Gov. Rick Perry Thursday issued a disaster declaration in response to the significant threat posed by Tropical Storm Gustav to 61 Texas counties. The governor's declaration allows the state to initiate necessary preparedness efforts, such as pre-deploying resources requested by local officials to ensure their communities are ready to respond to severe weather.
The counties include: Angelina, Aransas, Austin, Bee, Bexar, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Colorado, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, El Paso, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Hardin, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Lubbock, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Potter, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Shelby, Smith, Starr, Tarrant, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Victoria, Waller, Walker, Webb, Wharton and Willacy beginning August 27, 2008, and continuing. Governor Perry has also requested a Declaration of Emergency from the President of the United States for the same counties.
The governor has called on state resources to prepare for Tropical Storm Gustav, which is expected to strengthen as it enters the Gulf of Mexico over the Labor Day weekend. All state resources are ready for rapid deployment as necessary, and volunteer organizations are prepared to provide mass care support for residents.
"Texas is closely following Gustav's track as it approaches the Gulf and we are preparing for any potential impact on our communities," said Gov. Perry. "I urge Texans along the coast to monitor this storm closely, heed warnings from their local leaders, and take necessary precautions to protect their families, homes and businesses."
According to the National Weather Service, all Gulf States are in the projected path of Tropical Storm Gustav, which is expected to become a hurricane later today. Once Gustav reaches the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to strengthen before making landfall.
Texas has taken the following actions:
Texas Military Forces: Up to 5,000 guardsmen and 19 aerial resources are on standby for deployment as needed.
Texas Engineering Extension Service: Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 are on standby if search and rescue capabilities are needed.
Department of Public Safety: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers are on standby to inspect buses that may be used in potential evacuations.
Department of State Health Services: The Multi-Agency Coordination Center is activated and will provide planning and response for health issues throughout the storm's potential impact. All hospitals are reporting their bed capacity and potential need for evacuation twice a day. DSHS has also arranged for a medical special needs shelter.
Health and Human Services Commission: HHSC is working with the state's information and referral centers to increase capacity for an expected surge in calls to the 2-1-1 system to register for transportation assistance.
Department of Family and Protective Services: The agency is making sure foster parents and residential providers have updated emergency plans and know how to notify the state of their new location if they need to evacuate.
Department of Aging and Disability Services: Staff at the Richmond and Lufkin state schools are monitoring the storm and making preparations to ensure adequate staffing to shelter in place or evacuate if necessary.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs: Hurricane housing resources for communities are on the agency's website. TDHCA is reminding all affordable housing rental owners statewide to keep their apartment vacancy information current as they supply information to TDHCA.
Texas Department of Agriculture: The agency has identified commodities that are available for distribution should it be necessary, and is coordinating with the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials, additional public water supply and wastewater specialists, and a self contained mobile command post trailer with interoperable radio communications and satellite/wireless internet connections is on standby.
Texas Workforce Commission: All Texas coastal workforce centers remain open.
Texas Department of Transportation: Dynamic message signs are being used to urge residents along the coast to fuel up their vehicles. TxDOT personnel are also sweeping roadside shoulders and patching pavement along potential evacuation routes.
Fuel Team: Fuel supply trucks and trailers are on standby to ensure adequate fuel supplies. The industry reminds Texans to maintain fuel in their personal vehicles.
Individuals with special needs can let responders know who and where they are before an emergency or evacuation takes place by calling 2-1-1.
The Emergency Management Council and State Operations Center are fully activated. The State Operations Center is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Gustav and holding twice daily conference calls with federal, state and local officials, private industry partners, volunteer organizations, and the National Weather Service.