MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF
Earlier this year, I was privileged to speak about emergency management at a conference of county judges and commissioners. I would like to share some of the messages I gave them, because they are messages I hope everyone in Texas will take to heart.
I would like all local officials to know that our job at the Texas Division of Emergency Management is to serve and support you. But I would also like to encourage everyone to meet us halfway by taking some first steps to be prepared.
Whether you are a county judge, a mayor or a private citizen, you need to have a plan for taking care of yourself, your family and your community for the first 72 hours after disaster strikes. All Texas residents should have emergency supply kits and family preparedness plans, and all local leaders, whether they are in the private sector or government sector, need to be familiar with emergency management procedures and processes.
When disaster strikes, a Regional Liaison Officer from the Texas Division of Emergency Management will be at the side of a county judge or mayor to advise, explain processes, help and support as critical decisions are made and key resources are requested. But it takes time to deploy resources and personnel to a stricken area, especially when this involves collapsed bridges, flooded roads, downed trees and power lines.
My next point is that all disasters are local, but a major disaster can have an impact on every county in the state. When wildfires burns across the West Texas brush country, firefighters from all over Texas and perhaps even other states will be called on to help. When a hurricane strikes the Texas coast, it can spin off tornadoes and floods that cause deaths, injuries and destruction throughout Texas and other states. Evacuees leaving one area will have an impact on highway traffic, hospitals and shelter facilities throughout the state.
If I had one wish for Texas, it is that everyone from state and local officials to high school students would learn more about disaster preparedness. Many organizations offer this kind of training from Citizen Emergency Response Teams -- to FEMA online courses – to programs offered by many voluntary organizations.
I urge you and I challenge you to prepare a kit, make a plan and get some training. I assure you the time will come when you are very glad you have done this.
Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®