Database attempts to ‘clarify’ FEMA
Orange County Commissioners Tuesday discussed hurricane preparedness, some matters related to Hurricane Ike and approved two grants for existing sheriff’s programs.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Kelley said his office was recently granted access to a database program that clarifies the red tape associated with FEMA’s “Project Worksheets.”
Project Worksheets are used to file claims, and can often be long, complicated forms that result in more confusion once they are returned to the county, Kelley said.
With the new database, he said, “We’ll be able to see a better picture of where we’re at in each phase, when we might expect something to come back and when it’s been approved; or when it might be funded. It also is going to allow me to give [the court] a ‘dollar figure’ rather than going through every one of them and adding up every line.”
He expects to give the court another update in a few weeks.
In other business:
– Orange County deputies received approval for a $10,000 grant for its “Spotlight on Crime Project.” The grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance program requires no matching funds to buy LED flashlights, which are more powerful than most home-use flashlights. Another grant between the county and state attorney general’s office for $15,259 will allow victims to be notified of an offender’s release.
– Declaring May 24-30 “Hurricane Awareness Week,” commissioners heard Kelley, who publicly read the court’s resolution. “The 624-mile Texas coastline and our area in particular, and hundreds of miles inland are vulnerable to the devastating effects of hurricanes and tropical storms,” he said. “Both public and private entities should develop emergency responses for recovery plans in accordance with local jurisdictions and local emergency management offices. The best defense is preparedness and public information about the dangers of high winds, storm surge, flooding and tornadoes.” The official hurricane season runs from June 1-Nov. 30. For information on general evacuation procedures, or of persons with disabilities or special needs, go to www.nhc.noaa.gove/HAW2/english/intro.shtml. For pet evacuation information, go to www.txart.org or www.tahc.state.tx.us; and for Red Cross information, go to www.disastersafe.redcross.org.
– County Judge Carl Thibodeaux gave an update as to ongoing county mitigation projects related to Ike. The Road and Bridge office, formerly near the courthouse, will be incorporated to the county’s transportation depot on Farm Road 1442. The Adult Probation office, he said, would likely see a new building constructed near the courthouse if a house owned by the Orange County Historical Commission is torn down. Historical officials in Austin want the house repaired, however, it is the county’s position the home’s damage from Ike was too extensive, he said.