At an emergency meeting of the Sealy City Council Friday afternoon at W. E. Hill Community Center, a motion was passed unanimously to extend the city's declaration disaster indefinitely.
The discussion amongst the council was that they didn't want to put an exact time restriction on it so they could lift it later at their discretion.
"I kind of like the idea of leaving it indefinitely and then letting us make the call when we want to rescind it," said councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma.
“I think things will change pretty frequently,” said councilmember Adam Burttschell. “If at the very least it’s to give periodic updates, if it’s a press release, we just need to keep that communication line open with everyone.
“It’s imperative to be as open as possible and for us to be continually communicative with the public,” Burttschell continued. “Maybe it’s to have a meeting more often than we typically would but I think it’s just a different situation we’re dealing with.”
“It’s unseen,” added Mayor Janice Whitehead. “We can see hurricanes and tornadoes and those types of disasters but we don’t see this one and it’s not as prevalent, so I think the precautionary measures are necessary.”
The council's legal counsel, Tim Kirwin, who was patched in via speaker phone, agreed to extend the declaration and for the council to be ready to meet irregularly with how frequent updates are being provided.
“Keep it until you rescind it,” he said. “Things are changing so rapidly that if we need to have another meeting to rescind it, that’s fine, that’s easy to do. At that point, if we think we’re going to rescind it, things are better.”
With that, Lerma made the motion which was seconded by councilwoman Jennifer Sullivan before it was passed unanimously.
“I’d rather be overcautious – maybe not even overcautious – but overprepared for the worst, than not prepared for the worst,” Whitehead said. “I heard Sheila Jackson Lee on TV today say that we need to be prepared and cautious. If we never face the worst, that’s great; at least we were ready for it.”
Along the same lines of being prepared, the mayor also relayed an update from Dr. Kannappan Krishnaswamy of the Medical Clinics of Sealy on receiving testing kits.
“I’ve had conversations with the emergency management coordinator in Bellville, with Michael McCaul’s office, with the state, (City Manager) Lloyd (merrell) and I met with the state emergency management coordinator,” Whitehead said. “We actually got five kits in yesterday. It was yesterday afternoon, Dr. K sent me a text saying we got five kits. We didn’t have any until that period of time.
“I was thrilled,” Whitehead continued, “just to get five is a good thing for us. We’ve been staying in touch with the Sealy Medical Clinic and we met with Bellville Hospital administrators yesterday so we’re trying to stay on top of this and do the best that we can with what we have for the people for we serve.”
In the meantime, with an extended disaster declaration, Councilwoman Lerma reminded those able to continue supporting local businesses.
“I just wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone to support all of our business in town,” she said shortly before making the motion. “Most of them are really trying and running on limited staff and I think it’s really important to support all of them … plus I’m not cooking much these days.”