AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo Area Office of Emergency Management is an important group of people who plan for and respond to emergencies, but they are understaffed and need more help.
Daniel Gleaves, the deputy director of the Amarillo Area OEM, said they prepare responders and develop emergency plans so they can effectively respond to emergencies in Amarillo, as well as Potter and Randall Counties.
“An emergency can be anywhere from a storm that’s producing two-inch hail or greater, all the way up to a hazardous material release, a train derailment, all the way to a tornado,” said Gleaves. “So it’s the full spectrum of you know, those things that could happen that would impact the population.”
He said this spring and summer have been busy with emergencies, including the Bent Willow fire north of Amarillo that caused evacuations, and the flooding that impacted most of their area.
“It’s been very busy for the Office of Emergency Management. When we do have situations like that, it’s really all hands on deck,” he said. “We’re a really small staff. We actually have six people, four of those being duty officers that handle emergency.”
Gleaves said the OEM needs more help. During the flooding, he said they worked 28 days straight, with 12 to 16-hour days.
“So that was you know, the entire staff down here, working through those issues, trying to help the responders and ensure the response was effective, and then also helping the local community members that were impacted,” he continued. “Based on increasing industry hazards, and really the increase in natural phenomenon issues, so increase in thunderstorms of flooding, fires, we’ve identified that we actually need more than six. So we’re increasing our staffing by two in the near future.”
Funding for the OEM comes from the City of Amarillo, as well as Potter and Randall Counties.
In the Amarillo City Council’s budget workshop last week, OEM explained they need more staff and more vehicles. The City’s budget for the coming fiscal year has not been finalized.