Montgomery County extends disaster declaration, provides additional emergency management funding

Montgomery County commissioners met for an emergency court session April 8 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County commissioners met for an emergency court session April 8 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County commissioners met for an emergency court session April 8 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County's local disaster declaration was extended through May 11 at an emergency Commissioners Court session April 8.

The local state of disaster was first declared March 12 and would have expired April 11.

County Judge Mark Keough noted that the declaration is separate from the county's stay-at-home order, which was signed in late March and is effective through April 30. That order was enacted to allow the county to procure funding from state or federal sources for its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"[The disaster declaration] generally happens in 30-day increments so we can take advantage of procurement from FEMA or whoever is going to be helping us—the government and the various things that we are able to recoup our funding from," Keough said. "The reason for this today is that our order ends [April 11,] which will not come in time for our next Commissioners Court [meeting].”

Keough also said the county will examine its stay-at-home order on a separate basis depending on the rate of new confirmed cases in the area and consultation with local health officials.

"The object here is not to just arbitrarily keep it open as long as we want. We know that people are hurting. We know that our economy is in a difficult situation, and there are possibly some modified ways to dial this back down. But, again, today, that’s not the case," he said.

Commissioners unanimously approved the disaster declaration's extension before discussing additional funding for the county's emergency management office and nonprofits.

Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts moved to provide $25,000 from his precinct's budget to the Community Assistance Center, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said he hopes to move funding from his precinct to the Montgomery County Food Bank or other local organizations at the court's next meeting.

Commissioners also memorialized a $30,000 contingency transfer for the county's coronavirus response through the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and approved an additional $100,000 transfer from contingency funds for procurement of personal protective equipment to be distributed throughout the county.

"We are burning through PPE at a high rate right now [in] the sheriff’s office and other agencies across the county [as well as] the inmates in the jail using PPE daily," said Jason Millsaps, executive director of the emergency management office. "These funds will allow us to continue to procure those items because they are delayed in shipment, so we’re having to procure in anticipation of what we’re using to have enough supply coming in on a regular basis."

Millsaps also said the county is not likely to purchase additional coronavirus tests at this time, as its current supply is on back-order and is expected to arrive after a projected peak in coronavirus cases this month.

More than 20 local hospitals and medical offices currently have testing available, Millsaps said, although testing results are on a backlog of 2-11 days.

Commissioners will next convene for a regular meeting April 14.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


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