The Denton County Office of Emergency Management is one of many Denton County Departments I plan to spotlight this year to help you understand why I am very proud of our almost 2,000 Denton County employees. This series of columns will also help you learn more about the many accomplishments of these departments.
While we are still amid winter weather season, it seemed appropriate to begin with our Emergency Management – a team that coordinates the communication, collaboration, and shared resources behind the scenes every time potential bad weather is headed our direction.
Their charge is to plan for any possibility – whether it is a winter storm like the 2021 Winter Storm Uri we experienced or the operation of a 16-lane vaccination clinic at Texas Motor Speedway that garnered national and international attention. In short, they work to look at every scenario and think, “what if?”
One example that comes to mind is their initiative during Winter Storm Uri. While many of us were trying to stay warm and cope without electricity, they were thinking ahead to when the frozen pipes would thaw and created a state-approved list of plumbers who could respond to the numerous calls that inevitably followed. That list helped many of our communities, educational and other entities begin a recovery process that would have been much longer if they each had to find their own approved list of plumbers.
This team of eight individuals, under the direction of Office of Emergency Management Director Eric Hutmatcher, continually train themselves and others across and beyond Denton County to be prepared for any emergency. Their motto is to be a “one-stop-shop” for all incident-related needs to allow first responders to focus their attention to help those on an emergency scene.
In the past year, they have accomplished several major milestones to continue bringing all Denton County agencies together for better cohesiveness in emergency operations. These milestones include:
Family Assistance Center (FAC) Drill – Needed after mass fatality incidents such as Uvalde.
Denton County’s first Active Threat Summit – Brought in guest speakers from multiple disciplines who shared best practices and lessons learned during incidents they managed.
Denton County’s first annual Preparedness Fair – Brought agencies and our community together to show it takes the whole community to always maintain a state of readiness for all hazards.
They also assisted local jurisdictions with training and exercise for such scenarios as active shooter, cybersecurity, terrorist attacks, and more. We fervently hope and pray none of this training becomes necessary, but it is vital that we be prepared – just in case.
The team also keeps all involved entities, leaders, and first responders up-to-date on each emergency as well as have notifications of weather events available for residents, if they sign up. To receive a notification from the county or the community of their choice, go to dentoncounty.gov/268/Emergency-Notifications.
The Office of Emergency Management also works to identify grant funding before disasters through mitigation and Homeland Security grant programs. This increases resilience and response capabilities while alleviating impact to our residents’ taxpayer dollars. During and after disasters, Emergency Management works to track information for reimbursement to build our communities back stronger while utilizing disaster funding streams, further protecting Denton County taxpayer dollars. And, as you know, this is important to me as your Precinct 4 Commissioner.
This team has earned a number of accolades over the years, most recently the Michael Burgess Congressional Recognition on July 19, 2021, and Senate Resolution No. 112, Texas Senate Recognition by then Senator Jane Nelson on March 3, 2021, for the mega-vaccination clinic; First Time Storm Ready Community Designation in April 2021; the First Time Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Designation in April 2021; and the North Central Texas Council of Governments Regional Cooperation Award.
To put it quite simply, this team’s mission is to help Denton County become the most prepared county in our great State of Texas. That is a mission I can definitely support.
Contact Commissioner Dianne Edmondson by email at [email protected] or phone her at 972-434-3960. You can also stop by her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.