E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
I hope this e-news finds you doing well. As the Summer is winding down, I am writing to send you updates on our state's pressing issues and helpful information too.
With hurricane season upon us, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued the following checklist of health-related items people should take with them if they were to be evacuated ahead of a hurricane, including:
- Birth certificates
- Immunization records for children and adults
- Driver license or other photo ID
- Social Security cards
- Health insurance cards and policies
- Prescription medications and containers
- Any unfilled written prescriptions
- List of medications taken by family members
- Three- to five-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person per day)
- Three- to five-day supply of canned and other non-perishable foods
- Special foods for diabetics and others with special dietary needs
- Baby food, formula, diapers and other supplies for infants
- Fruits and vegetables
- Manual can opener
- Water purifier, such as unscented chlorine bleach or iodine tablets
- Soap, toothpaste, tissue and other personal hygiene supplies
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Disposable cleaning cloths or wipes
- First aid kit
- Extra eyeglasses, contacts and solutions
- Sleeping bags or blankets, sheets, pillows
***The release of the list does not mean that any evacuation orders or recommendations have been issued at this time.
More DSHS hurricane-related health information can be found online at: www.dshs.state.tx.us/preparedness/hurricanes.shtm
In light of the tragedy that occurred in Minnesota this summer, there have been numerous inquiries on the safety of bridges in Texas. Texas is home to more bridges than any other state; and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has an aggressive bridge inspection program.
In June, TxDOT stated that more than $6 billion would need to be transferred from new construction to routine maintenance to ensure the safety of our highway system, as TxDOT must balance maintaining the existing highway system and reducing traffic congestions.
TxDOT inspectors evaluate and rate the bridges on public roads in Texas. Each structure is inspected at least every 24 months, with the most critical structures inspected more frequently. And at least once every five years, underwater divers inspect bridge foundations and bridge columns that are below water.
Bridge projects are prioritized by scoring them statewide based on average daily traffic, structural condition, ratio of roadway width to the current standard, the federal bridge sufficiency rating and the estimated construction cost per vehicle. The higher the priority score, the sooner the bridge project is funded for construction.
In the 2006 fiscal year, TxDOT replaced or rehabilitated 399 on-system bridges and 150 off-system bridges. TxDOT will continue to work to maintain and manage state resources to ensure that Texas bridges remain safe.
The 2006 Report on Texas Bridges can be found at: www.dot.state.tx.us/publications/bridge.htm
Air Quality Index
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is used to report daily air quality. It tells you how clean the outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience after breathing polluted air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, the EPA has established national air quality standards to protect the public.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recommends that individuals with chronic lung disease such as asthma and emphysema, the elderly and young children should avoid exposure for the duration of Air Quality Health alerts. These groups are particularly sensitive to ozone. In your attempt to avoid exposure, minimize exertion outdoors during the mid-day to early evening hours or stay indoors in an air-conditioned room during this time. Pollution levels and forecasts are posted daily on the EPA AirNOW website: www.epa.gov/airnow
Whether at work or at home you can improve air-quality by doing the following:
- Refuel after 6 p.m.
- Avoid drive-thru lanes; park and go inside to conduct your business
- Drive less - walk or bicycle, combine errands and pre-plan to minimize trips
- Share a ride to work or school. For more information dial 210-CAR-POOL or visit the Commute Solutions website at www.aacog.com/commutesolutions
- Ride VIA when you can. For more information, call (210) 362-2020 or visit www.viainfo.net
- Use teleconferencing instead of driving to meetings or bundle meetings together.
- Try to avoid morning rush hour; ask your employer about flex-schedules or compressed workweeks
- Take your lunch to work or school and avoid mid-day trips and errands
- Keep your vehicle well-maintained in order to reduce tailpipe emissions
- Postpone landscaping work using small gasoline engines until after 6 p.m.
Justice For My People: The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Story
Of special interest to San Antonians: at 10:00 p.m. tonight (September 17), PBS will air Justice for My People, which tells the story of Dr. Hector P. Garcia - Mexican Revolution refugee, medical doctor to the barrios, decorated war veteran, civil rights activist and presidential confidante - as he fought to bring attention to the Mexican-American civil rights movement. In 1948, Dr. Garcia founded the American GI Forum, empowering Mexican Americans to fight numerous legal and political battles against discrimination.
Dr. Garcia and four of his ten siblings became physicians. While still in high school, young Hector joined the Citizens Military Training Corps, a peacetime branch of the United States Army. Upon completing his medical residency in 1942, Garcia volunteered for combat in the army, where he was replaced in command of a company of infantry. Later, he commanded a company of combat engineers before being transferred to the medical corps. He was stationed in Europe, where he rose to the rank of major, earned the Bronze Star Medal, and six battle stars. While in Italy, he met and fell in love with Wanda Fusillo of Naples, who he married in 1945.
After recovering from a life-threatening illness after his military service, Dr. Garcia started advocating for Mexican American veterans having trouble with the Veterans Administration. The American GI Forum, began as a group of Mexican American veterans, but the activities are not limited to veteran issues. Currently, the American GI Forum of Texas is headed by Hector's brother, Dr. C.P. Garcia, of San Antonio.
Please feel free to contact me regarding any of the above issues; and please have a safe and happy week!
HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6605 - fax