Gov. Perry Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration
Gov. Rick Perry will today ask President George W. Bush for a major presidential disaster declaration as a result of Hurricane Dolly's escalation to a Category 2 storm shortly before making landfall in south Texas. The Presidential Disaster Declaration will provide federal resources to support re-entry and recovery efforts.
This follows the state disaster proclamation for Aransas, Bexar, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria and Willacy.
"Texas is rapidly responding to the needs of our residents as Hurricane Dolly continues to bring extensive rain and strong winds through our southern communities," said Gov. Perry. "As we always do in the toughest times, we are seeing Texans being Texans: helping their neighbors, putting others' needs above their own, and heading toward the trouble, not away.
Since Sunday, state resources have been activated and pre-positioned throughout south Texas to help communities prepare for Hurricane Dolly. To date, Texas has taken the following actions:
Texas Forest Service: Three incident management teams have been deployed to Weslaco to support mass care activities. The Lone Star Task Force is on standby ready to be deployed.
Texas Military Forces: 1,200 national guardsmen, an incident management team and six UH-60s have been activated and pre-positioned throughout south Texas.
Texas Engineering and Extension Service: 160 personnel including Texas Task Force 1, Water Rescue Teams, and Helicopter Rescue Specialists have been deployed. Texas Task Force 2 has been alerted and remains on standby in Dallas.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice: The TDCJ Seguin and Lopez units will not evacuate. The units have started working twelve hour shifts and both facilities are on lockdown.
Deaf Link: Informational alerts, fuel and emergency supply kits have been made accessible for the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and blind residents in the affected counties and distributed through individual notification systems. Deaf Link is prepared to make TxDOT message accessible as appropriate. The stand up shelter link (remote video interpreting) will provide access to information for evacuees who are deaf. Deaf Link also has a liaison on the ground to assist with media coverage in the Valley.
Texas Department of Transportation: TxDOT is monitoring road and bridge conditions to determine if wind and rain conditions present a threat to travel. At the direction of law enforcement officials in the region, the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge and Park Road 100 north of South Padre Island Convention Center in Cameron County are closed. Dynamic message signs are being used to convey important information about travel conditions.
American Red Cross: Operations Headquarters and warehousing facility is established in San Antonio. Four Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) are being deployed to Weslaco; 6 ERVs will go to Laredo; 29 ERVs are en-route to San Antonio. One ERV is pre-positioned in Laredo and 6 are already pre-positioned in San Antonio. Six shelter trailers are in position in Laredo for post-hurricane sheltering. Shelter teams are being recruited for post hurricane sheltering. The ARC has recruited and deployed 250 disasters workers to Texas.
The Salvation Army: Four canteens have been deployed to Weslaco. One canteen will support the EMC Strike Team and 300 individuals for 3 - 4 days. An additional 5-6 strike teams will report following the storm.
Department of Information Resources: The State Data Center is conducting ongoing meetings with Service Delivery Managers and agencies to discuss preparations, identify sites of concern, ensure current backups, move all backup tapes offsite to another facility, look at machine types to identify possible spares, and jointly assess risk of different scenarios (remove IT equipment, when/if to shutdown, etc.). TexasOnline is updating the Emergency Portal with the most recent evacuation maps provided by the Texas Department of Transportation. In addition, the agency will be adding additional maps that are currently available on TxDOT's sight that are not available on the Emergency Portal.
Department of Aging and Disability Services: DADS has contacted all nursing homes and other licensed residential providers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. No providers are contemplating relocation of residents at this time. The 69 facilities in the four county area have evacuation plans available and will implement based on local instructions.
Texas Railroad Commission: Natural gas utilities are required to notify the commission if they project a loss of service to customers. They also must notify the commission after the loss of service within a reasonable time period (2 to 3 hours). The commission received an update from CenterPoint on Monday, July 21, noting that they are not projecting any loss of service at this time due to the storm.
Department of Insurance: Consumer Protection has three staff teams on standby ready to head to the Valley after landfall; one for Brownsville, one for McAllen and a roving mobile team. These teams will offer assistance to consumers at DRCs in filing claims, contacting their insurance companies, and if needed, filing complaints.
Texas Animal Health Commission: The Texas Animal Health Commission has established an area command in the TAHC headquarters in Austin to facilitate response. As soon as conditions permit, damage assessment will begin with the personnel and equipment already on site.
Texas Education Agency: At least 26 of the 32 school districts in Cameron, Starr, Hidalgo and Willacy counties have closed. Some schools, such as those in Brownsville, are being used as emergency shelters.
Texas Department of Public Safety: DPS Highway Patrol troopers are stationed on both sides of the Queen Isabella Causeway to keep the bridge closed during the storm. In addition, 50 troopers are assisting with various other operations. 16 troopers are assigned to the mass care strike teams that will be providing water and ice at the various points of delivery that have been designated to open after landfall.
General Land Office: The agency has secured equipment at the Brownsville warehouse, and has one airboat secured at the Harlingen airport. GLO is moving one 17', one 21' boat and one truck to the Beeville staging area. There is one Relocation Wildlife Refuge trailer and one Jon Boat going to a warehouse in Port Lavaca.
Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services: Actions are underway to protect assets from flooding and to ensure continuity of operations. DARS staff is standing by to provide support as requested.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials emergency responders, additional public water supply and wastewater specialists, and a self contained mobile command post trailer with interoperable radio communications and satellite/wireless internet connections is on standby for pre-deployed in Austin. The agency is monitoring the impacts to dam and levee structures in the impacted area. TCEQ is on standby for fuel waivers if necessary. TCEQ is providing a regional representative on the State Rapid Assessment Team that will flyover and assess the impacted area immediately after the storm. Regional staff contacted public water supply and wastewater facilities in the potentially impacted area and updated vital information needed for post storm assessments. TCEQ is prepared to provide public water supply and wastewater specialists to assist with assessing storm damage to these facilities.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs: Hurricane housing resources for communities are on the agency's website. Community action agencies have been contacted in the lower Rio Grande Valley and advised that they may be called upon to serve additional persons based on transpiring events. TDHCA is reminding all affordable housing rental owners statewide to keep their apartment vacancy information current as they supply that information to TDHCA. Information is ready for local communities regarding possible post-disaster housing assistance and will provide any technical assistance necessary to help these communities apply for post-disaster housing funds.
Health and Human Service Commission: The state's 2-1-1 system has activated 24-hour response operations in additional sites to handle more calls from the affected areas. More than 80,000 Texans have used 2-1-1 to register for transportation assistance. The 2-1-1 centers also are helping callers locate shelters, find sand bags, and get other assistance. HHSC has coordinated the delivery of one load of ice and water to the San Antonio Regional Command and requested delivery of 10 loads of ice and water to the RSA in Weslaco to support the POD's with an additional 10 loads of ice and water on standby. HHSC has notified state offices in the projected effected area.
Health and Human Services System: The state's health and human services offices in a 13-county area are closed today or opening late due to the threat of severe weather. Agencies are working on arrangements for temporary office space should any offices be damaged. State benefits offices also are prepared to remain open this weekend if necessary to help victims apply for food stamps and other state assistance. Currently there are three Property Damage Assessment teams on standby ready to deploy with GDEM and FEMA.
Department of Family and Protective Services: DFPS is reminding foster parents and caregivers that they are required to follow any evacuation orders for an area and must notify the agency as soon as possible of their new location. Once a family reaches its evacuation destination, they may notify their local CPS office or call the DFPS Hotline (1-800-252-5400) to check in.
Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA): The agency is preparing to conduct Preliminary Damage Assessments in conjunction with the Governor's Division of Emergency Management Public Assistance Disaster Recovery Team. ORCA's disaster relief funds are available to rural counties in Texas for eligible activities in relief of disaster situations where either the governor has proclaimed a state disaster declaration or the president has issued a federal disaster declaration. Communities may use the grants as a 25 percent match required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or as funds of last resort.
Texas Agrilife Extension Services: Texas AgriLife Extension Service has activated 52 personnel across 17 coastal counties, at two AgriLife Research and Extension Centers and a marine education center to secure state resources to support local jurisdictions and DDC's for community, business, family preparedness and recovery planning for wind and flooding threats. Additionally, 6 AgriLife Communications personnel in College Station have initiated plans for printing and distribution of recovery educational materials. Public household and farmstead mitigation and recovery information are available at http://texashelp.tamu.edu.
Fuel Teams: An emergency fuel contract has been activated to support possible evacuation and response requirements. The fuel industry is reporting a significant increase in retail fuel sales along the entire Texas Coast.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: 81 game wardens, 68 boats and 8 airboats have been stationed from Corpus to Brownsville. An additional 84 wardens, 59 boats and 7 airboats are ready to deploy should it become necessary.
Texas Workforce Commission: TWC's McAllen Unemployment Insurance Tele-Center is closed today to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Dolly. Unemployment insurance calls that would normally go to the McAllen Tele-Center will be forwarded through TWC's toll-free Unemployment Insurance phone network to Tele-centers in El Paso, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. All of the other four Unemployment Insurance Tele-centers across the state are placing additional staff on the telephones today. TWC has added Tele-center staff statewide who are providing extended hours from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM Central Time through Friday, August 8. Workforce Board offices and some workforce centers on the Texas coast in the path of the hurricane have been closed for today for the safety of TWC and workforce board employees.
United States Coast Guard: Coast Guard is conducting offshore flights warning mariners of approaching storm, and ensuring the beaches of North and South Padre Islands are clear of vehicles and campers. The agency is coordinating with ACOE to conduct sonar scans of Brownsville ship channel. Two 87' patrol boats are on standby, and an incident command post has been established at NAS Corpus Christi.
More than 2,800 people are in shelters across the state. Additional emergency resources are available for activation and deployment as needed at the request of local officials.
Under the governor's leadership, the State of Texas has held 66 hurricane multidisciplinary emergency management exercises and six statewide hurricane conferences with first responders, elected officials and private sector partners.
The State Operations Center is conducting daily conference calls with local officials, first responders, mass care providers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Weather Service to assess the latest weather projections and to coordinate state and local preparation and response.