Communication Partner Update - Winter Storm Response 02-25-21 11:30


Kevin McCoy
 

Taking a day off from the Disaster Response and will give you this update from what I know as of last night 20:00.

Like many of you I am spending today on storm clean up. 

Deaths:

The AP is reporting a number of 80 deaths.  The truth is it will probably be a month or two before we know for sure.  What we do know already is that the death toll of this winter storm and its aftermath is more than twice as deadly as Hurricane Laura in the US.  In Harris county alone there were 16 Texans frozen to death.

Power:


Thank you https://poweroutage.us/area/state/texas

Don't believe all comments or reports.  The truth is that all forms of energy, from Wind to Natural Gas were impacted.  Natural Gas was impacted more because it is the largest producer.  The only form of energy that actually improved was solar, but it is a very small fraction of what is produced in the state. 

Water:

The Disaster after the disaster - So as you can see we have still 3.5 million folks that IF they can get water have to boil it. 

Boil water
        Notices

FEMA and State resources have moved an incredible amount of water and food into the state.  But getting it to where it was needed is still a challenge in the Hill Country and some counties out west. 

Water Airlift

Water Air Lift

That means getting water to folks that is safe was a challenge.  And points of distribution and county / city delivery was and is a huge operation.

Some great partners like Anheuser Busch have come through with large quantities of Water to help

AB Water

DAMAGE

I told you all about the self reporting tool and here is a snap shot of the data.  Yes we know many folks do not know about this, that not everybody has the internet, that under-served populations may be uneasy about filling out the form, and folks may overestimate their damage, but it does give us and idea of how much damage is out there.

Self Tracker
        Damage report

FEMA

As you are probably aware Public Assistance is available, and the last time I checked Individual Assistance for things like Rental and Repair are available in 108 counties.  They have jumped on this pretty fast as you can see from this dashboard.  I am not speaking for FEMA here, just looking at the data to see if we can assess how much and where damage or at least FEMA response is.

FEMA data

So that is two perspectives on how much damage is out there.

Response and Sheltering:

We had a rapid close down of most of the Warming Centers, however there are two shelters still open for needs in areas where folks cannot return home or for homes that were unsafe or destroyed.  In the main Red Cross efforts have moved to Recovery.

Austin Shelter

As we started this engagement I am proudest of the work we did for working with partners EMS and law enforcement to transport folks that had medical needs for power to power safe locations. 

Lee County
        Rescue


and I got this wonderful note that I post here.  The background was a Lee County family without power or warming center in their community urgently needed to run their life sustaining medical equipment. Within less than two hours, EMS transported them to a Power Safe Red Cross funded facility.

“You have no idea how grateful we are for all you and the Red Cross have done to help us. You had our concerns and questions addressed before we ever said anything. My husband was in Korea in 1950 and in Vietnam in 1968. Both tours of duty, you the Red Cross were there also. Many thanks for all y'all do.”

These were very high risk folks we were sheltering, and I am sure many lives were saved. One thank you like that makes it all worthwhile.

Recovery Operations:

We have shifted the bulk of our resources and energy to getting Disaster Emergency Supplies to distribution points in areas where we can see the need, or where county and Federal resources are not reaching. 

This job was frankly too enormous for us.  We needed all levels of government to participate.  We were able to prime the pump by getting shelf stable water and meals to many city and county governments while logistics for water and food from the state were worked out.

I will try and get you some shots when I am back on the DR of some of the Points of Distribution that we are supporting.  Clean up Kits, Water, Food, ...

COVID Update:

As you know the Storm set us back in the counties where we are assisting in vaccination.  Overall in the state:

Vaccinations

So that vaccinations virtually stopped during the storm.  We are now back operating, doing 12 hours shifts and I expect we will do even better than early January.  We are already seeing the results now from the first wave of nursing home vaccinations, and deaths from COVID in US nursing homes is now 40% of what it was on Jan 1.  (So down 60% VS overall US numbers which were up 20%)

OK.  Thank you for listening, and giving me a great excuse to take a break from cleaning up!

Questions and suggestions welcome.  I am just one of around 200 Red Crossers on this job.  This is just my perspective.  If you are contributing I would love to hear what you are seeing out there.

Best

Kevin KF5FUZ                                                         Tactical winlink TXRCAUS-DST
DST Lead DR 716-21 TX Winter Storm 2/21 BLI