Police Lt. Joe Kraft wouldn’t mind another quiet spring in North Texas.
As an assistant coordinator — and now the coordinator — for the city’s office of emergency management, it’s been his job for the last 10 years to prepare the city of 54,000 for a disaster, whether natural or manmade.
“The challenge has always been to develop programs to get the the attention of the public,” said Kraft, who has been with the Euless Police Department for 28 years. “A lot of people keep it in the back of their minds, until a tornado hits or there’s an airplane crash in their neighborhood.”
Last spring was a quiet one for tornadoes in North Texas, with only two in the six-county Dallas-Fort Worth region and none in Tarrant County.
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The most recent deadly tornado in North Texas came on May 15, 2013, when an EF-4 tornado packing 180 mph winds struck the Rancho Brazos neighborhood just outside of Granbury. Six people were killed by the tornado, one of 19 that touched down that day in North Texas.
Despite a quiet previous spring, Kraft said disaster planning still must go and focus on four areas: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. And Kraft’s years of work have had the city prepared, city officials said.
“Joe is a tremendous asset to this community and the efforts of emergency management throughout the area,” said Euless Police Chief Mike Brown. “Thanks to Joe, this community has the programs, volunteers and training that will serve it well in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
In the past, Kraft said that severe storms were the primary concerns of disasters for cities, but emergency management officials now must prepare for other types of disasters. In Euless, there are three major highways that could carry trucks transporting hazardous materials and the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport remains a neighbor of the city.
The emergency management office also turns to volunteer groups in the city for support and assistance, including the local amateur ham radio club that assists the community with storm spotting and recovery in the event of a catastrophic weather event.
“Here in the Metroplex, we have a difficult time trying to convince people to be prepared because everything is conveniently located,” Kraft said. “But we try to emphasize to people that in case of disasters, try to have food and other items to self-sustain for 72 hours. That’s because it could take first responders some time before they can reach you.”
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763