errors, and better serve survivors. The agency has already taken immediate actions based on the findings from the After-Action Report including updated hurricane plans, annexes, and procedures for states and territories; increased planning factors for the Caribbean and disaster supplies; and updated high priority national-level contracts, including the National Evacuation Contract, Caribbean Transportation Contract, and National Ambulance Contract. FEMA has also tested its response and initial recovery capabilities in the National Level Exercise (NLE) 2018, which occurred in May and focused on areas identified from real-world continuous improvement findings in this report.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused a combined $265 billion in damage and each ranked among the top five costliest hurricanes on record. As a result, FEMA coordinated large deployments of federal personnel, both before and after the storms’ landfalls, to support response and initial recovery efforts across 270,000 square miles. FEMA facilitated logistics missions that involved more than $2 billion worth of commodities moving across several states and territories using multiple modes of transportation. FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, composed of state and local emergency responders, saved or assisted nearly 9,500 people across the three hurricanes. In total, the hurricanes and wildfires affected more than 47 million people—almost 15 percent of the nation’s population. FEMA registered nearly 4.8 million households for assistance.

FEMA has incorporated many of the findings from this report into its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which will guide implementation of long-term goals to build a more prepared and resilient nation. The full report is available online.

Source: FEMA

Post-Harvey Report Provides Inundation Maps and Flood Details on “Largest Rainfall Event Recorded in US History”

Published July 9, 2018 by USGS

Nineteen inundation maps and detailed flood information from Hurricane Harvey are now available from the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hurricane Harvey was the most significant rainfall event in U.S. history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts, since records began in the 1880s.

Hurricane Harvey’s widespread 8-day rainfall, which started on August 25, 2017, exceeded 60 inches in some locations, which is about 15 inches more than average annual amounts of rainfall for eastern Texas and the Texas coast. The second largest rainfall event recorded in continental U.S. history was during Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978, which left Texas Hill Country with 48 inches of rain. Not only were rainfall totals exceptional during Hurricane Harvey, the area affected was also larger than previous events.

In the immediate aftermath of Harvey, the USGS and FEMA initiated a study to evaluate the magnitude of flooding, determine the probability of future occurrence and map the extent of the flooding in Texas.  USGS field crews collected 2,123 high-water marks in 22 counties in southeast Texas and three parishes across southwest Louisiana. Although parts of central Louisiana experienced Harvey related flooding, this report only documents the extent of flooding in southwest Louisiana along the Sabine River. High-water mark data, along with flood flow information from USGS streamgages, were used to create 19 inundation maps to document the areal extent and depth of the flooding.

FEMA requested time-perishable high-water marks, updated water-level records and Harvey inundation maps, which are key materials that will be used by state and local resource managers. The data and records will assist officials in updating building codes, planning evacuation routes, creating floodplain management ordinances, providing environmental assessments and planning other community efforts to become more flood-resilient.

Record streamflow was measured at 40 USGS streamgages in Texas that have been in operation at least 15 years. At two streamgage locations, scientists determined that the percent chance for flooding of this magnitude to happen in any given year was 0.2 percent. This probability is also referred to as a 500-year flood. Thirty other USGS streamgages experienced flooding at levels with a 1 percent chance of occurring each year, also known as a 100-year flood. 

“The USGS had more than 100 employees from 16 states in the field working around the clock for about five weeks collecting flood measurements after the storm,” said Tim Raines, USGS Texas Water Science Center Director. “Our crews are dedicated to making sure emergency managers have the information they need to help keep Texans safe – during the storm and into the future.”

The USGS conducts research on the physical and statistical characteristics of flooding, estimating the probability of flooding at locations around the United States. FEMA uses this information to revise their Flood Insurance Rate Maps. These maps help identify areas most likely to experience flooding in any given year.

The USGS produced 19 maps for six heavily flooded river basins, to include the Lower Brazos, Lower Neches, Pine Island Bayou, Sabine, San Jacinto and San Bernard, as well as the coastal areas of Corpus Christi, Port Aransas and Matagorda Bay.

The full report is available online.

Source: USGS

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