Liberty County residents are doing their part to be counted in the 2020 Census. As of March 31, 22.8 percent of Liberty County households had responded, according to the Census Bureau’s online Response Tracker.
Census counts are more than a population tally. Census data impacts how much federal funding states and counties receive in a disaster declaration and helps direct local emergency response. In Liberty County, that can cover everything from COVID-19 assistance to disaster relief for floods and hurricanes.
The current Liberty County population count of 83,658 is based on the 2010 Census and subsequent surveys conducted by the Census Bureau. This figure affects what the county receives through FEMA and other relief agencies when disaster strikes.
The 2020 Census is now underway and can reflect the county’s growth and increase assistance, but only if everyone participates.
“Responding to the 2020 Census is critical since it sets the bar for our population counts for the next ten years,” said Liberty County Judge Jay Knight during the March 10 Liberty County Commissioners Court meeting. “Census counts affect everything from legislative power in the U.S. House of Representatives and state government to funding for ongoing programs and disaster relief.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau emergency preparedness reports, Census data impacts far more than funding in a disaster. Census demographic data informs emergency teams of important population factors, like the age ranges of residents and languages spoken within affected regions.
In a health crisis like COVID-19, Census age data helps county managers pinpoint areas of vulnerable older populations. In hurricanes and floods, age data identifies areas with older populations needing evacuation or storm recovery assistance, while language data highlights areas where bilingual responders might be deployed.
Most homes in Liberty County have received 2020 Census response invitations and reminder letters in the mail.
Paper Census questionnaires will soon be mailed to addresses that haven’t responded online or via phone.
There is one exception – rural residents who receive mail via postal boxes won’t receive these mailings. The Census hand-delivers invitations and questionnaires to these homes. Hand-delivery is also delayed due to COVID-19, but rural households don’t have to wait. They can respond online or via phone without invitations using their 911 or city-style address.
“However you do the Census, just tell us you are here,” Knight said.