Message From The Chief – September 2016
As we head into September and closer to autumn, here in Texas we find ourselves at an interesting crossroads, an anything-could-happen crossroads. For the last several years, Texas weather has been a mixed bag of extremes. We've experienced an historical drought, an unprecedented wildfire season, vast areas of flooding, deadly severe storms and a Goliath blizzard. The only thing missing seems to be a hurricane.
Five years ago, Bastrop County, like much of Texas, was on fire. Extended record breaking drought compounded by a searing and windy summer created conditions extremely perfect for a widespread firestorm. By the time the last fire was out, almost four million acres of Texas had burned. When relief came, it came with relentless tenacity.
In May and again in October 2015, vast areas of Texas experienced massive amounts of rain. On the one hand, years of debilitating drought was completely eliminated. Lakes and reservoirs once critically depleted were filled and, in many cases, overflowed. But all that rain came at an expensive and deadly cost.
As we were preparing this issue of the Texas Emergency Management Online newsletter, Texans from every region of the state were growing weary under a lengthy spell of spring and summer heat. Summers in Texas are hot, but this year summer heat came on early and didn't let up. Numerous counties across Texas were under heat and extreme heat advisories, and the media outlets were counting the growing number of plus-100 degree days. It was coined a "binary" summer, because of all the ones and zeroes on the forecast charts. After being drought free for a time, the dryness began to build and grass fires were becoming more and more common.
Last month, tropical moisture finally began to build in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised its earlier 2016 Atlantic hurricane outlook, increasing its prediction to a 70 percent chance that we will see 12 to 17 named storms, including up to 4 possible major hurricanes. It's been 10 years since a major hurricane struck the Texas Coast. With hundreds of Texas communities still very much involved in extensive flood recovery projects, a hurricane at the right place and right time could be catastrophic.
September is National Preparedness Month
Our nation sets aside this month to remember the challenges we have overcome and reinforce the need for all of us to be prepared for disasters and emergencies.
Being prepared is a shared responsibility; it takes the entire community. This September, being prepared could be particularly important, so I urge all Texans to commit to accomplishing the following simple tasks:
Every incident and disaster presents its own unique and often unexpected elements and consequences. That past event that had been the worst yet, just may be another record waiting to be broken.
Make an Emergency Plan
2016 National Preparedness Month
Community Emergency Response Teams
Volunteer in Texas
Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM® TEM®
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