The New Year has just begun and hurricane season is still five months away, but if the past is any guide, chances are that Hays County will experience at least one natural disaster during 2020.
According to FEMA, the state has seen 266 natural disasters since 1953 – 161 fires, 40 floods, 21 hurricanes, 20 severe storms, 15 tornadoes, one extended deep freeze and one devastating drought. In Hays County, in the same time period, there have been seven fires, five floods, four severe storms, three hurricanes, one tornado and one drought.
Historically April is the month most Hays County disasters have occurred, followed by September, June, August and January.
Retroactively over the past 10 years, the year 2018 saw four major disasters. Hurricane Imelda was one; others included severe storms and flooding over various parts of the state and the Copper Breaks fire near Quanah; in 2017 much of the state experienced Hurricane Harvey.
The most recent natural disasters for Hays County were the two floods of 2015, with a major disaster declaration resulting from the flood of May 24. FEMA says 12,949 individual assistance applications were approved in the wake of that, resulting in public assistance grants for $165,582,969.39 obligated. The second major flood of the year, on Oct. 30, led to 3,304 individual assistance applications approved and $42,690.546.69 in federal funding obligated.
Two years prior, another “Halloween” flood occurred in Travis, Hays and Caldwell counties, resulting in the obligation of $8,376.755.14 in federal monies.
In 2012, the Livermore Ranch fire in Jeff Davis County captured headlines; while in 2011, the numbers of natural disasters across the state had exploded to 57, consisting mostly of wildfires.
Primary among them was the Bastrop County Fire Complex that occurred partially over the Labor Day weekend. Some $12,571,783.43 in federal assistance dollars was approved. Tropical Storm Alex, later Hurricane Alex, occurred in 2010.
For more on natural disasters in Hays County and beyond, visit fema.gov.