Joint Drainage Project Planned by Fort Bend County, City of Sugar Land

29 05 2009

The Sugar Land City Council recently authorized $1.375 million to fund part of a joint drainage project with the Fort Bend County Drainage District to extend Ditch H, a major drainage channel located in that city.  The ditch runs about 4.5 miles south of U.S. 90A to the Brazos River, beneath U.S. 59. The plan calls for extending Ditch H from U.S. 90A to Oyster Creek to divert additional flow and lower the 100-year water surface elevations in the creek.  This is estimated to lower 100 year surface elevations in Oyster Creek by as much as two fee in some areas, as well as improve overall drainage along Oyster Creek.

The $1.375 million from Sugar Land will be used for construction of a bridge during the first phase of the Ditch H project. The first phase is expected to cost about $2.75 million while the estimated cost of both phases of the project is $6 million.  The extension of the drainage ditch was recommended in the Upper Oyster Creek and Ditch H Drainage Study and Improvement Plan, prepared in 2002 for Fort Bend County, Sugar Land, and Levee Improvement District #2.  Construction is expected to begin during Fall 2009.

Texas Legislative Session – May 29

29 05 2009

Today is the 137th Day of the 81st Legislative Session.  It is the last day for the House to consider Senate amendments.  It is also the last day for Senate Conference Committee Reports on tax, general appropriations, and reapportionment to be printed.  Attached to this post is an updated listing of Emergency Management related bills that have been filed in this session of the Texas Legislature; the last action taken on the bill is also noted.  For listing:  billreport 5-29-09

Houston/Galveston National Weather Service 2009 Hurricane Workshop

28 05 2009

If you did not get a chance to attend the recently held Fort Bend County Emergency Preparedness Workshop, there is an upcoming opportunity to learn more about the upcoming hurricane season this weekend.  Don’t forget to attend the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service 2009 Hurricane Workshop on Saturday, May 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Workshop attendees will receive:

 Up-to-date hurricane preparedness information including,  

  • Evacuation plans
  • Power restoration
  • Hurricane predictions
Giveaways including, 
  • A free hurricane preparedness video and vendor-provided items, while supplies last
  • A free lunch courtesy of Wal-Mart for the first 2,500 attendees
  • A chance to enter a drawing for a free natural gas generator courtesy of the Home Depot or a Red Cross Family Survival Kit by playing the hurricane tracker scavenger hunt
There will also be interactive activities suitable for the entire family including,
  • The Kids Zone Activity Center with Radio Disney, and
  • Visits with R.O.N. (Ready or Not), the interactive robot and Louie the Lightning Bug

Visit to register and view the agenda.

Risk Communications for Swine Flu

28 05 2009

Emergency Management Forum held a “Live Chat” session on May 13th entitled Risk Communications for Swine Flu and Other Health Care Emergencies.   The guest for this session was Suzanne Frew.  Ms. Frew is an international consultant, speaker, facilitator and instructor in emergency management throughout the United States, the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.   She has 20 years of public and private experience spearheading, designing and evaluating pre- and post-disaster risk and strategic communications, emergency management plans and partnership initiatives.

Through The Frew Group, her consulting practice based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Frew has worked collaboratively with government agencies, business, community and faith-based organizations to develop solutions that meet the unique needs and circumstances of stakeholders at the national, regional and local community level.  She specializes in the communication and strategic/tactical planning needs of multi-cultural, high-risk populations, addressing cultural, socio-economic and faith-based concerns of “communities within the community” to develop sustainable approaches that engage priority audiences.

The transcript of the May 13 session on Risk Communications for Swine Flu and Other Healthcare Emergencies is available at:

Texas Legislative Session – May 22

22 05 2009

Today is the 130th day of the legislative session, which is the first day the Senate can consider bills and resolutions; the first day on the Intent Calendar; and the last day for House to consider House Bills on 2nd and 3rd reading.  Attached to this post is an updated listing of Emergency Management related bills that have been filed for this session of the Texas Legislature.   billreport 5-22-09

Texas Citizens Corps will hold Conference in Houston

22 05 2009

The Texas Citizens Corps Conference will be held June 30-July 1 at the Omni Houston Hotel, Four Riverway, in Houston. Dr. David H. McIntyre, director, Integrative Center for Homeland Security at Texas A&M University, is the invited speaker for the first day’s luncheon. Some of the conference topics will include starting and maintaining a CERT program, using technology to recruit and maintain volunteers, neighborhood watch and fire corps. To view the draft agenda, click here. For more information and to download a registration form, go to the following link:

Fort Bend County initiated its CERT Program in 2007.  The first class of trained citizens graduated on April 10th of that year.  Since that time, the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management has sponsored ten additonal classes.  The number of FBC CERT Alumni now totals 185.   For more information about the County’s CERT Program, please contact Shauna Evans, OEM’s Volunteer Program Manager, at 281-342-6185.

Update – 2009 Hurricane Forecast

17 05 2009

hurricane-ike-batters-cubaAccording to a report from Reuters (Jim Loney, May 13th), Colorado State University hurricane forecaster William Gray may reduce his next Atlantic season forecast because sea temperatures are cooling and a week El Nino may appear by late summer.  “Things are looking better and better for fewer storms,” Gray told Reuters in an interview at the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

“Off the west African coast there’s colder water. There’s increasing high pressure in the Azores Islands that typically makes the trade winds stronger,” he said.  In April, Gray’s team predicted the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which starts on June 1, would see 12 tropical storms, of which six would become hurricanes and two would reach “major” status of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

The pioneering forecaster said if his research team lowers the forecast, it would likely drop to 11 storms. The new forecast is scheduled for release on June 2.  The April forecast was already reduced from one issued in December, when the CSU team called for 14 tropical storms, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. 

Gray said sea surface temperatures in parts of the Atlantic were clearly cooling. Where they were about 0.1 degree Celsius above average last fall, they are now about 0.3 degrees Celsius below average, he said.  Hurricanes draw energy from warm water, so cooler temperatures bode well for fewer and possibly weaker storms.

The prospect of an El Nino event — a warming of eastern Pacific waters that can suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic by increasing storm-wrecking wind shear — could be a key element in the outlook for the 2009 season, Gray said.  “We’re watching that carefully. About half the models are forecasting a weak El Nino by this late summer and the other half aren’t,” he said.

“But it’s getting warmer (in the eastern Pacific) and perhaps the effect of that is to cause westerly winds to blow over the Caribbean.”  The hurricane forecasting pioneer, now 79 years old, issued his first formal seasonal prediction in 1984.  Some of his recent forecasts have been well off target. But the CSU predictions, along with those of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, private forecasters AccuWeather and Tropical Storm Risk and others are closely watched by energy, insurance and commodities markets.