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In the News: News from July 2017

Homeland Security Strategic Framework guides future planning

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A newly established Homeland Security Strategic Planning Framework defines the capacity and resiliency to support emergency preparedness, efficient disaster response, recovery, and long-term economic sustainability of the communities in CAPCOG’s ten-county region. Adopted by the CAPCOG Executive Committee in June, the framework guides future regional homeland security planning to address current and new challenges.

“Homeland security threats have changed significantly since CAPCOG drafted its first Homeland Security Strategic Plan in 2004,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG homeland security director. “While the threat of terrorism remains and the hazards we have always faced are still present, we are seeing more pronounced risks in the areas of cybersecurity, and area-wide complex, coordinated attacks.” The strategic framework identified eight significant hazards to the region’s population and economy to include traditional Central Texas threats such as flooding and wildfire, but it also calls attention to growing modern threats such as cyberattacks. It also identified several training and planning areas that could positively impact response and recovery if those hazards occurred. Among those areas included were greater public education, data sharing, and further expansion of automatic aid agreements.

To help implement planning efforts throughout the region, seven committees were proposed to work in different focus areas that will assist with the development of regional planning, training, and public outreach activities. They will work under the guidance of the Homeland Security Task Force, a CAPCOG advisory committee consisting of 27 emergency management coordinators and emergency response officials. “By maintaining some of the Homeland Security Task Force’s standing committees and establishing new ones like the technology and communications committee, the framework is helping shape how we interact as a region to better mitigate all incidents in our communities,” Carter said.

Identifying the hazards and the additional capacity needed in the region, the strategic framework also assists in prioritizing grant funding and provides direction to local jurisdictions about which projects and equipment proposals may meet criteria for recommendations for grant funding from the State Homeland Security Program. Each year, CAPCOG through the Homeland Security Task Force prioritizes projects for the Office of the Governor that address an identified threat or hazard, demonstrate a regional approach, and either sustains or expands existing homeland security programs.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Texas General Land Office releases 2015 flood funds

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Source: Texas General Land Office and Texas Association of Regional Councils

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is administering $25.6 million in recovery funds for home and infrastructure projects that were affected by the 2015 floods. The funds also will allow communities to implement mitigation efforts for future disasters. Eligible entities including cities, counties, and local housing authorities in the impact areas will have until Nov. 10, 2017 to apply for funding.

Flooding from the 2015 disaster affected 116 counties in Texas, which are home to nearly 21 million people, but the $25.6 million in funds from the GLO’s Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program are eligible to entities in 112 counties. The most impacted counties, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, and Travis, received dedicated portions of the total $59.6 million awarded to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Counties that can apply for the remaining CDBG-DR funds in the CAPCOG region include Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, and Williamson.

Funds will be awarded based on scoring and ranking of submitted project applications. Entities may submit three applications; only two of the three may be for non-housing projects. GLO will work with impacted counties to maximize the number of long-term recovery projects that can be completed given the limited funding.

Applications for housing projects should be between $500,000 and $2 million. Housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Single family and multifamily repair, rehabilitation, or new construction
  • Repair and replacement of manufactured housing units
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Elevation
  • Buyouts
  • Planning activities related to housing
  • Other activities associated with the recovery of impacted housing stock

Applications for non-housing projects should be between $100,000 and $1 million. Non-housing activities allowed under CDBG-DR include but are not limited to:

  • Restoration of infrastructures such as water and sewer facilities, streets, and bridges
  • Provision of generators
  • Removal of debris
  • Drainage
  • Demolition, rehabilitation of publicly or privately owned commercial or industrial buildings, and code enforcement
  • Planning activities related to non-housing

> Apply for funding or get more information.
> Read the full release about the funding.
> Learn which counties received a Presidential Disaster Declaration from the 2015 floods.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

 

OOG appropriates $25 million for officer rifle-resistant vest program

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Source: Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD) made $25 million available to law enforcement agencies to equip peace officers with rifle-resistant body armor through a new grant program. The deadline to apply for funds is Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.

Funds from the grant program, Rifle-Resistant Body Armor, may be used by local jurisdictions to purchase bullet-resistant personal body armor compliant with the National Institute of Justice standard for rifle protection to include bulletproof vests, ballistic plates, and plate carriers. 

The grant is available to Texas Department of Public Safety, municipalities, counties, independent school districts, universities, public and private colleges and universities, federally recognized Native American tribes, community colleges and hospital districts if they operate a law enforcement agency. Any applications must be submitted by the entity operating the law enforcement agency, not the agency itself.

Applying jurisdictions will not have to provide a grant match and there is no minimum or maximum request under the Rifle-Resistant Body Armor Grant Program. However, CJD plans to provide resources to as many departments as possible. All projects that receive funding must begin between Jan. 1 and Mar. 1, 2018 and not exceed 12 months.

> For more information, contact the eGrants help desk at eGrant@gov.texas.gov or 512-463-1919.
> Read the full grant announcement and learn how to apply.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Criminal Justice Program.

Care facilities now required to have emergency preparedness plans

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Long-term care facilities, hospices and home health agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding must complete disaster planning by November 2017 including a risk assessment and an emergency plan. Emergency managers from Williamson County and its cities are assisting with this requirement, part of new federal rules which took effect at the end of 2016.

"This regional support is invaluable to the service providers," said Patty Bordie, Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area a division of CAPCOG. “Emergency manager expertise ensures patient-centered plans which include best practices in emergency preparedness.”

The rule also requires some of those organizations to complete a communications plan and emergency policies and procedures, but they all must update their plans and conduct exercises annually to participate in Medicaid and Medicare. These tasks are not as simple as stating you will contact your local emergency management office if a disaster occurs, said Dorothy Miller, Round Rock emergency management coordinator. These are complex tasks to prepare these organizations to respond to all types of emergencies.

Personnel from approximately 45 facilities participated in a forum with Williamson County area emergency managers as they explained the rule and described their roles and the four stages of a disaster. “The forum was really successful,” Miller said. “We had an open discussion about their concerns and what they needed from us. It was nice to work with them and guide them through the process. Now they have a better understanding of what the requirement does.”

Emergency managers distributed booklets with planning templates covering all types of hazards during the forum, while jurisdictional group sessions allowed emergency managers to answer questions and discuss realistic expectations of what local offices can do for the organizations pre and post disaster.

Networking was another great outcome of the forum, said Ron Weaver, Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council emergency preparedness and response coordinator, who attended the forum. “It is always better to know who you are working with, so you are not working with a stranger.” Because of the forum, these organizations have a starting point for building partnerships that support and learn from each other. They also can respond to incidents together instead of relying on themselves and their local emergency offices. “Emergency preparedness plans are extremely valuable to care facilities,” he said. “By instituting a plan and practicing it, these facilities are making their operations safer for their patients, their patients’ families, and their staff.” Other CAPCOG counties are considering hosting similar meetings to help local care facility providers.

> Learn about CATRAC.
> Find information about the new federal rule.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

Workshop series curbs solid waste cost for communities

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A three-part workshop training series explores how local communities can reduce the cost of their solid waste programs by delving into three common issues. Conducted in June, the first workshop in the series, “Full Cost Accounting for Municipal Solid Waste Services,” addressed how collecting data and establishing rates could affect the bottom-line cost of providing solid waste services. The next two workshops, “Cost of Illegal Dumping” and “Commercial Food Waste Collection and Diversion”, will take place on July 26 and Aug. 24 respectively.

“Illegal dumping is a pervasive and costly solid waste problem for many departments within our counties and cities,” said Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services regional program coordinator. “Besides being unsightly and unsafe, illegal dumpsites are expensive to mitigate. Food waste also is expensive for communities as it is one of the largest components appearing in waste streams in the United States. Less than five percent of food waste that can be diverted from landfills is.”

Each workshop examines the history of the issues before discussing best practices and local and regional collaborative approaches that can help reduce a community’s solid waste costs. These workshops are funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and facilitated by the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

> Register to attend the free workshops.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Program.

Crisis communications training enhances emergency response

Friday, July 07, 2017

Emergency Telecommunicators can receive incident specific crisis communications training through two courses CAPCOG is hosting by popular demand. “Suicide Intervention for 9-1-1 Professionals” and “High Risk!” work to improve communications and awareness skills during high stress incidents and to further ensure a caller’s and/or emergency responders’ safety. The courses will be held July 17 and July 18.

“National trends for the emergencies covered in these courses are curving upward, and training and practice is the best away to prepare to answer these forms of crisis communications,” said Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG public safety answering point specialist. The “High Risk!" course shares vital lessons learned from when emergency personnel responds to incidents such as ambushes, felony traffic stops, domestic violence, and home robberies. The suicide course examines the eighth leading cause of death in the United States by exploring the myths and facts of suicide, developing suicide specific communications techniques, and performing suicide risk assessments. For every completed suicide, there are 50 other people who call 9-1-1 or prevention hotlines for help.

“These courses help recognize red flags and help deescalate the situation and eliminate surprises for first responders,” Dean said.

> Contact Dean to inquire about joining these training courses.
> Find other emergency telecommunicators training courses.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

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