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Executive Director’s Report

published: October 4th 2019
by: Bill Hyman
source: ICA of Texas
With most of Texas begging for rain, the Beau-mont/Winnie area got 43” of rain in less than 48 hours. As I write this, the flood waters are just now receding. The number of cattle lost is unknown, since it has been impossible for most ranchers to get to their pastures. For the past five days the Texas Animal Disaster response team has had Chinook helicopters airlifting hay to stranded cattle. Now that the flood waters are going down, ranchers using tractors and airboats are delivering hay to high spots. Hopefully the loss of cattle, equipment and feed will not be great. As we learn more as the flood waters recede, we will inform our members. The shelters that were manned by Agri-Life and the Texas Animal Health Commis-sion (TAHC) were set up as quickly as a site that was accessible and on high ground could be located. During the flooding due to the closure of most highways, ICA set up a line of credit at M&J Feeds in Winnie so the shelters could obtain the items they needed immediately. Our thanks go out to those that donated hay or feed and please keep our southeast Texas folks in your prayers. 
The Ag Disaster Res-ponse Team was formed after Hurricane Ike had hit this same area. It is made up of livestock industry partners, state agencies and federal departments. The team is headed up by the TAHC. We realized the need for such a team during Hurricane Ike, when 99% of the personnel and funding was prioritized for the safety and care of people affected by the disaster. The 1% went to pets and companion animals. Dur-ing Ike, our requests for personnel and funds were ignored by FEMA until weeks later. ICA, our industry partners and state agencies along with tre-mendous support from Texas ranching families ‘carried the mail’ during those trying times.
Texas agriculture realized we needed not only a central operations group for livestock and other animals, but we also needed a quick access to obtain funds. The STAR Fund was then started by the Department of Agriculture so that funds would be available quickly to purchase needed items. Now, each time a disaster occurs the animal disaster team is mobilized with an ag leadership team at the Depart-ment of Public Safety bunker in Austin. ICA has been a member of this team from the beginning. A conference call is initiated each day with all partners and agencies on the line to discuss needs and problems.  Each industry partner has certain duties to accomplish but the most important thing is that we provide feedback from the folks affected by the disaster to the central operations center. We submit their needs and problems to the central team. We have since learned that the information we provided is always timely and sensible. During the flooding at Beaumont the program worked without a hitch even though transportation in the area was almost nonexistent. Hopefully this latest event will be over soon and with a minimal loss of livestock and equipment.

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