Feeling a bit bugged by mosquitoes since Tropical Storm Imelda? Liberty County officials say they are working on the problem and have requested an aerial spray of the entire county.
On Sept. 20, the day after the storm, County Judge Jay Knight put in a federal request for an aerial application of mosquito insecticide but the request languished. Later Knight was told that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services first needed to perform mosquito counts, which involved entomologists and veterinarians weighing the positive aspects against the negative. Their concern was that beekeeping and livestock operations would be harmed by the aerial spraying.
“They want to say something about the dangers of aerial spraying to the critters, and we understand that,” Knight said. “They also put mosquito traps out to see if they could catch one of the deadly mosquitoes. As of Friday, all of those requests I had put in were – boom – canceled. I was like, ‘Really?'”
The canceled requests for aerial spraying caused an uproar among officials for the seven most storm-impacted Texas counties, Knight said.
“As of yesterday, our requests were opened back up. It’s going to happen, I do believe, especially if we get approved for public assistance through FEMA,” he said.
So far, the federal disaster declaration has only included individual assistance for people impacted by the storm, not public assistance for cities and counties. Without that financial assistance, county leaders are doing what they can to eradicate mosquitoes in the unincorporated parts of the county, those not part of a city.
“I want to let people know we are trying. Most commissioners only have two trucks per precinct for fogging,” Knight said. “We are doing all we can. I know the commissioners have had people out seven days a week. If you haven’t seen them yet, you will. If we get the public assistance approved, and I believe we will, then it will be expedited.”