All-America City Award projects: Taylor Landing, Texas

Faced with an aging sewage treatment plant, residents of Taylor Landing mounted an all-volunteer community effort to build a new sewage treatment plant. The plant was completed in November of 2010, but during the permitting process for the plant, Hurricane Ike destroyed an extensive portion of the sewage treatment distribution pipe. The City of Taylor Landing qualified for, applied for and received a community development block grant from FEMA and the Texas Department of Rural Affairs to repair this pipe by a process known as “blasting.” A machine travels down the old pipe and breaks it up and removes it and then the new pipe is pushed through the hole, eliminating the need to excavate. The plant is now totally modernized and TCEQ compliant after a total investment of one million dollars. With no payroll and no employees, the newly incorporated city was able to accomplish these tasks only by calling on extensive volunteer help from the residents. All tasks were performed by volunteers, who retained, supervised, and approved of the work of the paid contractors, the civil engineer and accounting firm. The work represented an investment of approximately one million dollars and serves the community of one hundred homes and 228 residents.

Emergency Response

Since its incorporation in 2005, Taylor Landing has weathered five major hurricanes and a tropical storm, undergoing three regional mandatory evacuations in the space of three years! The community was able to implement a complete emergency management response system in compliance with the National Incident Management System to respond to and deal with these incidents. Rita, the third most destructive hurricane in U.S. hit Taylor Landing directly. Humberto developed and came ashore within twenty four hours, a world record for speed, and its eye went over Taylor Landing. Ike created one of the largest storm surges in the history of the Gulf Coast. Since the Katrina disaster, FEMA has insisted on a major upgrading of all local government incident response capability. FEMA informed Taylor Landing that it expected Taylor Landing to comply with the same standards as the city of Houston. The community was able to evacuate its residents, account for them on return, protect their property throughout, distribute fuel, water and food for all, credential and get its operating personnel through police lines, provide area responders with appropriate reporting and incident management information. Having provided FEMA with all necessary reports, and hazard mitigation and reconstruction plans, Taylor Landing was informed that it has passed muster with flying colors.

Organizing Youth for Emergency Response

The hurricanes the city experienced after its incorporation in 2005 represented approximately five weeks lost school, an issue not just for the education of the children but for the parents trying to right their homes, their jobs and their lives. So the city organized all of the children, older on down, to get them doing useful things to help and to stay out of the way of the heavy lifting. Hurricane Rita occasioned a major loss of commercial outlets. All families who wandered into town for emergency relief supplies were asked to get what they could and then have the older children assist in distribution. The older children also checked on special needs people to make sure that they were in good condition. And of course they shared baby sitting and child care responsibilities for the younger ones. Adults could deal with the emergency knowing the children were being taken care of by these courageous young people.

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