Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Weathering the Storm: Aransas County Road & Bridge

Elle Moralez and her husband Caleb evacuated Rockport, Texas, at 4 a.m. in the morning on Friday, August 25, and Hurricane Harvey hit the small town at 8 p.m. that night. They had no idea what was happening to their house or their town. Elle caught an image on the news of the boat barn near their house that had been destroyed, so they knew the storm had passed over the area.

Luckily, a neighbor who’d stayed walked down the street filming the houses that weekend, so they got to see their house—still standing—on Sunday. They returned home on Monday and took stock of the damages not only to their home, but to the town. They were able to work on their home Tuesday, but on Wednesday they were both called in to work.

Aransas Co Road & Bridge
Wednesday also happened to be Elle’s first day at Aransas County Road & Bridge. The crew was so busy that for a couple of weeks, they didn’t even know Elle’s name or that she worked with them. Elle had never worked for a city or a department like this-- especially not during a catastrophic event like Hurricane Harvey--so her on-the-job training was incredibly intense.  Road & Bridge is one of the most important departments during and after a storm; they were working non-stop on recovery as well as handing out permits for rebuilding.

“They used to talk about how we did five permits a week? We do about fifty a day,” said Moralez.

Inside the R&B Building
There was no time to fill out paperwork. Their building was flooded and had no electricity. In fact, when Elle was shown her office it was done with laughter, since the ceiling had opened up over her desk and it was completely unusable. While the R&B crew were running non-stop, Elle was lucky to get office supplies and a place to sit to do her regular work, much less the extra paperwork necessary to receive FEMA reimbursement.

Luckily, Elle Moralez and the crew at Aransas County had help on the way. The Texas A&M UniversitySystem’s Rebuild Texas initiative brought volunteers from system partner Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) to help her with paperwork as well as helping her learn how to do it herself. Next on the horizon are the other departments in Aransas County.

As for Elle, she’s coping. “I’m still trying to learn my regular job on top of all of the Harvey stuff,” reported Moralez. ”Really I’m just paddling through every single day.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Idaho Firefighter Trains at TEEX Municipal Fire School

In July in College Station, all eyes turn to the skies over Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service's (TEEX) Brayton Fire Training Field. Firefighters of all stripes turn up for the Annual Fire Schools, and this year, Donnelly, Idaho firefighter Michael Murphy was one of them.
Murphy had heard about TEEX from others in his Idaho rural fire department, but what drew him was the specialized training. "I'm taking the Pump Maintenance class. That's kind of the reason that I came. I have never seen it available anywhere."

What sold Michael, though, was the facility. "As far as what's different about TEEX? We have a fire academy in Donnelly as well, but it's just a very, very, VERY, very shrunk down version of this. This is incredible. I love it!"

Now Michael's already planning for next year and he's already got his class picked out: Pump Operations. "Even after just taking the Pump Maintenance class, I'm thinking that the training is more accurate. Plus, they've already said some things about pump operations that we aren't doing that I'm planning on taking back."

A former submariner, Michael served in the Navy for twenty years and missed the camaraderie after getting out. When he joined the Donnelly Rural Volunteer Fire Department ten years ago, he found it again.

"When I walk into my fire department, I hear, 'Murph!' Here, I walk out of my room at the La Quinta, I hear 'Idaho'! And everybody's yelling. It's really cool." He must mean the training because it can't be for the balmy temps, right? Here's a photo Michael sent his 90 year old dad.

See you next year, Michael!

Unique course content along with hands-on training from subject matter experts are only two of the reasons our training is so highly reviewed by our students. If you're interested in learning about TEEX's training, visit our Annual Schools website

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Burglar Proof Your Home #8: Insurance Claims

One other thing that you really can do that helps law enforcement and will help you in your insurance claim, should you fall victim to burglary. You've spent a lot of time and effort putting nice televisions, stereos, personal belongings in your home. Most of those have manufactures, model numbers and serial numbers. So my recommendation is create you a chart where you can write down the items.

Write down the manufacturer, the model number, the serial number and how much you paid for it. Get yourself an established value. Inventory everything because you never know what your insurance company may ask you for when you're filing for a loss. Once you've created that spread sheet take that next step and print it out and secure it somewhere else. There's nothing more disheartening than to realize you've taken all the time to make the spreadsheet and it’s in your computer and that was the item that was stolen.

So always having a hard copy is a good thing. It will sure make your job a lot easier, it will make law enforcement's ability to recover stolen items a lot better if they have models and serial numbers and values.

Watch all the home safety videos by TEEX Law Enforcement's Kyle McNew:

6.) Burglar Proof Your Home #6: Garage Doors
7.) Burglar Proof Your Home #7: Alarm Systems
8.) Burglar Proof Your Home #8: Insurance Claims

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