Texas Forest Service (TFS) personnel from around the state have joined their fellow southeast TFS employees in the effort to clear damaged trees and other debris from the roadways in the counties affected by Hurricane Rita.
These crews will work with the 200 USDA Forest Service crew members who have headquartered in the Lufkin TFS office.
“The main highways, while not all open, are clear,” said Don Galloway, plans manager of theTFS Emergency Operations Center. “But, the secondary roads needed for residents to travel to reach supply distribution points still need to be cleared of debris.”
TFS’ Lone Star State Incident Management Team (IMT), based in the Reliant Center/Astrodome in Houston is coordinating the response of state and federal agencies for Hurricane Rita. They are also in charge of setting up points of distribution for food, water and ice in the hard hit areas.
“We are getting more distribution sites established every day,” said Les Rogers, Lone Star State IMT Incident Commander in Houston. “The need for food, water and ice is still great, and the system we have in place is making it easier for people who need basic commodities to get them.”
As of today (9/27), the Lone Star State IMT has coordinated the distribution of 570,000 gallons of water, 2,140 tons of ice and 1,087,200 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
Galloway said that the supplies received at the Reliant Center receiving and distribution hub and sent on to the various distribution sites are getting to one location in each county. However, not everyone is able to travel to those sites. Once the secondary roads are cleared and fuel is more readily available, more residents should have better access to the supplies.
“In a lot of these hard-hit smaller communities, these distribution sites have become the focal point of the community,” said Lone Star State IMT Operations Section Chief Rich Gray. “Consequently, it is important that they be set up in a safe, accessible location.”
Rogers said that an order was placed today for additional supplies in the form of 200 water trucks that hold 4,750 gallons each; 200 ice trucks that each hold 5,000 eight-pound bags of ice; and 50 trucks of MREs, holding 21,744 per truckload. Beginning at midnight, the supplies will arrive 50 trucks a time each hour. They will be processed and then sent out to the critical needs areas.
Approximately 190 TFS personnel are working in various capacities on the Hurricane Rita response. More information about the TFS response to Hurricane Rita can be found on the web site at http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu.