Message From The Chief – May 2016
Over the years, one recurring theme for this publication has been addressed over and over: Severe weather in Texas, how quickly it can develop and how it very often catches many Texans off guard.
As this issue of the Texas Emergency Management Online newsletter was being produced, heavy rain and flooding was occurring in many areas of the state, especially in the southeast. Severe thunderstorm as well as flash flood watches and warnings were in place and the State Operations Center was activated.
Over the two days of Sunday and Monday, April 17-18, 2016, people around the Houston area saw more rain and flooding than they have since the likes of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Nine people died and the country’s fourth largest city came to a standstill.
Another recurring theme of this publication has attempted to address and stress the issue of people continuing to drive around barricades and getting swept away in floodwaters. Most every person in Texas, young and old, surely has heard of the motto, “Turn Around Don’t Drown®.” Yet, people still continue to disregard their safety and the safety of our first responders by ignoring flood warnings.
Finally, few weather events evoke a more deadly and destructive image in our minds than a tornado. Although tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, more deadly tornadoes have struck in Texas in May than any other month. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to learn how to survive the dangers of tornadoes and other severe weather threats in Texas.
It may be strange to think about wildfire awareness after all the heavy rain and flooding we’ve experienced over the past several months. But all the rain creates lush vegetation, and the imminent searing Texas heat can quickly turn that lush vegetation into fuel.
Wildfire awareness and safety is for all Texans, and it has become a year-round task. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, people start 95 percent of all wildfires in Texas, and over 80 percent of those wildfires occur within two miles of a community. With our population growth, urban area wildfires are becoming more and more common and dangerous. When the conditions are right, it doesn’t take much for a tossed cigarette, a hot exhaust, an unwatched campfire or a number of other things to ignite a major wildfire.
Take time now to make or update your Wildfire Action Plan and to ensure that you, your family and your community are ready to act in the event of a wildfire.
Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM® TEM®
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