In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and then Rita in 2005 a task force was appointed by the Governor to come up with a plan and a method to identify, track, and assist residents along the Texas Coast, in the event of a hurricane. The task force identified many issues in regards to evacuation, transportation, shelter, and mass care for these individuals. As a result, the Governor signed Executive Order # RP57 on March 21, 2006, and later that year the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) implemented the Transportation Assistance Registry (TAR), utilizing the 2-1-1 Texas network. This registry was primarily focused on jurisdictions along and near the Texas coast and over 130,000 people signed up.
In 2008 Hurricane Ike along with several wildfires and other weather related disasters identified the need for a statewide registry to address more than transportation issues. According to the current census 20-25% of the population, within the state are disabled, have functional needs, access issues, or other medical needs. In addition many lacked transportation in the event of an evacuation. In order to address this matter it was decided to develop a new program, similar to TARs, that would be statewide and it would address all of the potential issues. At the beginning of March 2013, the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) was rolled out by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
On March 6, 2013, all county judges and mayors were notified by letter of this new program and their support was solicited by the division. The City of Live Oak agreed to participate in this program and Mayor Dennis appointed Mr. Gary Woppert, the City's Emergency Management Coordinator as the Data Custodian for the City.
The program is currently up and running however a few issues are still being worked on by the State. The primary one is the web site for citizens to enroll on-line. It is pending and should be up and running sometime in July. As soon as the web site is available we will include it on this page.
The Office of Emergency Management encourages all citizens who have any type of disability, functional need, access issues, or other medical needs to register. This includes those who may lack transportation in the event of an evacuation. At the present time there is only one way to register!
-Dial 2-1-1, the Texas Information Referral Network, also known as the United Way Help Line, and tell the operator you want to register for the Texas STEAR Program.
Callers will be asked several questions starting with your name, address, city, zip code, etc. In addition they will ask you a variety of other questions relating to your physical disabilities such as being confined to a wheelchair or on continuous oxygen. At this point you have the option of providing this information or not sharing it with the call taker. It is your Choice!
The STEAR data base is a secure password protected system with access limited to the Data Custodians within a jurisdiction. In addition the custodian will only have access to those citizens who are registered as living in the City of Live Oak. As such, it is imperative when registering that you provide the call taker with the correct information. They will ask you what City, what County, and what Zip Code you live in. Tell the call taker you live in the City of Live Oak, Bexar County, and Zip Code 78233. Do not give San Antonio as your city because you may end up in their data base. Remember the 78233 Zip Code covers a wide area!
Current City Program:
The City established a program back in 2006 to identify citizens with various needs and we have approximately 30 citizens registered. This program will continue as we evaluate STEAR! If the new program becomes a success like the original TAR program for coastal residents we may discontinue the City's program at some point in the future in favor of STEAR. Our program will continue for the rest of 2013 and possibly longer.
A Very Important Note:
The City program along with STEAR is only a registration program! Basically if we don't know who you are, where you live, and what issues you may have we cannot help you in the event of a disaster. However, the City has limited capabilities to provide you or your family actual assistance in the event of a serious emergency or a disaster like a tornado touchdown. We have a relatively small city staff with limited resources. Emergency personnel will respond quickly but their priorities will be search and rescue, treating the injured, and possibly firefighting.
It is imperative that citizens have a family disaster plan and even more so if a family member is disabled, has access issues, or some other type of functional need. All citizens should be prepared to survive on their own for a minimum of three (3) days, and possibly longer. A new minimum just proposed is 5 to 7 days! As a reminder in a disaster utilities may be off in the area including telephones and even cellular service may be affected. The bottom line - be prepared! Make a plan and have some basic supplies on hand for ALL family members. If there are family members with disabilities sign up for the STEAR program.