Cleburne is the first city in Johnson County to join a public works partnership of North Texas municipalities that assist one another in emergency response.
The City Council approved a resolution to join the North Central Texas Public Works Emergency Response Team at its July 9 meeting. Regional team members provide public works assistance when an emergency or disaster overwhelms local resources within the North Central Texas region.
“Cleburne will be the first city in Johnson County to join and I want to call on our fellow mayors and councilmembers in other cities and county leadership to follow suit,” Mayor Scott Cain said.
Based on lessons learned from several past natural disasters and large scale incidents, public works support is a necessary resource, which needed a more regional approach to coordination. Emergency situations include tornadoes, high winds, hail, snow, ice, flooding, blackouts, and line ruptures. If one of the 61 participating cities needs assistance they can immediately contact all partnering agencies with requests. Public Works Director Jeremy Hutt gave an example of a power outage in Dallas, which necessitated the need for hundreds of portable stop signs. In the example, partnering cities received the requests and were able to provide assistance.
“A big part of this program is the coordination that is done before the need; there’s one call,” Hutt said. “In an emergency, instead of team members making 25 phone calls and coordinating where those agencies need to respond, that’s all done in the backend.”
Other examples of resources that could be requested include personnel, barricades, heavy equipment, pumps, generators, sand bags, and more. This program allows cities to also expedite recovery and legal and financial issues related to crisis response. It is always up to the city in any circumstance if they will assist. The North Central Texas Council of Government’s Emergency Preparedness Department supports and facilities the team.
Mayor Cain spoke about the benefits of the program, recalling the experience of responding to the tornado that hit Cleburne in 2013. He said city leadership spent time behind-the-scenes making and receiving phone calls for aid, which took away time from strategic planning.
“My phone literally shut down from making and receiving so many phone calls,” he said. “Having this resource to make one call instead of several calls would’ve made things a lot easier.”