Local agencies pool resources when disaster strikes - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Local agencies pool resources when disaster strikes

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Amarillo, TX - Tornadoes, flooding, and other severe weather in our area and across the state have many concerned about their own safety in the event of a disaster.  Seeing the aftermath of recent tornadoes and wildfires makes a lot of people wonder, 'What if that happens here? Would our needs be met?'

So this afternoon (Jun. 10), our local Red Cross invited the media and Congressman Mac Thornberry for an analysis of how our emergency response system works -- and how it works together.

The panhandle chapter of the Red Cross serves 26 Texas counties and responds to everything from fires to disasters. And as their infrastructure grows, so too does their need for volunteers.

"We're in really good shape, but we're always looking at ways to try and expand those efforts, identify new shelter locations," says Steve Pair, Executive Director of the Panhandle Chapter of the Red Cross.  "But those shelter locations won't do us much good if we don't have the volunteers to run them should we need to open them."

During severe weather like what we saw a couple of weeks ago, the chapter works hand-in-hand with the local Emergency Operations Center and the National Weather Service.  All three agencies constantly feed each other information so the EOC can coordinate the best response.

"All the resources we have, all the weather information, satellite, radar information, we can share with our local emergency managers and our decision-makers," says Jose Garcia, Meteorologist In Charge at the National Weather Service in Amarillo.  "As well as, we're utilizing social media now - Facebook, Twitter posts, things like that, so we can really get the information out to those emergency managers."

U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry was on hand to get a better idea of local emergency management needs, and how those needs could possibly be met through legislation.  And local emergency planners keep a close eye on pending legislation, as Emergency Operations Coordinator Kevin Starbuck explains,

"We're always looking at what types of legislation are coming down, what types of issues that we may need to address, and looking at how we can improve programs based on those types of rules and regulations that may be coming down the pike."

When the hail storm hit Amarillo, the Red Cross already had several volunteers in place for immediate reaction.

If you're interested in volunteering for the Red Cross, you can find out how by following the link attached to this story.