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DeWitt County preparing for floods, hurricanes

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.

Rosie Ybarra, DeWitt County Emergency Management Coordinator

In 1998, the Guadalupe River swelled to 2 miles wide, gobbling up a third of the homes in Cuero.

"There were no maps that could lay hands on that, that could have even predicted such a thing," DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler said of what's known as the 500-year flood. "It was certainly an eye-opening experience."

Fowler said the county has come a long way since then.

Since Fowler's tenure, three people have served as emergency management coordinators.

The latest, Rosie Ybarra, took office in December.

Fowler said Ybarra is in charge of permitting construction in the flood zone, which would keep the county in compliance with federal regulations, providing property owners with flood insurance.

Fowler and Ybarra are meeting regularly to hone an emergency plan, which would highlight an evacuation route and call upon other agencies, such as the Texas Department of Emergency Management.

Before a hurricane touches down, the county would get fuel and prep generators, Ybarra said.

She pointed out that DeWitt is a pass-through county, meaning it doesn't have shelters but is on the evacuation route for many coastal communities.

The county will work with the Texas Department of Transportation to alleviate areas that experienced bottlenecking during hurricanes Katrina and Ike, such as U.S. highways 87, Alternate 77 and 183.

"We are also working to enable a reverse 911 system countywide that we should have in place in the next month or so," Fowler said.

To provide contact information for the system, DeWitt County residents can call the Emergency Management Office at 361-275-0878.

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