By Emily Banks Wooten
Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock and Fern Caddenhead presented a program to the Polk County Chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW) during its November meeting.
“Prepare, plan and train are the number one goals but we’ve been pretty busy doing the real thing the last few years,” Comstock said, referring to floods in 2015 and 2016, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Trinity River Flooding in 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the EF3 tornado in Onalaska in 2020 and Hurricane Laura in 2020, in addition to Winter Storm Uri in 2021.
She said the department participates in hurricane training every June and reviews the county’s response plan, in addition to having a full-scale exercise every three years. She provided some interesting hurricane statistics. “There have been seven major hurricanes since 1875 that came within 70 miles of Polk County and nine that came within 30 miles of Polk County since 1900.”
Comstock reviewed the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, or STEAR registry, which is the option to register, for free, to provide local emergency management planners and responders with information related to specific needs during an emergency. She said those who should register are people with disabilities, people who are medically fragile and people with functional needs such as limited mobility or communication barriers or those who require additional medical or personal care assistance or transportation during an emergency event. You may register online at stear.tdem.texas.gov. “It’s best to register in advance so that we can build a relationship prior to a disaster,” she said.
She reviewed the primary points-of-distribution, evacuation routes and shelters, as well as the recommended items everyone should have in their disaster supply kit.
Comstock said when her office distributes emergency public information, it will be via the following methods: AlertMePolkCounty, Polk County OEM Facebook page and Polk County, Texas Facebook page, Polk County, Texas and OEM websites, local radio stations (KETX, KDOL and KSBJ), the Polk County Enterprise’s newspaper, website and Facebook page, the Pineywoods Express and PolkCountyToday.com.
AlertMePolkCounty is the county’s emergency notification system. You may go to the department’s website at polkcountyoem.com to register for the notification system. Emergency alerts include warnings for tornadoes, floods and flash floods, high winds, severe thunderstorms, winter storms, hurricanes or tropical storms, wildfire threats, evacuation, chemical threats and crime alerts. For assistance, contact the emergency management office at 936-327-6826 or visit the office at 602 E. Church St., Ste. 165 in Livingston.