Fort Bend Flood Management Association holds symposium on reducing flood risk

15 06 2010

The Fort Bend Independent reported on the recently held Flood Risk Reduction Symposium held in Fort Bend County on June 4, 2010.

The evolving Federal regulatory environment associated with flood risks, as well as emergency management challenges created by Hurricane Ike, played a major role in the recent creation of the Fort Bend Flood Management Association (FBFMA).   FBFMA members represent most Fort Bend County government agencies with flood management responsibilities.  The main focus of the group is protecting Fort Bend residents from flood risks as well as providing effective emergency management resources when necessary.

FBFMA sponsored its first annual “Flood Risk Reduction Symposium” on June 4 in Sugar Land, with over 100 local officials and consultants in the audience.   Among the featured speakers were Peter Rabbon, Director, National Flood Risk Management Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), George Grugett, Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association (MVFCA), and Susan Gilson, Executive Director of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA).

Elected officials also presented, including keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, State Rep. Charlie Howard, and Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert. They discussed issues such as pending regulations, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the need for coordinated activity by Fort Bend flood management entities to address future crises associated with hurricanes or other emergencies.

Olson cautioned the audience about the potential impact to Fort Bend County residents of President Obama’s draft Executive Order 11988, which affects implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Hebert addressed the influence of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), initially created years ago as a minor agency, now playing a far greater role in the operation of other Federal agencies such as the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Levee Improvement District (LID) boards in Fort Bend County must ensure that they are proactively meeting and addressing the standards required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to avoid any non-compliance consequences that could cost residents millions of dollars in mandatory flood insurance premiums, he said.

Hebert said, “Levee Districts can no longer afford to be passive agencies. We must understand the issues, debate our options, establish consensus opinions, and, most importantly, let our elected officials hear those opinions as they debate future flood plain or flood insurance legislation.”

André McDonald, President of FBFMA, said, “The FBFMA membership consists of most of the local Fort Bend governmental agencies with the combined responsibility of protecting over 130,000 people and $10 billion of assessed property value from flooding.

FBFMA recognized that there was a need to create a higher level of awareness about what is happening at the Federal level in regulations on flood management.

The purpose of this program was to provide critical information and education to officials, consultants, and public sector policy makers who are tasked with flood management responsibilities.

McDonald said FBFMA will continue to monitor all activity at both the Federal and state level related to floodplain and flood risk issues and will also sponsor future events.

Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

13 06 2010

Though Fort Bend County is not directly threatened by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, many of our citizens are keenly interested in what is taking place to resolve the crisis.  Many of our residents work for energy companies, firms heavily tied to the energy industry, or businesses that are dependent on the seafood that comes from the Gulf of Mexico.  For the most up-to-date information, the best place on the Internet to click on is the official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command.

A Unified Command has been established to manage response operations to the April 20, 2010 “Deepwater Horizon” incident. A Unified Command links the organizations responding to an incident and provides a forum for those organizations to make consensus decisions. This site is maintained by the Unified Command’s Joint Information Center (JIC), which provides the public with reliable, timely information about the response.

To date, those agencies involved in the Unified Command include BP, NOAA, US Department of Defense, USGS, Transocean, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish & Wildlife Service, CDC, US Coast Guard, US Department of Homeland Security, National Park Service, OSHA, Minerals Management Service, US Department of the Interior, and the US Department of State.

Here is the link:

FEMA Welcomes The City Of Sugar Land, Texas To The Community Rating System

13 06 2010

From a June 11, 2010 FEMA News Release:

Residents and business owners in the City of Sugar Land can now enjoy a reduction in flood insurance premiums because of the city’s active participation in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). In addition to lower premiums, the CRS program helps to reduce the threat of damage due to flooding.

“The flood insurance program rewards communities for implementing programs and policies that protect their residents from flooding,” said Tony Russell, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional administrator.  “City of Sugar Land’s higher regulatory standards, public education outreach, and other initiatives, have earned the city lower premiums as a CRS Class 7 Community.”

The City of Sugar Land’s flood insurance policyholders who reside in Special Flood Hazard Areas will receive a 15 percent reduction on flood insurance premiums and policyholders located outside Special Flood Hazard Areas will enjoy a 5 percent discount. The reduction in flood insurance premiums represents an annual savings in premium costs for Sugar Land policy holders and will take effect at the time a new policy is written or an effective policy is renewed.

New to CRS, the City of Sugar Land’s participation in the CRS has been beneficial in many respects.  In addition to the reduction in insurance premiums, the City of Sugar Land officials are more knowledgeable about floodplain management and its residents are more knowledgeable about mitigation and flood insurance.  

The program helped make the City of Sugar Land a safer place to live, reduced the economic impact of flood hazards and saved their citizens money on their flood policy premiums.

The community rating system (CRS) is a voluntary program for NFIP- participating communities.  The intended goals of the CRS are to reduce flood losses; facilitate accurate insurance ratings; and to promote the awareness of flood insurance.  For more information on the NFIP’s CRS program, go to

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Katy Fire Department Chaplain Selected To Serve On National Emergency Planning Task Force

13 06 2010

From an article recently reported in (John Pape, May 27, 2010):

Katy Fire and EMS Chaplain Robert Crutchfield has been tapped to be part of a task force charged with the development of a new facet of the National Incident Management System.  The National Incident Management System, or NIMS, is a system used nationally to coordinate emergency preparedness and incident management among federal, state and local agencies. It is also a key component of FEMA’s National Response Plan to major disasters.

Crutchfield will be part of a nationwide group responsible for the development of a new “resource type” category of NIMS called “disaster general reservist.”  Under NIMS, a resource type is a detailed, standardized description of a resource that can be deployed during an emergency. The disaster general reservist will be a new category of personnel, typically volunteers, that can be used in support roles such answering telephones, assisting with meal distribution and similar functions.

Among the issues the task force will be considering are training, qualifications, scope of duties and how the volunteers would be requested and assigned to disaster scenes.  Crutchfield noted volunteers such as CERT team members have already proven invaluable during emergency situations, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Likewise, they could serve in important support roles during other emergencies.

He also said he was looking forward to the task at hand.  “This is my first opportunity to contribute to emergency management at a national level, and I am literally jumping at the chance,” Crutchfield said. “I appreciate my colleagues for allowing me to contribute at such a high level.”

Crutchfield said his role would be “very representative.”

“I won’t be relying on my own experiences and expertise on this one. I will be aggressively seeking input that I can forward to the other members of the group,” Crutchfield said.  Among those he plans to ask for advice is Katy Fire and EMS Chief Marc Jordan, as well as Fort Bend County Emergency Management Director Jeff Braun.

In addition to his role as chaplain for the Katy Fire and EMS Department, Crutchfield is also the founder of Christ 4 Responders, an emotional and spiritual support network serving the needs of first responders.

Nim Kidd Appointed as Chief of Texas Division of Emergency Management

12 06 2010

As we enter the 2010 Hurricane Season, there has been concern about the need for the State to appoint a new head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).  For many years, the Division was headed by the late Jack Colley.  However, earlier this year on May 16th, Colley died as a result of a heart attack.  With prospects for a busy hurricane season in 2010, and with the unknown threats to Texas from the BP oil spill, it is critical that there remains continuity in leadership at TDEM.  I am pleased to report that an interim appointment has now been made.

As reported in a News Release from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) on June 11th, San Antonio District Fire Chief W. Nim Kidd has been named as the interim chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management starting July 1, 2010.  This appointment was made by Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, with concurrence of Governor Rick Perry and Allan Polunsky, chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission.

“Jack Colley was a national icon in emergency management, a man whose invaluable service saved countless lives in Texas and established a legacy of competence that will be felt for years to come,” Director McCraw said.  “As we enter the 2010 Hurricane Season, we are fortunate to welcome Chief Kidd, an experienced leader in handling disasters in our state, whose skills and dedication will keep Texas a national leader in emergency preparedness and management.” 

The News Release from DPS notes that Kidd “is currently San Antonio’s Homeland Security Director, managing the Homeland Security Grant Program, and is chair of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Working Group. Kidd has also served as the city’s Emergency Manager since 2004, managing the city’s preparedness, response and recovery efforts for all local disasters, including more than a dozen substantial disasters impacting the community.”

I have known Chief Kidd for a number of years and look forward to his leadership.  He understands the “big picture” related to emergency management in Texas—- from the need to react to events based on the risk not on occurrence to the mundane issues related to grants management.  Grants management is important— it will be through Chief Kidd’s knowledge of homeland security grant processes that he will be able to continue the important initiatives started and maintained by Chief Colley.

Chief Kidd “has worked with the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) since 1993, holding the rank of firefighter, fire apparatus operator, lieutenant, captain, and District Fire Chief.  He has led the SAFD Technical Rescue Team and the Hazardous Material Response Team. Additionally, Kidd has served as a member of Texas Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team since 1997, responding to state and national disasters including the World Trade Center attack in September 2001. Chief Kidd holds the Certified Emergency Manager designation from the International Association of Emergency Managers and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Emergency Management Association of Texas. Chief Kidd currently serves on the Governor’s Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Advisory Council-Disaster Committee, and the Governor’s Texas Preparedness Advisory Council for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.”

As you can tell from his background, Chief Kidd is well suited to perform in the interim role for which he has been selected.  It is my hope that he will not have to face disasters and catastrophes during the term of his appointment; however, I am confident that he will perform in a fine manner when faced with events that threaten the citizens of the State of Texas.  Congratulations Nim!

TEEX Helps the State Prepare for Potentially Busy Hurricane Season

6 06 2010

From the TEEX Express, dated June 3, 2010…….

The State of Texas has been working with Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) to prepare for an active 2010 hurricane season that forecasters say could spawn 8-14 hurricanes. A series of planning meetings, tabletop exercises and rehearsal of concept (ROC) drills culminated in two full-scale functional exercises in the Houston-Galveston and Lake Sabine hurricane areas and the regions that shelter their evacuees – completed before June 1, the official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season.

 TEEX has coordinated the Texas Hurricane Exercise Program for six years, and works closely with the coastal regions and inland sheltering jurisdictions on preparation activities and exercises.  TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) designs, develops and delivers the annual statewide hurricane exercises for the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

 The 2010 full-scale exercises included approximately 1,000 participants from the two regions and the sheltering jurisdictions. Six regional councils were involved in the exercises and 42 hurricane exercise “nodes,” which included multiple jurisdictions.

 The goal of the two-and-a-half-day exercises was to provide responders and officials experience in activating an emergency operations center, notifying appropriate authorities and the public, staffing and managing the EOC, requesting resources, and coordinating with other local, state and federal agencies for hurricane response and recovery activities, said Chuck Klafka, who coordinated the Lake Sabine exercise.

Each exercise included a scenario involving a Category 3 hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast with a storm surge leading to large-scale evacuations of coastal counties, sending large numbers of evacuees to inland shelters. Along with the Dallas area and North Central Texas, a sheltering jurisdiction participating was the Huntsville/Walker County region, which conducted a full-scale shelter exercise at the Walker County Storm Shelter.  Thirty high school student volunteers role-played several scenarios, including a busload of evacuees with various special needs and pets that arrive unexpectedly at the shelter.

One of the highlights of the 2010 exercises was hands-on experience with the statewide WebEOC software in conjunction with the State Operations Center, a first for the hurricane exercise, according to Amy Raines, who coordinated the Houston-Galveston exercise.  “The jurisdictions could log into their actual WebEOC accounts and subscribe to the event, which allowed them to view the Significant Event logs, submit and track resource requests, track tasks and report events and status. This provided all organizations an opportunity to identify and fix numerous issues during the exercise.  Additional items will be addressed prior to future events.  This was a very successful first endeavor.”

Texans Must Prepare for 2010 Hurricane Season

1 06 2010

Governor Rick Perry, Governor of the State of Texas,  issued a News Release today urging Texas residents to prepare for the 2010 Hurricane Season.  Specifically, he urged…

…Texas residents to take steps to protect their families and property from potential storms this hurricane season. Today marks the first day of the 2010 Hurricane Season, which lasts through November 30.

“In Texas, our strategy for dealing with disasters is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  Texans can be assured that no state is more prepared than ours to handle the full spectrum of threats, including man-made and natural disasters,” Gov. Perry said. “With national weather experts predicting a considerably active hurricane season, Texas residents must also do their part and take simple steps to protect their families and property to ensure we have a safe hurricane season this year.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted an “active to extremely active” hurricane season, with an estimated 14-23 named storms, 8-14 hurricanes and 3-7 major hurricanes. By comparison, an average hurricane season will produce 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

Last month, Gov. Perry addressed more than 1,500 individuals at the Texas Hurricane Conference in McAllen, which brought together state and local emergency response personnel, volunteer organizations and private sector partners to discuss ways to further enhance preparedness, response and recovery efforts during future storms.

In advance of the 2010 Hurricane Season, residents should take simple steps to protect their families and homes should a storm threaten the Texas coast, including:
·    Creating a plan for your family
·    Having an emergency kit
·    Prepare your home and vehicle before evacuation
·    Knowing your evacuation routes.

These tips and other helpful preparedness resources can be found at