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What a Feeling: 'Flash' Dance Your Way to Emergency Preparedness

Image courtesy
Security theater with a beat: A still from a video promoting today's dance flash mob.

Catastrophic floods. Bio-terrorism. Nuclear attacks.

Can a flash mob and a funky beat help people prepare for such emergencies?

The City of Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management office thinks it might be weird enough to work. Today, HSEM is gathering a flash mob outside of City Hall to spread its message of preparedness. The city partnered with Dance Austin Studio to design a dance accompanying a song with instructions for making a plan. (Yes, such a thing exists.)

City of Austin Public Information Specialist Sharon Henry says the idea is an “Austin spin” on emergency preparedness and says it might “just be weird enough to maybe get people’s attention”.  (Word has already spread to Houston, where the initiative has left the Houston Press feeling “out-hipped” and just a little jealous.)

“Only about 10 percent of Austin residents are prepared to take care of themselves in any sort of a disaster,” says Henry, meaning they are prepared to go without power or medical attention for up to 72 hours.  She also notes that it’s important not forget that Austin is right in flash flood alley. “People don’t think of it right now because of all the droughts, but there have been some devastating floods in Austin”.

Or as the song succinctly puts it: “It can happen in a flash, in an instant things can get mad crazy / An emergency is scary man, and you don’t want your mind to be hazy.”

The city has posted the following instructional video on YouTube, where viewers can learn the moves and join some 100 estimated participants at City Hall today, Wednesday, May 30, at 4 p.m. 

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