HHSC received the 2022 Texas Emergency Management Agency of the Year Award from the Texas Division of Emergency Management during the Texas Emergency Management Conference held May 31–June 3 in San Antonio.
The award recognizes outstanding support provided by an agency to Texas communities during disasters. Previous winners include the Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
HHSC Emergency and Risk Management Director Russell D. Cook said he and his team were surprised to learn about winning the award but they are honored to be recognized by the state for their work.
“It makes me extremely proud,” Cook said. “It feels good to be recognized outside of our normal day-to-day HHSC operations.”
HHSC Emergency and Risk Management oversees many programs and initiatives to ensure the safety of Texans and collaborates with other state and federal agencies to prepare for and respond to disasters.
The past few years have been especially busy for the team, as it responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winter storm in February 2021 and other emergencies. In addition to making sure Texans had access to resources during these emergencies, Cook said HHS distributed about $20 million in aid to Texans affected by the winter storm.
“I have a tremendous team,” Cook said. “We’re small in number, but we get a lot accomplished.”
The Emergency and Risk Management team has about 18 people, 13 of whom work in emergency response and recovery, he said.
Cook and his deputy directors, MC Lambeth and Valerie Cunningham, said much of the team’s success in helping Texans is through the partnerships it has developed, including those within HHS.
“This is a team effort,” Cook said. “This award is for the entire agency, and we want everyone to celebrate with us.”