COLLEGE STATION, Texas — People and agencies of The Texas A&M University System have proven to be profoundly effective during search and rescue operations immediately following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. Now, as the System and state move into the recovery phase following Harvey’s destruction, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp took the time to highlight some of the accomplishments of the brave women and men who worked tirelessly for fellow Texans who were affected by the historic storm.
“So many people within the seven agencies and eleven universities of The Texas A&M University System put themselves in harm’s way to serve the state and the save the lives of their fellow Texans since Harvey slammed into our coastal communities,” Chancellor Sharp said. “I am filled with pride over the Texas A&M University System employees who sacrificed in service to Texas.”
Some of the exceptional work includes work by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, Texas Task Force 1, Texas A&M Forest Service, the Veterinary Emergency Team and countless members of faculties of universities in the System.
Texas Task Force 1 and supporting federal and state partners conducted rescues and other operations in 25 Texas counties during 22 days of deployment that spanned from Aug. 24 to Sept. 14. During that time, responders helped thousands of Texans. Here are some key numbers:
• 12,982 people rescued
• 35,046 people evacuated
• 4,354 Shelter-in-Place checks on individuals
• more than 2,000 pets and animals rescued or evacuated to safety.
Texas Task Force 1 helicopter search and rescue technicians supported Texas Military Department helicopters, responding to more than 100 air missions in support of local jurisdictions. At the peak, there were 2,433 personnel under the control of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service/Texas Task Force 1. They came from 103 different agencies and organizations across Texas and the U.S. Their missions occurred in the air, water and land.
Texas A&M Forest Service mobilized a total of nearly 1,437 people, with the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Lone Star State Incident Management Team having a presence in places such as Rockport, Victoria, Beeville and several other points of distribution throughout the affected area.
Further, Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System resources, which were under Texas A&M Forest Service management, was responsible for thousands of rescues that involved included 44 boats and 136 engines. Forest service teams also extinguished approximately 100 structure fires.
Since the storm, Texas A&M Forest Service began providing the technological infrastructure on which the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, which was established by Gov. Greg Abbott and is headed by Chancellor Sharp, will operate. A Geospatial Information System-based application will serve as an easily accessible, online, common operating picture and conduit for information to flow between local, state and federal entities about local needs and the resources to meet them. So far, Texas A&M Forest Service GIS specialists trained 112 AgriLife Extension County Agents on using the application.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has taken on the role to be the designated local point of contact for local officials as rural communities assess their recovery needs. Now in the recovery phase, county agents will be relying on their long-established relationships and reputations across the state as the rebuilding of the damage commences. Agents will be working closely with county judges and commissions, mayors, school superintendents and emergency managers to disseminate information about available recovery resources and help raise awareness of local recovery needs and issues. So far, a wide range of issues are being reported. They include a range that extends from a need for immediate temporary housing, to replacement of roads and bridges.
In the first two weeks after the storm, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension helped establish, staff and collect and distribute supplies for 13 animal supply points, fielded nearly 5,000 phone calls from across the country from people who want to donate hay, feed and supplies and coordinated daily with Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas Army National Guard and agriculture industry partners to get supplies to where they were needed.
The Veterinary Emergency Team, or VET, from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University provided care for search and rescue dogs from Texas Task Force 1. The team also saved several animals from flooded areas. Officials at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences noted that the response after the storm was truly a college-wide effort, as members of the veterinary community took on additional hours and responsibilities to care for animals in College Station.
Texas A&M University System faculty also have been working long hours since the storm hit. Some, like Terry Gentry of AgriLife Research’s department of soil and crops sciences, have tested floodwater for contaminants. Others have provided warnings about safety issues in affected areas, including M. Sam Mannan, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University, who has been monitoring potential problems at chemical factories in flooded parts of the state. While others – such as Sam Brody, the director of the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M University’s Galveston campus – have spoken to countless media outlets and provided valuable information and perspective to the public.
As the recovery moves forward, Chancellor Sharp in his role as head of Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas will continue to highlight the important work of people across the Texas A&M University System and other entities throughout the state. Updates will be available on the commission’s website at http://www.rebuildtexas.today.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.55 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 148,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $972 million in FY 2016 and helped drive the state’s economy.
Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(512) 289-2782 cell