Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Multi-agency tri-County Winter Weather Prparedness Meeting, 11/15/2015 1:30 PM Presidio County Courthouse

Tri-County Emergency Preparedness- Winter Weather meeting
12/15/2015 1:30 PM

Judge Guevara presides, Judge Duer from Jeff Davis County present
Judge Cano from Brewster County was unable to make it.

Multiple agencies presenting:

Carlos Carlona from El Paso presents:
Winter Weather preparedness is primary topic.

National Weather Service: Mark Strobin presenting
Expect to have strongest El Niño on record. Should decrease rapidly over the summer. La Niña expected next summer. 
El Niño pulls jet stream towards the south. Colder air. Storms follow jet stream.
El Niño mostly affects winter and spring. Wet and colder. Sea surface temperatures are a major factor in whether we have an El Niño or not. Predicted to have more snow and rain for this year. 
So far we have had an extremely warm Dec. Changes coming next week and by Christmas should be quite cold in general. January will be petty rough month, as will Feb.
March, April, May will be wetter than normal. Long severe weather season.
Mountains should expect a greater snowpack this year. 
Warm rain onto the mountain snowpack in Spring could create flooding.
Faux app for smartphones (app but not allowed to be called an app since it is governmental) available
@nwsmidland on Twitter, also on FB.

Steve Chavez with WebEOC
Online incident management software. Tool is free and open for use for approved users. 
Emergency Operations Center: this software creates a virtual EOC. Different decision makers can log in and share information.
Can use during an incident, in this case, a winter incident.
Monitored by the State of Texas on a daily basis.
Access determined by main decision makers in the County.
Different access levels can be set; provides different views.
Counties can request aid from the State on a live basis; faster than any other method.
Capability to share information on shelters, capacity, capabilities. 
This tri-county area currently not utilizing WebEOC. Use can integrate us with the rest of the State.

Frank Rodriguez- Rio Grande Electric Coop, Alpine. Have been working on maintenance to power lines to alleviate problems in advance. Have extra contractors in the area to address issues as they come. Backup generator has been recently installed in the office to insure office can stay operational during an outage. Judge Guevara asks how RGEC is notified when power in remote areas go out. FR says there are remote methods of notification, and that members are also very responsive to tell them when power is out. The line to Candelaria is very remote and long, so finding the actual problem on that line sometimes is a problem and can take a long time. This year they have already dropped extra poles out in that region to be more responsive. 

Patty Rubio with 211. El Paso Dept of Public Health in El Paso. Work with 6 counties.
Assistance guidelines through calling 211. Includes family and food issues.

Emergency Management Coordinators: 
Gary Mitschke: Presidio County
Bart Medley: Jeff Davis County- importance of EMC's knowing what's going on. Sharing resources between counties, etc. Davis EOC manager is Jim Bauer. 
Van Ostrand: Brewster County. Stresses distance involved make things different than in a largely populated area. 

Texas Emergency Medical Task Force: Steve Surface: part of the Texas Disaster Medical System. Acute Care side of Texas Dept of State Health Services
Ambulance Strike Teams for major evacuations of places like hospitals.
Mass Evacuations in general.
EMTF-9 Ambulance/Bus. Over the road bus that can do 20 patients at one time.
Hospital evacuations, HAZMAT exposures, etc
Substitute for air transports when weather prohibits flying.
RN strike teams.
Mobile Medical Unit- semis and box trucks with equipment, staging tents, etc.- multiple configurations available for different situations.
BBRMC hospital rep asks if it is possible to share resources with another region when this large region gets hit hard, if resources are available. Steve Surface says that other regions can be put on notice and can respond of need be. Also trying to add an AmBus in Midland/Odessa. Held up due to politics and also the AmBus manufacturer has gone out of business. Infectious disease response is being developed to become a part of this service. Working on it, but not yet ready to announce.

TXDOT- James Stevensen. Maintenance engineer for El Paso Region.
De-icing operations, etc. 
59 dump trucks, 10 yd and 6 yd
50 snow plows,
20 de-icing units
54 wax spreaders
Salt and sand
Liquid meltdown material for extreme cold weather
Granular particulate to mix with salt

Worst kind of weather is the Rain and snow wintry mix. 
Try to put down icing materials before the storm. Rain can wash away icing materials before it freezes or snows. Lots of ice on the roads around here. Black ice is most dangerous type.
Snow is a little easier to handle than ice.
Freezing fog in high elevations. 
Storm coordination- usually comes out of El Paso.
Challenges include lack of cell phone services in region. Distances between metropolitan areas. Lack of semi/rig tow trucks in region. Mountains, distances in general. Unpredictability of weather.
El Paso district is by far the largest of the 25 TXDOT districts in the State.
21,700 square miles- larger than 9 states.
In a major regional emergency it is likely that local resources will be tasked northward to I-10 maintenance. This has not yet happened at the expense of local service but it could. 
Gary Mitschke asks how TXDOT gauges to close the roads? 
The decision to close a road is normally by group decision of TXDOT and local leaders, EMS, Sheriffs, etc. Also a resource based decision. 

Closing comments from judges.
Judges thank everyone for taking time out of their day to be here. Refreshments and coffee served. 
Adjourn at 3:42 PM

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