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Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, Sept. 19, declared a state of disaster in counties impacted by Tropical Storm Imelda, which first hit the upper Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 15.

Counties listed in the declaration include Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto.

The declaration ensures that local officials have access to any state resources they may require to respond.

The state worked with local officials and emergency personnel in the named counties on problems caused by Imelda’s heavy rains, high winds and catastrophic flooding.

Safety select panel meets The House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety met in the Capitol on Sept. 17.

The panel is assigned to study mass violence, recommend ways to prevent future occurrences, reinforce public safety in Texas and address any shortcomings. Over the next few months, the panel will meet in Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and Odessa.

“In the wake of recent shootings in El Paso and then in Midland-Odessa, it goes without saying that Texans are hurting,” the panel’s chair, Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said. “We’ve lost friends, family members and co-workers from these acts of mass violence. And I say ‘we’ because these tragedies and this loss of precious life are felt by everyone in our state, whether or not you knew the victims personally. Texans deserve better and they expect and demand our earnest work to deliver sensible solutions.”

Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified that there have been 12 mass casualty attacks in 53 years in Texas and that six of those attacks occurred in the past three years, resulting in the deaths of 82 people.

Discussion included topics such as social media postings, internet use, hotlines, tips and purchases of weapons and ammunition.

Panelists also discussed how law enforcement entities can share databases that contain information on criminal activities and suspicious behavior.