Since 2001, federal preparedness funds have helped Texas communities get ready for possible threats. Threats from communicable disease and natural disasters are not new. However, our modern world has created new and potentially even more catastrophic threats, from a bioterrorism attack to a severe influenza pandemic.
Local communities have used state and federal disaster preparedness funding to make themselves safer and more resilient against disaster. Texas communities used federal monies to:
- Develop comprehensive community disaster plans;
- Develop response systems for public health threats and infectious disease outbreaks;
- Build and strengthen relationships between key agencies, such as the Department of State and Health Services and the Governor's Division of Emergency Management;
- Strengthen and advance laboratory testing and response capabilities;
- Fortify information and communication technology infrastructure; and
- Improve the organization of volunteers.
Texas' disaster preparedness and response system was tested and proven effective during hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. While Texas has made impressive gains, significant challenges remain at the local level. Federal funds are important for improving and sustaining our disaster preparedness system. Cutting federal funding only weakens current state and local preparedness efforts.
Medicine's 2009 Agenda
- Support measures to sustain federal funding for public health preparedness initiatives.
- Support funding for disaster preparedness research.
- Support improved funding for Medical Reserve Corps programs, particularly in urban areas and along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Across the nation, tornadoes and hurricanes continue to devastate communities. An immediate response is critical for these communities' economic recovery.
- Sustained federal funding is critical for maintaining and continuing the systems that have been implemented to prepare for 21st century disasters.