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State & Local Emergency Organizations

The Governor
The Governor is responsible for directing homeland security in the State and for developing a statewide homeland security strategy. The Governor is responsible for dealing with dangers to the State and people presented by disasters and disruptions to the State and people caused by energy emergencies.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)
Chapter 418 of the Government Code assigns the Division specific responsibilities for carrying out a comprehensive all-hazard emergency management program for the State and assisting cities, counties and state agencies in implementing their own emergency management programs. Among the specific responsibilities of TDEM are:

  1. Emergency Planning: TDEM maintains the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan and other specialized state plans. It also adopts standards for local emergency management plans, reviews those plans, and maintains a database of planning accomplishments.
  2. Training: TDEM conducts an extensive emergency management-training program for local and state officials and emergency responders.
  3. Public Education & Information: TDEM provides threat awareness and preparedness educational materials for the public, and also provides emergency public information during disasters.
  4. Hazard Mitigation: TDEM administers a number of pre and post-disaster programs to eliminate or reduce the impact of known hazards.
  5. Response: TDEM coordinates mobilization and deployment of state resources to respond to major emergencies and disasters
  6. Disaster Recovery: TDEM administers disaster recovery programs for individuals and for local governments, state agencies, schools, hospitals, and other public entities.

The Emergency Management Council
The state Emergency Management Council, which is composed of 36 state agencies, the American Red Cross (ARC), Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), and the Salvation Army (TSA), is established by state law to advise and assist the Governor in all matters relating to disaster mitigation, emergency preparedness, disaster response, and recovery.

During major emergencies, Council representatives convene at the State Operations Center (SOC) to provide advice on and assistance with response operations and coordinate the activation and deployment of state resources to respond to the emergency. Generally, state resources are deployed to assist local governments that have requested assistance because their own resources are inadequate to deal with an emergency. The Council is organized by emergency support function (ESF) -- groupings of agencies that have legal responsibility, expertise, or resources needed for a specific emergency response function.

Emergency Management Council

Note: The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are not state agencies.

The State Operations Center (SOC)
The SOC is operated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and serves as the state warning point. It uses an extensive suite of communications to receive and disseminate warning of threats to regional warning points and to state and local officials; monitors emergency situations throughout the state and provides information on these events to federal state, and local officials; and coordinates state assistance to local governments that are dealing with emergencies. The SOC coordinates 3,000 to 4,000 incidents per year. As noted above, the state Emergency Management Council is convened at the SOC to carry out state response activities for major emergencies and disasters.

Disaster Districts
Disaster Districts are the State’s regional emergency management organizations that serve as the initial source of state emergency assistance for local governments. A Chairman, who is the local Texas Highway Patrol commander, directs each District. Disaster District Committees, consisting of state agencies and volunteer groups that have resources within the District’s area of responsibility, assist the Disaster District Chair in identifying, mobilizing, and deploying personnel, equipment, supplies, and technical support to respond to requests for emergency assistance from local governments and state agencies. Disaster District chairs may activate and commit all state resources in their area of responsibility to aid requesters, except that activation of the National Guard or State Guard requires prior approval by the Governor.

If the resources of a Disaster District are inadequate to provide the type or quantity of assistance that has been requested, the request for assistance is forwarded to the State Operations Center for state-level action.

State resources committed to assist local governments normally work under the general direction of the Disaster District Chair and take their specific task assignments from the local Incident Commander.

Local Emergency Officials & Organizations
Mayors and County Judges have responsibility for emergency preparedness and response within their jurisdictions. These officials may appoint an Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) to manage day-to-day program activities. Local emergency management and homeland security programs include threat identification and prevention activities, emergency planning, providing or arranging training for local officials and emergency responders, planning and conducting drills and exercises, carrying out public education relating to known hazards, designing and implementing hazard mitigation programs, coordinating emergency response operations during incidents and disasters, and carrying out recovery activities in the aftermath of a disaster.

Local emergency management and homeland security organizations may be organized at the city level, at the county level or as an inter-jurisdictional program that includes one or more counties and multiple cities.  Local emergency management organizations may be organized as part of the Mayor or County Judge’s staff, as a separate office or agency, as part of the local fire department or law enforcement agency, or in other ways.  Local emergency management and homeland security agencies may be identified as emergency management offices or agencies, homeland security offices or agencies, or some combination of the two.

Most local governments have an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffed by members of its various departments that is activated to manage the response to major threats and incidents and coordinate internal and external resource support. Some local governments have an alternate or mobile EOC as well. Most local governments use the Incident Command System (ICS) as their incident management scheme. Under ICS, an Incident Commander typically directs the on-scene response by local responders from a field command post set up at or near the incident site. Responders from other jurisdictions and state and federal responders that have been called on to assist when local resources are inadequate to deal with a major emergency are integrated into the local incident command system.