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East Texas emergency services describe plans in place for natural disasters

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:17 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - East Texas residents know all too well how quickly a natural disaster can strike. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires are just some of the dangers that Mother Nature can present. Judge Mark Allen of Jasper County has seen it all, and has plenty of experience dealing with the terrible damage these disasters leave behind.

“We’ve seen in Jasper County, we’ve seen wildfires, tornadoes, hurricane evacuations. We’ve been struck by hurricanes, most recently by Hurricane Rita, Ike, Gustav, Harvey, Imelda, Laura, Delta, plus some tropical storms like Tropical Storm Bill,” Allen said.

With the frequency of natural disasters in East Texas, it is important to wonder what kind of plans are in place to mitigate damage and coordinate search and rescue. Lufkin Fire Chief Jesse Moody tackles fire operations during natural disasters, and can boil down the plan to this simple phrase: “If you call, we’ll be there.”

“We have conference calls with the national weather service where we are watching very detailed forecasts instead of the ones that you see on the nightly news, and so we have a very good idea of where it’s going, and we base our response and our preparedness for the response based upon the forecast,” Moody said.

For hurricanes, the chief said that the department changes staffing to 50 percent on, and 50 percent off in order to have every vehicle available. They respond to all calls unless it is absolutely unsafe to do so. Even with emergency services always ready, there are things you can do ahead of time to be better prepared.

“As it approaches, the average citizen needs to make sure they have their medication filled and on hand, plenty of oxygen, plenty of food, and especially water. Plenty of clean drinking water because that can be disrupted very easily,” Moody said.

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