Posts tagged “emergency management

Last May’s tornado showed we should be vigilant

By Brian Hilton, Emergency Management Coordinator

Last May, a tornado battered several neighborhoods along a two-mile path in Bryan, damaging more than 150 homes. No major injuries were reported, but the dangerous storm served as a wake-up call for the Bryan-College Station community.

Our area has had its share of funnel clouds and tornado scares over the years, but we’ve managed to escape any loss of life or catastrophic damage. In fact, straight line winds and microbursts have caused more property damage here than twisters.

Although strong tornadoes are uncommon in our area, that doesn’t mean a deadly tornado couldn’t happen. And as last May’s storm proved, even small twisters have the potential to be violent.

The National Weather Service rated the Bryan tornado as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds estimated at 110 miles per hour. Since 2000, Brazos County has experienced at least 10 small tornadoes, with four rated EF-1 (wind speeds of 86-110 mph) and the rest EF-0 (under 85 mph).

In December 2006, an EF-1 tornado moved south to north for five miles across central College Station and did considerable damage to an apartment complex on FM2818 and several businesses along Southwest Parkway and Texas Avenue. Three people suffered injuries.

An outbreak of a dozen or more tornadoes in the Houston Area in November 1992 — which included an EF-4 in Channelview — shows that we are not immune. Texas leads the nation with an average of 137 tornadoes each year.

More than 60 percent of these storms occur from April to June.

Our near misses and the devastation we saw in Louisiana earlier this month are vivid reminders of why it’s important to know how to prepare and react to a tornado.

These links provide in-depth information about what to do before, during and after a tornado:

National Weather Service videos:

Stay Informed

Bryan and College Station do not have outdoor tornado sirens. College Station voters defeated a proposition to fund sirens in the 1990 bond election.

When severe weather approaches, pay close attention to local radio and television stations. They do an excellent job of providing pertinent information, including tornado watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service, but tornadoes can occur even if a watch or warning has not been issued.

In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. If a violent storm approaches the Bryan-College Station area, these are the best ways to monitor events and get timely information:

Recommended Mobile Apps

Some useful mobile apps are available for smartphones and tablets. Many of these have emergency alert capabilities. Here are some recommended apps that you can find in your favorite app store:

  • American Red Cross Tornado App (free)
  • FEMA (free)
  • NOAA Weather Radio ($3.99)
  • NOAA Radar Pro ($1.99)
  • iMap Weather Radio (free and paid versions)
  • MyWarn ($9.99)

Just because tornadoes have been rare in our area doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and well-prepared. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and we should always stand ready to handle whatever comes our way.


About the Author

Brian Hilton has been the City of College Station’s emergency management coordinator since 2003 when he retired as sergeant first class after 20 years in the United States Army. He also serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee for the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Hilton attended Columbia College in Columbia, Mo.


 

Photo Copyright: solarseven/123RF Stock Photo

 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Jan. 12)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Jan. 12. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:02 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:03 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

No items were pulled from the consent agenda for workshop discussion.

6:47 p.m.

Roadway Impact Fees

The council discussed the recently adopted roadway impact fees. No action was taken.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:09 p.m.

Spring Creek Local Government Corporation

The council discussed forming a non-profit government corporation to promote economic development anchored by the Spring Creek Corporate Campus, College Station’s next business park. The council’s Economic Development Committee recommended the action in December.

Additional council action will be required to activate the corporation, including the transfer of property into the corporation and funding the corporation’s activities.

The city purchased the Spring Creek Campus property in 2000 and 2001 to develop the business park and protect existing greenways along Spring Creek as part of the Greenways Master Plan. The city purchased additional acreage for an electrical substation and the preservation of greenways north of the substation. The total size is about 484 acres, which includes about 260 acres for private development. The corporation will oversee that development.

The corporation also will have the power to acquire, own, and dispose of real estate subject to the approval of the city council and may also authorize improvements to real estate, including basic infrastructure, streets, buildings and signage. The initial board of directors will consist of the mayor as president, with the others being members of the city council, city officers or residents the council determines to have beneficial expertise.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:14 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items, and committee reports. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

7:27 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:32 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Ben Roper recognized Marine Lance Cpl. Elias Torrez III as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 21-year-old Veribest native died April 9, 2004, from hostile fire in Anbar Province, Iraq.

7:33 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Reappointed Brian Hilton as the city’s emergency management coordinator.
  • A $114,574.35 contract with Brazos Paving for the rehabilitation of the Lemon Tree Park parking lot.
  • A $128,486 bid with TSE International for a trailer-mounted underground puller.
  • The second renewal of price agreement not to exceed $163,620 with Brazos Paving for cement stabilized sand.
  • A $359,000 contract with Civil Engineering Consultants for design and construction phase services related to Southside Safety Improvements along Park Place, Holik, Glade, and Anna Streets.

7:40 p.m.

Land Use Change in Pooh’s Park

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the land use designation from Urban Mixed-Use to Urban for about six acres in the Pooh’s Park Subdivision southwest of the Holleman Drive-Lassie Lane intersection. The change will accommodate a multi-family infill development.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:45 p.m.

Rezoning in Pooh’s Park

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the rezoning from General Commercial to Planned Development District for about six acres in the Pooh’s Park Subdivision southwest of the Holleman Drive-Lassie Lane intersection. The change will accommodate a multi-family infill development.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:46 p.m.

BioCorridor Board Appointment

The council voted unanimously to appoint Casey Oldham as one of two Planning & Zoning Commission representatives on the BioCorridor Board of Directors.

7:58 p.m.

Board and Commission Appointments

The council made the following board and commission appointments (I’ll add the names shortly):

  • B/CS Library Committee: Jon Anderson, Mary Troy
  • Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Advisory Board: Joanna Kaspar, Philip Lasley
  • Construction Board of Adjustments: Bill Mather (chair)
  • Design Review Board: Susan McGrail, William McKinney, Valerian Miranda
  • Historic Preservation Committee: Marilyn Randall, Andrea Smith, Chantal Vessali, Benjamin Zimmer, Katherine Edwards (chair)
  • Joint Relief Funding Review Committee: John Nichols
  • Parks and Recreation Board: Don Hellriegel (chair)
  • Planning and Zoning Commission: Johnny Burns (full), Jeremy Osborne (full), Keith Williamson (unexpired)
  • Zoning Board of Adjustments: Dennis Christiansen (regular), Jeffrey Mazzolini (regular), Bill Lartigue (alternate), Rene Ramirez (alternate)

7:58 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, Jan. 26.


14316755_10108798313965164_2904942172107966680_nAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also been a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.



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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 14)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 14. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:19 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:20 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. No items were pulled for discussion.

6:49 p.m.

Emergency Preparedness

The council heard a presentation about regional search and rescue assets as well as emergency preparedness resources, operational capacity, and guidelines.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council: (more…)


5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (about 6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Emergency Preparedness: In the workshop, the council will hear a presentation about the area’s search and rescue capabilities and emergency response resources.
  2. 2014 CouncilReplacement Bomb Suits: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider approving the $64,000 purchase of two new explosive ordnance device suits. The Police Department’s current bomb suits have expired.
  3. Luther Street Rehabilitation: The council will consider a $1.1 million contract for the reconstruction of Luther Street from Harvey Mitchell Parkway to Penberthy Road. The project will also relocate a waterline.
  4. Rock Prairie Road Widening: The council will consider a $3.94 million contract to improve the capacity of Rock Prairie Road and align additional lanes with the State Highway 6 overpass. The project will extend from Normand Drive to several hundred feet east of the highway. Improvements include concrete pavement, sidewalks, and a new traffic signal at Longmire Drive.
  5. Veterans Park Athletic Complex Build-out: The council will consider a $390,000 contract for engineering services related to design and construction of Phase 1 of the Veterans Park and Athletic Complex Build-Out. The project includes two new synthetic turf athletic fields, lighting, parking, and amenities, and would be financed through the Hotel Tax Fund.

(more…)


Severe Weather Week marks start of tornado season

 

Editor’s Note: Gov. Greg Abbott has proclaimed this as Severe Weather Awareness Week. This blog was originally published on April 30, 2014 under the headline “Tornado preparation is important – even in BCS.”

By Brian Hilton, Emergency Management Coordinator

The Bryan-College Station area has had its share of funnel clouds and tornado scares over the years, but we’ve managed to escape any loss of life or catastrophic damage. In fact, straight line winds and microbursts have caused more property damage here than twisters.

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock PhotoAlthough strong tornadoes are uncommon in our area, that doesn’t mean a deadly tornado couldn’t happen. And even small tornadoes have the potential to be violent.

Since 2000, Brazos County has experienced nine small tornadoes, with three rated F1 (wind speeds of 73-122 mph) on the Fujita scale and the rest F0 (under 73 mph). In December 2006, a F1 tornado moved south to north for five miles across central College Station and did considerable damage to an apartment complex on FM2818 and several businesses along Southwest Parkway and Texas Avenue. Three people suffered injuries.

(more…)


Ebola has influenced preparedness of local first responders

By Lt. Chuck Fleeger, College Station Police Department, and Eric Dotson, College Station Fire Marshal

Ebola.  

The topic has dominated recent news reports, even on the local level. A virus that originated halfway across the globe has impacted lives in many countries and has affected people in our own state. 

Copyright: roxanabalint / 123RF Stock PhotoWe’ve been blessed not to have any instances of Ebola in our community, but recent events have influenced how we educate and prepare our first responders. While the risk of our dealing directly with the Ebola virus is low, it’s important for the men and women of the College Station Police and Fire Departments to be ready if we need to respond to an Ebola-related situation.

Dispatchers are the key (more…)