Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2011 Vol. 58 No. 9

TEXAS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT BRIEFS, LINKS & TIPS

FOLLOW CHIEF KIDD AND DPS ON TWITTER
If you haven’t already, make sure to follow TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, CEM® @chiefkidd and the Texas Department of Public Safety @TxDPS on Twitter for  emergency management and law enforcement updates.

HIGH AND DRY? KEEP TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN IN MIND
Texas may be in a record-breaking drought, but flash floods remain the number one, weather-related killer in Texas. Hector Guerrero of the National Weather Service said, “Every dry low water crossing or low lying area you drive through each day should remind you that these areas can quickly become raging rivers when the rains reappear. Sadly, many flood victims, who have lost their lives in past Texas flash floods, tried to navigate through a flooded low water crossing or a low lying flooded area that had been dry for much of the year.” Guerrero reminds us that there is only one rule: “When you see water on the road, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

DROUGHT AND WILDLIFE
The state’s single worst drought year in history is having a severe impact on wildlife. One unforeseen effect is the appearance of wildlife in unusual places and unusual times of day. Black bear have been sighted in Kerr County and there has also been an upswing in rattlesnake bites. According to officials with Seton Hospitals in Central Texas, more than 300 people have been treated for venomous bites. Members of the Drought Preparedness Council are concerned that even normal rains over the winter will not restore water levels to normal by spring.

Texas AgriLife Extension Service has posted a video on the Texas drought on its website AgriLife Today. It’s also on YouTube. Texas AgriLife economists say the drought has caused a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, the most costly drought on record since 2006, when losses totaled $4.1 billion.

PLANNING WORKSHOP FOR STATES IN FEMA REGION VI
The FEMA Region VI response division hosted a Planners Conference in mid-August. The goal was to coordinate catastrophic planning efforts between the state and federal levels and to provide a forum to address questions from state emergency planners regarding the FEMA planning process and planning grant programs. Two planners from each of the Region VI states attended, along with planners from the FEMA recovery division and national preparedness division. Also discussed were training and exercise needs to support the catastrophic planning process.

COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) swing into action immediately after a disaster – sometimes even professional first responders arrive on the scene. CERT members are trained in basic disaster response skills, including fire safety, team organization, disaster medical operations and some light search and rescue operations. Funding is provided through the Citizen Corps program by the U.S. Congress. For more information on the CERT program, visit the Community Emergency Response Teams webpage.

WILDFIRE HISTORY
While 2011 has been one of the worst fire seasons in Texas history, 2006 remains the most severe in terms of wildfire fatalities and acreage burned. The Texas Forest Service records show there were 21 fatalities in 2006. There have been several fatalities so far this year. In 2006, Texas Forest Service reported 23,198 fires burning 1,976,295 acres. Since fire season started on Nov. 15, 2010, Texas Forest Service and area fire departments have responded to 19,855 fires that have burned 3,509,260 acres. This year’s Rockhouse fire was the third largest fire in Texas history at 314,444 acres. The East Amarillo Complex fire in Hutchinson County in 2006 was the largest at 907,245 acres followed by Big Country at 366,000 acres in 1988.

The message for Texans everywhere, is when you see smoke on the road, do not drive into it. Learn more about wildfire preparedness by visiting the Firewise Communities Information and Resources page, and follow the latest TFS wildfire information on its Texas Wildfire Situation page.

TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY POWER CONSERVATION TIPS
High temperatures have increased concern about the potential for power outages, especially after school starts. While the Texas Education Agency does not anticipate back-to-school will strain the electric grid, TEA, the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, had these tips for school administrators during the peak hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m:

  • Set the thermostat two to four degrees warmer than usual and close blinds or curtains on any window that gets direct sunlight.
  • Turn off all unnecessary lights and electrical equipment when not in use.
  • Unplug water fountains in the hallways after 3 p.m.
  • Avoid any non-essential activities that require electricity during the peak hours (i.e. large copy jobs, charging cell phones or laptop batteries, etc.).
  • If you would like more conservation tips or would like to follow the latest conditions on your own, you can visit www.ercot.com or www.puc.state.tx.us.

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