DENTON, Texas – Three out of seven winners in this year’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are from the state of Texas.
The annual awards, which are announced during September’s National Preparedness Month, recognize the innovative practices and achievements of individuals, Citizen Corps Councils, and nonprofit, faith-based, and private sector organizations working throughout the nation to make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to manage any disaster or emergency event.
The seven categories include Outstanding State Citizen Corps Council Initiatives, Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Council Initiatives, Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Initiatives, Outstanding Achievements in Youth Preparedness, Preparing the Whole Community, Awareness to Action and Community Preparedness Heroes.
"I am extremely proud of these organizations and the individuals in Texas who have been recognized nationally by FEMA for their creative initiatives to keep their communities prepared," said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. "Thanks to the selfless dedication of the various volunteer groups across Texas, they are making Texas a safer place to live."
“We applaud our Texas partners for the great work they are doing when it comes to preparedness,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson. “These awards more than demonstrate the commitment that the Lone Star State has to ensuring its citizens are ready for any emergency.”
The Texas awardees include:
- The City of Austin for Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiatives:
Last year, the Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) conducted a community-wide survey to measure how well Austin’s whole community is prepared for major disasters and emergencies. The basic consensus indicated that Austin residents were not well prepared for natural or man-made disasters. Based on these results, the city of Austin’s Community Emergency Response Team greatly enhanced its program by developing six new partnerships to help prepare Austin’s whole community respond to local incidents, and fill gaps that left the Austin community vulnerable in times of emergency. In the past 16 months, members of Austin CERT have worked tirelessly to help maximize their efforts to make their program exemplary. Parts of the program’s success include the Austin CERT Water Utility Partnership, the Austin Fire Department Partnership, Austin's Teen CERT Partnership, the Disaster Ready Austin Preparedness Partnership, and the Austin CERT Podcast.
- The Heart of Texas Citizen Corps Council for Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Council Initiatives:
On the evening of April 17, 2013, a fertilizer plant exploded in West Texas killing 14 people including 12 first responders, injuring hundreds, and destroying houses and buildings. The enormity of this disaster triggered a massive response from first responders as well as volunteers. The volunteer response included no fewer than 10 Citizen Corps teams organized under the Heart of Texas Citizen Corps Council, which is organized and overseen by the Homeland Security Division of the Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG). Local CERT teams in the area contributed over 120 hours of volunteer service and made a significant impact in assisting those in need.
- The Texas School Safety Center for Outstanding Achievements in Youth Preparedness:
The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) developed a statewide approach to emphasize youth preparedness and educate the whole community in disaster preparedness. Through the delivery of a statewide youth summer camp that includes emergency response training, community specific action planning, and leadership development, the TxSSC prepares teams of youth to lead preparedness efforts in their local communities and schools. In June 2012, the TxSSC funded 30 participants, made up of three youth groups and their adult sponsors from across Texas, to attend the 2012 Youth Preparedness Camp. The camp spanned across five days and was held at Schriener University in Kerrville, Texas.
In addition to the three awardees, one Texan, a Texas youth program and a Texas county received honorable mentions for their programs:
- Stephanie Parker for Community Preparedness Heroes
- Texas School Safety Center for Awareness to Action
- Harris County CERT for Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team
“We encourage everyone to take steps now to prepare for emergencies in their homes, schools, organizations, businesses and communities,” Robinson added. “What better time to make this commitment than National Preparedness Month.”
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6 and the R6 Preparedness website at www.fema.gov/region-vi/region-6-preparedness