The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) today hosted a hurricane emergency response exercise and resource showcase in Austin. Various resources, equipment, vehicles and numerous emergency responders from around the state convened at Austin Bergstrom International Airport to conduct interoperability and resource capability assessments, as well as logistical planning. Gov. Rick Perry, DPS Director Steven McCraw, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd and several state officials toured the exercise site today, one day before the start of the 2013 hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“As a new hurricane season begins tomorrow, the most important element of emergency response starts with the individual. Everybody in Texas, particularly those along the coast, needs to have an emergency plan, an emergency supply kit and an evacuation route in place before a hurricane strikes,” Gov. Perry said. “We use these annual exercises to help us keep our system razor-sharp and ready for action at the first sign of trouble. Through practice, simulation and repetition, we've honed one of the most effective and efficient emergency response teams in the country.”
Emergency responders today showcased an impressive array of equipment: a wide variety of aircraft, including a C-130 Hercules Air Transport, Blackhawk Helicopter and Pilatus PC-12; multiple mobile command and communication trailers; water rescue equipment and several watercraft; and mobile fuel, water, livestock and kitchen units. The agencies and organizations participating in the exercise included the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Military Forces, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (Texas Task Force 1 and the Emergency Services Training Institute), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Veterinary Emergency Response Team, The Salvation Army, Austin Fire Department, Civil Air Patrol and other private sector partners.
“Hurricanes are a devastating force of nature, and today’s exercise demonstrates the extensive resources necessary to meet such a threat to the state,” said Director McCraw. “The state stands ready to assist our local partners in the event a storm or other disaster threatens Texas. Since early planning and preparations can greatly increase the protection of life and property, it is imperative that residents also begin taking precautions now.”
As the 2013 hurricane season begins, Texans should be preparing their families and property before a storm develops. Texas residents, especially those living along the coast, are urged to put together an emergency supply kit; learn evacuation routes before a storm hits; have a plan to ensure all family members and pets are able to evacuate safely if necessary; make preparations to protect your property from the impact of a storm; and stay informed about changing weather conditions in and around your area.
To find out more information on how to prepare for the 2013 hurricane season, please visit: www.texasprepares.org.