Every incorporated city in Calhoun County, along with the county, declared a local state of disaster due to the growing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a statewide health disaster for all Texas counties on March 13.
By declaring a State of Disaster, a number of actions are triggered by the Governor, including:
-- Authorizing the use of all available and necessary state government resources to help manage this situation.
-- Activating the state emergency management plan and the State Operations Center to enhance the state’s planning and response capabilities.
-- Giving TDEM the ability to reassign & fully utilize appropriate personnel where they are needed most.
-- Providing the immediate ability to move resources around the state, including resources obtained through the Strategic National Stockpile.
-- Empowering the Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) to pursue cases of price-gouging and ensure that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
-- To protect the most vulnerable population, the Governor also directed state agencies to restrict visitations at certain facilities. This directive allows limited exceptions for situations like end-of-life visitations and requires all individuals to go through proper screening.
Furthermore, it gave local governing authorities the ability to declare a state of disaster in order to be eligible for federal reimbursement of expenses.
A city or county must declare a local state of disaster to be eligible for federal reimbursement. According to the Texas Municipal League (TML), state regulations provide that the mayor must have declared a local state of disaster before the city may request disaster recovery assistance.
“The request must indicate that the disaster is of such magnitude that local resources are inadequate to deal with it, and the affected locality cannot recover without state and/or federal assistance,” according to TML.
In addition, a declaration of local disaster also allows a city to exercise extraordinary emergency powers, to activate the appropriate recovery and rehabilitation aspects of all applicable local or inter-jurisdictional emergency management plans, and, in certain instances, to provide additional liability protection to employees, officers, or volunteer emergency workers, according to TML.
The city of Seadrift declared a state of emergency March 13, city of Point Comfort March 16, Calhoun County and city of Port Lavaca March 17.