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Governor declares flooding in East Texas a disaster

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott took decisive action Tuesday by issuing a disaster declaration for 29 Texas counties reeling from the relentless storms and flooding that began last week and continue to wreak havoc on homes, businesses and farms statewide were affected.

Counties included in the governor's proclamation include: Baylor, Chambers, Dickens, Ellis, Freestone, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Haskell, Hill, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Knox, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Madison , McLennan, Montgomery, Navarro , Polk, San Jacinto, Somervell, Tarrant, Trinity, Tyler, Walker and Wichita.

In a statement, Governor Abbott emphasized the Lone Star State's unwavering commitment to supporting communities struggling with the impacts of recent severe weather and flooding. “This disaster declaration will quickly provide Texans with all the available resources they need to recover from storms and flooding,” said Governor Abbott. He urged residents in vulnerable areas to remain vigilant given the ongoing threat of flooding and to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. Governor Abbott recognized the tireless efforts of emergency personnel and first responders and expressed his gratitude: “I thank the countless emergency personnel and first responders who are working around the clock to protect their fellow Texans.”

The National Weather Service has forecast moderate to severe river flooding for the eastern half of the state, beginning Tuesday and expected to continue for the coming weeks. Additionally, severe weather coupled with excessive rainfall, potentially leading to flash flooding, is expected to continue across Texas through the weekend. Hazards include flooding, large hail, damaging winds and possible tornadoes.

Pursuant to the Governor's directive, state agencies are steadfastly supporting applications for federal assistance. Resources currently deployed and available to support local efforts to address severe weather and flooding include:

  • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (Texas A&M Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2): Urban search and rescue teams; Swiftwater boat parties
  • Texas National Guard: UH-60 Blackhawk lift helicopter; Ground transport trains with high-profile vehicles
  • Texas Division of Emergency Management: Emergency personnel to support local officials' requests for federal assistance

Additionally, federal emergency resources are available to bolster local response efforts, including:

  • Texas A&M Forest Service: Incident management teams and saw teams
  • Texas Department of State Health Services (Texas Emergency Medical Task Force): Wildfire support packages and severe weather support packages, including paramedics and ambulances
  • Texas Department of Transportation: Personnel and equipment to assist with road closures; Motor graders to support emergency operations
  • Texas Department of Public Safety: Texas Highway Patrol Troopers assist with road closures and traffic control; Tactical marine unit and helicopter with lifting function
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: Park Law Enforcement and Game Wardens to assist with law enforcement; Boat crews
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Disaster Assessment and Recovery Agents and AgriLife Extension Agents to support agricultural and livestock needs
  • Texas Animal Health Commission: Livestock Support Personnel
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Air/Water/Wastewater Monitoring
  • Public Utility Commission of Texas: Personnel to coordinate with utility providers throughout the threat area
  • Railroad Commission of Texas: Oversees the state's natural gas supply and communicates with the oil and gas industry
  • Texas Education Agency: Monitors school district needs across the state
  • Texas Department of Information Resources: Technology Infrastructure Oversight
  • Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Texas VOAD): Coordinating volunteer organizations across the state

Local and state officials are carefully assessing the extent of damage in affected regions. As the impacts of storms and flooding continue across the state and severe weather continues to be forecast, authorities will continue to assess damage and determine immediate resource needs. Additionally, officials will make decisions about the state's eligibility for various forms of federal disaster assistance for affected residents. Additional counties may be added to the declaration at a later date.

To facilitate the damage assessment process, Texans are encouraged to self-report damage to homes, businesses and agriculture through the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT), accessible at Damage.tdem.texas.gov. Information collected through iSTAT helps officials determine immediate resource needs and helps determine eligibility for disaster assistance. The survey is available in both English and Spanish and is accompanied by tutorial videos to streamline the submission process.

Given the ongoing threat of storms and flooding, Texans are encouraged to stay abreast of local forecasts, develop an emergency plan and follow guidance from local authorities. Flood risk information is available at TexasFlood.org, while road conditions are available at DriveTexas.org. For safety tips, individuals can visit TexasReady.gov, and for advice on how to prepare, tdem.texas.gov/prepare is a valuable resource.

Anna Harden

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