Emergency Management

Improved street connectivity, increased street name variance, and proper street sizes can all contribute to faster emergency response capability.

Along with California and Florida, Texas is one of the top three natural disaster states in the nation. Hurricanes, floods, tornados, and other events requiring state and local disaster response continue to occur with increasing frequency. Population growth and land use changes are significant causal factors for these disasters.

Population growth has a tremendous impact on all types of disaster response. Disasters are measured in human impact (people displaced, homes, and lives lost). A natural phenomenon, such as a flood or tornado, becomes a disaster when people's lives are affected. Add to this the potential for human-caused disasters, and a direct correlation becomes evident between population growth and the increase in occurrence and severity for all types of incidents requiring state disaster response and support.

Over the last few decades, the expansion of wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas - where homes and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped land - has significantly impacted all emergency response and disaster management activities. In many areas, community expansion has outpaced local infrastructure, stretching capabilities of fire, police, and other local emergency services.

Considerations that will lead to more efficient emergency response:

  • Single lane one-way roads should have turnout spaces at regular intervals to allow emergency services access and cars to pass.
  • Roads must be planned to allow for safe evacuation and access.
  • A minimum of two primary roads should be designed in every development.
  • All public and private streets should be a minimum of 10 feet wide, in order to allow two traffic lanes.
  • Curves and intersections should be wide enough for large fire equipment to easily pass and turn.
  • Streets and bridges should be built to withstand at least 40,000 pounds (the average weight of a fire engine).
  • Roads and driveways must not be too steep or have sharp curves. These can hinder emergency equipment and prevent them from arriving at the home.
  • Dead-end streets and long driveways should have a turnaround area designated as a "T" or a circle large enough to allow safe turnaround for emergency equipment.
  • All streets should be labeled and have different names and numbers.
  • If more than one home is accessed from a single driveway, all addresses should be posted at the entrance from the street and at each appropriate intersection along the driveway.

Author: cnd and rnr

Print Resources

Web Resources

Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center

2-1-1 Texas

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - Emergency Preparedness & Response

CoastWatch Satellite Data Files

Disaster Resilient Building Science (FEMA)

Emergency Management Association of Texas

EPA's Technical Guidance for Hazard Analysis

FEMA - Introduction to Hazard Mitigation

FEMA - Understanding Your Risks: Identifying Hazards and Estimating Losses

FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance Program

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs

FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program

FEMA's Multi-Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

FEMA: HAZUS - Methodology for Estimating Potential Losses from Disasters

Getting Started: Building Support for Mitigation Planning

Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning (APA)

National Response Framework

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer (NOAA)

Security and Emergency Response Planning Toolbox for Small Water and Wastewater Systems

State Emergency Management Director Handbook - National Emergency Management Association

State of Texas Drought Preparedness Council

Storm Prediction Center (NOAA)

Surviving Disaster: How Texans Prepare

TCEQ - Emergency Response

Texas Cooperative Extension Service: Disaster Education Network

Texas Department of Health Services - Emergency Preparedness

Texas Department of Public Safety Hazard Mitigation

Texas Department of Public Safety Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs

Texas Division of Emergency Management

Texas Division of Emergency Management Situation Reports

Texas Emergency Preparedness Government Resources

Texas Extension Disaster Education Network