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Jefferson County responds to Imelda impact while community awaits possible federal disaster declaration

The County Commissioners courtroom was full Tuesday morning with mosquito experts, debris removal techs and emergency management personnel; even Sheriff Zena Stephens was present as everyone waited to hear the recent news and relief efforts that the county was going to offer several people still stuck in survival mode, shock and awe.

Assessing damage, crisis management, mobile medical attention and debris removal toped the list of responsibilities the county is leading over the next several weeks.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said he has had teams in place since Tuesday surveying unincorporated areas and districts to determine the number of homes effected by the storm.

“We’ll await the federal disaster declaration to see if individual assistance is going to be available,” he said. “It’s at that point that we’ll know whether there will be help from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Federal Disaster Assistance Supplemental Programs. If so, we’ll set that up with the Department of State Help Services.

“When the president signs the Presidential Disaster Declaration, Imelda will be given a number and once it’s given a number, then people will be able to go register for individual assistance either online or through FEMA’s 1-800 number.”

Branick said before the declaration can be signed the area has to reach the threshold of 800 uninsured homes receiving at least 18 inches of water across the 12 counties that were declared a disaster by Governor Greg Abbott.

While Jefferson County waits for the signing of the declaration, they have begun providing their own resources where possible.

“We’re doing damage assessments,” Branick said. “We’re overseeing the points of distribution of water and ice down in the various areas, monitoring the shelter and feeding operations, providing medical assistance to the indignant community and those who were in the floodwaters with hepatitis A and tetanus shots and doing debris removal and management.”

Debris removal will begin Saturday with DRC Emergency Services and Tetra Tech combining to provide 10-12 trucks across the county in three different rounds. Residents should monitor the Jefferson County website for updates on debris removal, regulations and what items need to be segregated.

A mobile medical vehicle has also been launched in the county to provide free shots for citizens who spent time wading in floodwaters. Christus Promptu Urgent Care in Beaumont is providing free tetanus shots for first responders across the county with proper identification.

Texas Baptist Men are also in assistance with Red Cross and have set up a feeding unit at First Baptist Church in Nederland, where they will begin cooking and distributing food to those in need. The organization also provides help removing sheetrock, treating mold, moving debris from homes to the curb and installing tarps on damaged roofs.

To request assistance from Texas Baptist Men call 972-638-6987, 972-639-6988 or email tbmdoc@tbmtx.org.

For Red Cross assistance call 1-866-526-8300 and pick option three. For help mucking out homes and debris removal register at crisiscleanup.org.

“We send in a report everyday to the Texas Division of Emergency Management in accordance with the National Incident Management System and Incident System,” Branick said. “We’re reporting everyday to get these numbers right and begin assisting our community.”