Storm damage in Red River County on November 4, 2022. (Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife)
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Disaster Assessment and Recovery (DAR) unit recently dispatched a team to conduct agricultural damage assessments in three counties in Northeast Texas in response to tornadoes and severe weather.
DAR agents conducted assessments in Red River, Morris and Lamar counties in response to a request for assistance from the State of Texas, STAR.
Gov. Greg Abbott has appealed for federal assistance following the storms and tornadoes that hit North Texas on Nov. 4. Total property damage to homes and businesses is estimated at more than $11 million.
“Our DAR agents play an important role in serving the people of Texas in times of need, and the storms in North Texas caused significant damage and loss to homeowners, agricultural producers and related businesses,” said Monty Dozier, Ph.D., DAR – Unit Director, Bryan College Ward.
The DAR team supports the statewide emergency response as part of The Texas A&M University System Keeping Texas Prepared initiative. DAR works in coordination with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and other groups in the Texas A&M University System, including the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the Texas A&M Forest Service. In addition, they support national response organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
DAR provides the details
A request was received on November 9 from Red River County for assistance in conducting comprehensive damage assessments from the November 4 tornado and severe weather. Five DAR agents were deployed to conduct the assessment, led by Bryan Davis, DAR team leader, Seguin.
“Once we received the request, we deployed the next day,” Davis said. “From there, we met with the Red River County emergency manager. Their need was to obtain a comprehensive estimate of the fence that was being destroyed throughout Red River County. We worked away from maps and county roads. No private property was entered.”
Davis said two teams of two-man Strike Team agents were assembled, with one team deployed to the north and the other to the south.
“We worked along the main route of the storm,” Davis said. “We then worked until we met in the middle.”
The teams used both visual assessments and drone technology. The GIS team at AgriLife Extension’s Texas Community Watershed Partners office in Houston helped map out the trail of the tornado in each county to expedite the inspection process. Calculated loss estimates were entered by landowners into the AgStat data system, which is part of the iSTAT damage assessment portal used by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
A second STAR request was received on November 10 from Morris County for DAR assessments of fences, livestock and equipment damage. Another STAR request was received from Lamar County for DAR assistance with fence line damage estimates.
Final damage estimates, measured against the outer fence lines of county roads, came to:
- Red River County, 16.18 miles destroyed fences.
- Morris County, 1.22 miles fences, five farm structures.
- Lamar County, 3.5 miles from Fences.
DAR team members completed investigations in Red River and Morris counties on November 11. The Lamar County investigation concluded on November 12 and agents were demobilized.
“Whenever there is a need from citizens or the public, we don’t want to disrupt the recovery process,” Davis said. “Every disaster begins locally and ends locally. We recognize and respect the needs of Texans and aim to serve as effectively and efficiently as possible.”