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Disaster Assistance for Special Needs Residents

By: Jennfier Cavazos
By: Jennfier Cavazos

A truck caught on fire on Interstate 45 in Leon County last summer forced the evacuation of parts of Centerville and Buffalo. Although emergency crews were successful if getting everyone to safety, there was no, and still is no, emergency system in place for such an event.

Bill Vest is the emergency management coordinator for Leon County. He's hoping to change that. As part of their emergency planning efforts...a special needs registry is being compiled to make sure those who can't help themselves, would get help should a disaster ever strike.

"We want to reach people who are homebound or who are not mobile in some way. So if we have an emergency situation we have the ability to locate them and go remove them from home if need be to protect them." says Vest.

This emergency database is a collaborative effort of the seven Brazos Valley counties. Those with special needs fill out a form with information about their medical condition and how to get in contact with them.

Leon County has a small percentage of residents who need special assistance, but those are the people emergency workers want to get to in case of an evacuation.

"Those people are handicapped, elderly; they may not have heard about homeland security. And when there's a disaster of any type we need to know where they are so we can go out and get them--either for transportation or make sure their evacuated." says Leon County Judge Byron Ryder.

He says since much of Leon County surrounds Interstate 45, there's a pressing need in to have an emergency plan in place that helps the elderly and disabled. There are places already allotted for shelter and food in case of an emergency.

"Ours is more of a fallout - where if something might happen in Brazos or Harris County, they come to our county for refuge and that's where we see our critical need." says Judge Ryder.

And because of the critical need, having the vital information could save lives in the end.

Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties all are compiling a special needs registry. You can pick up an application at any city hall or county judge’s office.


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