Region 5 Winter Weather Preparedness
Texas DPS Region 5
Due to a strong El Niño weather pattern, the National Weather Service is predicting a wetter and colder than normal winter for Texas. A wetter and colder winter could mean more snow, more ice or maybe just more rain. In Region 5, we might see just light rain or a six-inch sheet of ice, and blizzard conditions have not been uncommon lately in the Panhandle. It will all depend on the timing of the cold air mixing with the moisture.
Disaster District Committee (DDC) Partnerships
The last two winters for much of Texas have been quite severe. The DDCs in Texas Department of Public Safety Region 5 are preparing for the upcoming winter by conducting exercises, holding meetings and updating contact lists. In Region 5 we held a region wide tabletop exercise to role play the possible worst-case winter weather scenarios with Texas Highway Patrol, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Department of Transportation, The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, local utility co-ops, the regional state coordinator and district coordinators along with the National Weather Service.
In each of the four disaster districts, we will continue to hold numerous meetings to review winter weather activities pre-impact, during impact, and the potential support needs for each agency. These meetings will cover participants from the local jurisdictions reaching out to surrounding states, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. During these meetings, we discuss the coordination and cooperation plans for dealing with a severe winter event as it is happening, and we can share eyes-on information of what the storm is bringing.
Through other DDC meetings, we reach out to our state partners on a quarterly basis to make sure all contact information is up to date and we know who we are working with.
Region 5 also conducted an ESF-8 meeting/tabletop exercise to discuss medical issues during a severe winter event. Some of the issues discussed were staffing needs and having adequate fuel supplies for backup generators at medical facilities.
The Texas Military Forces is a valuable asset during severe weather events. The Texas Military Forces is composed of the three branches of the military in the state of Texas. These branches are the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. We can call on the Army National Guard for a number of different force packages, such as high-profile vehicles and Humvees along with the personnel and support needed. We also use the Texas State Guard for DDC support and in shelter operations.
Disaster District Committee (DDC) Preparedness
The DDCs have a growing list of disaster response equipment at hand, including backup power generators at most offices, and all of it is tested regularly. We build in redundancy in all of our communication equipment and can convene regional meetings through our Video Teleconferencing System (VTC). Whether high winds or ice cause power outages or blizzard conditions shut down businesses, schools and roads, Field Response staff at the DDCs will be ready to minimize the impact of a severe winter weather event and get Texans back on line, back to school and work and back on the road.