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Texas DSHS treat San Jacinto County for mosquito control

The rain left behind by Hurricane Harvey has created large areas where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

To address increasing numbers of mosquitoes and the risk they pose to the recovery effort and public health, the Texas Department of State Health Services activated its contract for aerial mosquito control and requested additional mosquito control assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Aerial spraying targeting mosquitoes began early September in Aransas, Bee, Nueces, Refugio and San Patricio counties.

Last night, flight operations treated about 326,000 acres over Calhoun, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Polk and San Jacinto counties. Crews are planning to be up tonight spraying over portions of Galveston, Jackson, Montgomery, Polk and San Jacinto counties, conditions permitting. As those areas are completed, planes will move on to Sabine and Jasper counties and expect to conclude spraying this week.

A total of approximately 6.03 million acres has been sprayed across all areas. Flight schedules are subject to change.

Most mosquitoes that appear after floods are nuisance mosquitoes that don’t spread disease but can have a serious effect on recovery operations by preventing responders and people affected by a disaster from being outside. Areas of standing water can also increase the number of mosquitoes capable of spreading diseases like West Nile virus and Zika.
Aerial application of insecticide, when applied according to label instructions by a licensed professional, is the most effective way to rapidly reduce the number of mosquitoes in a large area and does not present a risk to people, pets or other animals.

A small amount of insecticide, one to two tablespoons per acre, is dispersed by airplanes equipped with nozzles that create ultra-low volume droplets just the right size to kill mosquitoes. The tiny droplets are calibrated to float in the air for a period of time and kill adult mosquitoes on contact while limiting exposure to other animals and people. Once any remaining droplets settle to the ground, they quickly break down on surfaces, in water and in sunlight.

The small amount of insecticide used does not pose a health risk to people, pets or the environment in the area. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people may prefer to stay inside and close windows and doors when spraying takes place, but it is not necessary.

Spraying is also done to minimize any effects on beneficial insects like bees. Applications will be done starting around dusk when mosquitoes are most active and after bees have returned to their hives for the night. The insecticides dissipate and break down quickly in the environment, and when bees emerge in daylight, they are not affected. Although this type of application will not cause a significant exposure for bees, beekeepers may choose to cover their colonies and prevent bees from exiting during treatment.

Flights will be conducted by Clarke, Texas’ environmental services contractor, using three twin-engine Beechcraft King Air planes. Crews will be working from dusk to dawn beginning Thursday night with Refugio and Bee counties, areas identified as priorities. Texas is also expecting additional support from the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing flying two specially equipped C-130H cargo planes in the coming days in areas over the upper Texas coast. DSHS will continue to work with local governments that have requested aerial mosquito spraying and will update information as flight plans are finalized.

People can help control mosquitoes during the recovery effort by dumping out standing water around their homes and businesses and applying a commercially available larvicide in water that can’t be drained. People should also avoid mosquito bites by using an EPA-registered mosquito repellent every time they go outside and making sure their window and door screens are in good repair after the storm to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

Rebuilding Lake Livingston

Former First Lady Laura Bush speaks to students and volunteers in honor of partnership with Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs

By Megan Whitworth
Editor

Former First Lady Laura Bush, founder of Texan by Nature, spoke to volunteers and students to celebrate the partnership of Texan by Nature and LLFoR on Wednesday, Sept. 13.(Photo by Megan Whitworth)Former First Lady Laura Bush, founder of Texan by Nature, spoke to volunteers and students to celebrate the partnership of Texan by Nature and LLFoR on Wednesday, Sept. 13.(Photo by Megan Whitworth)Former First Lady Laura Bush visited Wolf Creek Park in Coldspring to witness first hand the plantings of American Water-willows on the shore of Lake Livingston by local high school students on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

The plantings of the Water-willows is a 10-year project, currently in its third year, created by Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs to help restore Lake Livingston as a “prime destination for anglers and water enthusiasts by restoring aquatic habitat” to the lake, said Scott Ball, LLFoR Project Director.

“So far Lake Livingston Friends has planted 10,000 American water-willows at 18 sites, mostly here in the southern portion,” Bush said. “These plants are noninvasive, fast growing, hardy and known to colonize up to 10 square feet per plant.”

The Water-willows also give smaller fish a structure to hide and grow bigger, plus turtles and Carp won’t eat the plants, volunteer James Huson said.

Students from Coldspring-Oakhurst, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Shepherd, Onalaska and Livingston school districts assisted in planting the Water-willows on Wednesday. Inmate horticulturists from Huntsville’s Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Ellis Unit grew the plants for the event. School districts are also growing the plants as well.

“Seventy percent of the water in this reservoir is owned by the city of Houston. Your restoration efforts help restore water quality to the lake and they provide health benefits to the people of the greater Houston area,” Bush said. “Conservation upstream is valuable for downstream users. Especially now in their time of need, I thank your tireless efforts in restoring the lake to serve the people of your community and to preserve our naturel resources. Your insuring resilience and the long-term health of our lands. For that, I’m grateful.”

Nearly 200 volunteers, students and officials also celebrated the Conservation Wrangler partnership between LLFoR and Texan by Nature, an organization started by the former First Lady that focuses to ensure Texas’ natural heritage and economic vitality endure for generations to come.

“Our Conservation Wrangler Program features the very best Texan-led conservation projects, like the Lake Livingston restoration we are celebrating today,” Bush said. “As we’ve seen firsthand, collaborative partnerships for conservation yield great benefits — for our natural landscapes, native plants and wildlife and for everyone involved.”

Bailey Hargraves, student at Livingston High School, assisted in planting the Water-willows on Wednesday.
“It’s showing that little, small town communities, like ours, is doing something for the population,” she said.
“Getting high school students was key to this project, we could not do it without the school systems, and we’ve gotten full support from the superintendents, the principals and the agriculture teachers,” McDonough said. “I cannot thank them enough.”

As the project continues over the next seven years, LLFoR is on track to introduce 100,000 Water-willows into the lake.

“Median age most of reservoirs is 50 years old; we’re not making many new ones. We have to take care of the ones we have. Many reservoirs support thriving aquatic life, such as water fowls, reptiles, amphibian, fish and I guess Lovebugs, too,” said Craig Bonds, division director for Inland Fisheries, TPWD. “These fisheries are dependent upon good habitat for their sustainability. As reservoirs age, habitat and water quality can decline, fishing quality and water base recreation can suffer as a result. Neither the Texas Parks and Wildlife, nor any single entity has the resources to fully address these challenges alone. …Partnerships are and will be crucial to take care of the lakes we love.”

Bush also gave a report on her in-laws, former President George Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. She noted the duo’s office flooded, but not their home from Hurricane Harvey. They are currently in Maine, but will return home in Houston this fall.

“President Bush at age 93 and Barbara at 92 are both happy and in good spirits,” she said. “George and I both believe they are showing us how to age with grace.”

COCISD announces policy for free and reduced price meals

Eligibility sanjac

By Cassie Gregory
COCISD

Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD announced its policy today for providing free and reduced-price meals for children served under the attached current income eligibility guidelines. Each school campus and the Child Nutrition office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by anyone on request.

Starting on Aug. 25 the COCISD Child Nutrition Department will begin distributing letters to the households of the children in the district about eligibility benefits and any actions households need to take to apply for these benefits. Applications are also available at the COCISD Child Nutrition office located at 125 FM 1514 in Coldspring, any school campus or online at cocisd.org.

The following criteria will be used to determine a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meal benefits:

Income
1. Household income that is at or below the income eligibility levels

Categorical or Automatic Eligibility
2. Household receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

Program Participant
3. Child’s status as a foster child, homeless, runaway, migrant, or displaced by a declared disaster
4. Child’s enrollment in Head Start or Even Start.

Income Eligibility
For those households that qualify for free or reduced-price meals based in income, an adult in the household must fill out the free and reduced-priced meal application and return it to Amanda Dunaway, Child Nutrition Administrative Assistant, 936-653-1107, 125 FM 1514, Coldspring, TX 77331. Those individuals filling out the application will need to provide the following information:
1. Names of all household members
2. Amount, frequency and source of current income for each household member
3. Last 4 digits of the Social Security number of the adult household member who signs the application or, if the adult does not have a Social Security number, check the box for “No Social Security number”
4. Signature of an adult household member attesting that the information provided is correct.
Categorical or Program Eligibility

COCISD is working with local agencies to identify all children who are categorically and program eligible. COCISD will notify the households of these children that they do not need to complete an application. Any household that does not receive a letter and feels it should have should contact Child Nutrition Director Dinah Redden at 936-653-1107.

Any household that wishes to decline benefits should contact the Child Nutrition Office at 936-653-1107.

Applications may be submitted anytime during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility. Applications may also be verified by the school officials at any time during the school year.

Determining Eligibility
Under the provisions of the free and reduced-price meal policy, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD will review applications and determine eligibility. Households or guardians dissatisfied with the reviewing official’s eligibility determination may wish to discuss the decision with the reviewing official on an informal basis. Households wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to Dawn Smith, Director of Child Nutrition at 936-653-1107.

Unexpected Circumstances
If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the current income eligibility guidelines.

Time to rebuild

John Few, Sr., owner of Browder’s Marina, points to the damage left by flooding at Livingston Dam Friday afternoon, while Rep. Kevin Brady and Judge Lovett look on.  (Photo by Megan Whitworth)John Few, Sr., owner of Browder’s Marina, points to the damage left by flooding at Livingston Dam Friday afternoon, while Rep. Kevin Brady and Judge Lovett look on. (Photo by Megan Whitworth)

By Megan Whitworth
Editor

Rep. Kevin Brady said it’s critical for individuals and families who received damage to their homes due to flooding to register with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As of Friday, the U.S. congressman said 300,000 people have already registered for the federal agency.
“So Wednesday I went to Austin to request President Trump and Gov. Abbott directly about why San Jacinto needs to be added to the

Federal Disaster Assistance. In 24 hours they added the county, at Judge Lovett’s request as well,” Brady said. “So now all of the individuals are eligible to get help with short term and long term. The county can get reimbursed for the infrastructure damage that has been done, which may take some time to see exactly what that is.”

Individuals and families can register with FEMA online at disasterassistance.gov or call 800-622-FEMA 3362. Survivors have 60-days from the date of a declaration for Individual Assistance to apply for assistance.

President Donald Trump also authorized more funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures for approved counties in the federal declaration, which included San Jacinto. This means cost sharing increased from 75 to 90 percent federal funding for debris removal, including direct federal assistance, and a 100 percent federal funding for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance. Brady requested the funding during his meeting with the President.

“I appreciate President Donald J. Trump and Governor Greg Abbott for their quick response to this tragic flooding event that has affected so many in our district,” Brady said. “When people are flooded out of their homes they deserve to know that help is on the way. I appreciate everyone from our local first responders, county judges and emergency managers to our Texas senators and President Trump’s cabinet members, especially FEMA Director Brock Long, who have been in close contact with me and our staff. The coordination has been amazing.”

Brady toured the shelter at Shepherd Community Center Friday afternoon, along with County Judge John Lovett, Jr. and Shepherd Mayor Earl Brown. There were 36 evacuees at the shelter, which Lovett said is a “10 percent fraction of what we began with.” Brady visited with local volunteers and evacuees about the community effort that was made to provide a safe shelter for evacuees. He also visited with families and discussed signing up for FEMA.

Brady also visited Livingston Dam later in the afternoon to see the damage left by Hurricane Harvey.

“This is going to be a very expensive storm,” Lovett said.

“It was record rain and record recovery,” Brady added.

Brady said the first priority in recovery “has to be how we help people in shelters get to their next step.”
Whether it’s helping them make their way home or working with FEMA, Brady is determined, along with county and city officials, in helping San Jacinto County residents rebuild their lives.

“(Our second priority is) working with our county officials and city officials in how we help San Jacinto rebuild and that will require is going to require two or three separate bills, legislation and congress,” Brady said. “I’ve already talked to the President about what we need in San Jacinto County, and we will meet with him again Tuesday.”

‘We are San Jacinto County Strong’

Volunteers and evacuees pose together for a photo during lunch on Friday at Jones Education Complex in Coldspring. (Megan Whitworth Photo)Volunteers and evacuees pose together for a photo during lunch on Friday at Jones Education Complex in Coldspring. (Megan Whitworth Photo)

By Megan Whitworth
Editor

As the rain came down and families evacuated their homes on Sunday, Aug. 27, San Jacinto County community members rallied together to open shelters and gather supplies as people made home at the shelters.

The Shepherd Community Center in Shepherd and the Jones Education Complex were opened as shelters that day, with Shepherd Middle School opening up as a shelter later in the week.

Candy Everitt-Currie volunteered at the Jones campus from that first day and throughout the week. She said within hours of opening up the campus as a shelter, donations flooded in as volunteers welcomed 100 people that evening.

“It's hard to put into words the emotions that one experiences when you walk into the shelter,” Currie said. “The look of devastation on the people's face is absolutely heart breaking. But on the other note you also see hope and thankfulness that they survived and have somewhere to come too.

“The outpouring of the community has been amazing. I have watched people dare the rain to come out to bring any supplies they may have,” she added. “We at San Jacinto County Cowboy Church have cooked several meals and the people are so appreciative. The love and support during this time has been so humbling. It was scary last night when people were coming in without their medications, such as insulin, seizure medications; however, with the assistance of some awesome volunteers we have managed to get everyone taken care of.”
Down the road at the Shepherd Community Center, volunteer Laurelee Carson said even though workers from FEMA or volunteers from the American Red Cross weren’t able to make it to the shelter until later in the week, that didn’t stop volunteers from coming to the rescue. Even people from across the state came and brought supplies. One man came as far from El Paso and brought supplies to the shelter with plans to come back, Carson said.

“Even through the tragedy, there’s still positive out there, people working together and trying to make a difference,” she said.

Carson also noted that businesses have donated and helped many during this difficult time.

“Wal-mart has donated; McClain’s grocery store - they have cooked, they have brought us supplies, and have not charged us any. And as a family owned grocery store, that’s their livelihood,” she said. “They’ve been more than gracious to help us in this time of need. …It’s amazing how everybody has come together and helped out.”

Currie said volunteers will be ready to when the time comes when families are ready to rebuild their homes.

“This is not over; this doesn’t stop when these doors close today,” she said. “…When they rebuild their homes, we will be there helping them. We will have clothes for them; we will have food for them.”

The shelters at the middle school and Jones campus closed on Friday and moved evacuees to the shelter at the community center. As they were getting ready to move people over, Jones campus’ volunteer Shannon Wallace said she has seen the community work as one.

“We are San Jacinto County strong,” Wallace said.

“Although this is Coldspring, we have a big rivalry with shepherd - they’re blue; we’re red. But when it comes down to it we’re not. We’re one community,” she added. “…It just makes you smile so much you cry. It makes you love to be here.”

Disaster unemployment aid now available for San Jacinto County

The Texas Workforce Commission is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance for San Jacinto County, including 10 additional counties as a result of severe weather due to Hurricane Harvey.

Individuals whose employment or self-employment was impacted by Hurricane Harvey may now apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance with the Texas Workforce Commission as a result of an amendment to the Presidential Disaster Declaration.

Individuals who live in, work in or travel through the following counties may also apply for DUA: Colorado, Fayette, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Sabine and Waller Counties. Applications for these eleven counties must be submitted by Sept. 29. TWC’s website contains more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance at twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance.

The following counties are also included in the disaster declaration: Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, and Wharton Counties. Individuals who live in, work in or travel through these 18 counties affected must apply for benefits by Sept. 27. Applications can be taken online through Unemployment Benefit Services at twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits-contact-information-claimants or by calling a TWC Tele-Center Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 800-939-6631.

Individuals should specify that their applications are related to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

DUA, which is an unemployment insurance benefit made available especially for victims of disaster, is available to individuals who:

Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for unemployment benefits
Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment in the disaster area
Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster
Establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income
Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster
Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of household
To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed. Required documentation includes Social Security number, a copy of the most recent federal income tax form or check stubs, or documentation to support that you were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred.

Applicants must mail in or fax all required documentation within 21 days from the date of the DUA application. Send mailed documentation to: Texas Workforce Commission, UI Support Services Department, Attn: DUA, 101 E. 15th St., N. Lamar, Austin, TX, 78778-0001, or fax it to 512-936-3250.

Job seekers may visit local Workforce Solutions offices for access to job-search resources, job postings and training programs, as well as assistance with exploring career options, résum