Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hurricane Tejas

The State of Texas ran an exercise to simulate a Category 4 hurricane strike at the Rio Grande Valley.  The main events ran Wednesday and Thursday, June 8 and 9, according to the news media. However, the execution depended on deep planning running back to January of this year. For myself, as a headquarters support staffer, I arrived at 9:00 AM on Sunday, June 5. I made my last call (from home) at 6:30 PM on Friday. My job was to run the WebEOC emergency operation center computer. Despite the short days on Sunday and Friday (8 hours each), I put in 74 hours in five days. So did a couple hundred other people.

  • Department of Public Safety Trooper Robbie Barrera says the drill began Wednesday and runs through Thursday.  (CBS news Dallas-Fort Worth here.)
Loading up on Monday morning for the trip
down to the Rio Grande Valley. This team
gathered evacuees and shepherded them to safety.

  •  AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in coordination with local, state, federal and private sector partners, is conducting a full-scale air evacuation exercise in response to a hypothetical hurricane scenario in which the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is evacuated. This exercise provides the emergency management community an opportunity to practice and evaluate local, state and federal emergency plans by evacuating a sample group of approximately 300 “general and medical evacuees” (exercise volunteers) from the lower Rio Grande Valley to the sheltering jurisdictions of San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and Irving. The exercise began on June 2 and concludes Thursday, with air evacuations and sheltering taking place today and Thursday.  (K-Star Radio/KVST 99.7 FM, Huntsville, Texas, here.)

The Texas Maritime Regiment (TMAR) practiced
search and recovery.
Of those 300, the Texas State Guard provided 226. Among those were evacuation responders who transported people out of danger, sheltered them and returned them to their homes.  We also had search and recovery rescuers. 
Our joint operations liaison officer
(Texas air component lieutenant colonel, left)
confers with our Battle Group non-commissioned officer in charge
(Texas army component) while a sergeant (Texas army component)
in the background configures
emergency evacuation handheld computers.
In addition, we worked with state agencies such as Public Safety and Emergency Management, of course, but also with the Department of State Health Services, the local city Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and many private responders, including the American Red Cross and the Amateur Radio Relay League. 
There were 156 unique stations participating. Of these, 89% reported an ARES affiliation, 17% reported a MARS affiliation and 30% reported a RACES affiliation. 48% reported being Winlink capable. 44% reported having backup battery power, 43% reported having a generator and 6% had solar recharging capability. …“I received a total of 108 ICS-213 forms during the exercise.” (ARRL South Texas here)
ICS Form 213 is a general message for any Incident Command Structure.  The ICS is the standardized FEMA methodology for managing events and incidents.  (An event is planned: baseball game; birthday party. Incidents include hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornados, and traffic accidents with toxic waste spills.) The ARRL report to members cited here is an indication of the volume of traffic that these volunteers handle when they launch and boot up communications networks to remediate for the infrastructure that is lost during a disaster.
Texas maritime seaman reports
the completion of her assignment
 for a Texas army component sergeant
at the Tactical Emergency Operations Center.
If you have a Facebook account you can see more on the TXSG official pages here.


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