Emergency preparedness is not simply a responsibility for large cities or Texas counties. All jurisdictions, not matter what the size need to prepare for emergencies that happen locally. In Fort Bend County, one only needs to look at the efforts of the City of Simonton’s Emergency Management Coordinator over the last seven years. Under the leadership of Lou Boudreaux, Simonton, a community of only 814, has undertaken preparedness activities which many larger communities have not completed.
Simonton understands the threats to the community, primarily flooding issues given its proximity to the Brazos River. As the article notes, many of its elected officials and its citizens have completed various training designed to make the community safer in times of disaster. Working in collaboration with Miles Tollison, Senior Planning Coordinator from the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management (FBC OEM), the City is developing Emergency Management Guidelines describing how the jurisdiction wants to meet its emergency management responsibilities.
Doug Barnes, FBC OEM’s GIS Planning Coordinator, has worked with the Boudreaux to develop a set of maps which can be used by local officials and trained citizens to map damage that may occur following a disaster, like a hurricane. Other preparedness efforts that the City has completed include developing memorandums of understanding with the neighboring City of Weston Lakes and Fort Bend County; procuring equipment to outfit a small Emergency Operations Center; working to identify necessary hazard mitigation efforts designed to prevent future damage; and, as noted below, procuring the necessary equipment to pump water from areas that might flood during an emergency.
As reported by FortBendNow staff on Monday, May 9, 2011, please read the article below which will tell you more about the substantial preparedness efforts being made by this small community located in Fort Bend County.
The city recently agreed to coordinate flood pump operations with the Valley Lodge Property Owners Association, which is located wholly within the city limits. The agreement gave the association the responsibility for maintaining, staffing and operating the pumps. The effort will be led by board member Stephan Sear.
According to Simonton Emergency Management Coordinator Louis Boudreaux, the exercise showed the pumps could be removed from storage, set up on-site and operational in less than 50 minutes.
“A quick response is very important when it comes to dealing with an emergency,” said Boudreaux. “The volunteers did an excellent job in this exercise and showed a significant commitment to protect their community.”
Simonton Mayor Daniel McJunkin said the city was working with local organizations such as VLPOA to help protect the community.
“It’s not easy being a small city in Texas because the public’s expectation for emergency preparedness is high,” McJunkin said. “We have limited financial resources and no paid city staff to set up and run emergency equipment, but, what we lack in resources, we make up for with community spirit and preparedness.”
The mayor added the city had achieved an important preparedness milestone by partnering with community groups to take on important tasks.
“I am pleased with the turnout and with the outcome of the exercise. The volunteers learned about pump operations and the city has learned from the exercise as well,” he said.
Boudreaux said in addition to this exercise, the city intends to hold regular training events to prepare for other types of emergencies.
“Our primary concerns are the potential for hurricanes and river flooding. We are also preparing for how to deal with tornados, wild fires, chemical spills and other general emergencies,” Boudreaux said.
Boudreaux also praised the leadership Fort Bend County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Braun in helping the city partner with the other communities in the area to achieve better emergency preparedness. Simonton has also developed its own emergency action plan, which was created with the help of Alderwoman Sandy Bohannon.
Simonton City Council Members, as well as a number of local volunteers, have also completed numerous online training courses provided by FEMA covering the “National Incident Management System,” which is a standardized nationwide approach to manage emergency events. The city has also become active in Citizen’s Emergency Response Teams and the Medical Reserve Corps program. Simonton residents interested in volunteering can contact city hall at 281-533-9809.