Emergency Preparedness

Cots in the Smithville Recreational Center during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The coronavirus arrived in Central Texas with the spring. That meant no South by Southwest and an early end to the school year. It also meant people stuck at home, at least, enjoyed some pretty good weather.

That’s likely about to change.

A screenshot from Hays County's emergency preparedness video for young children.

From Texas Standard:

The possibility of an emergency at a school isn’t an idea most of us like to dwell on. But as schools continue to be targets for those intent on causing widespread harm, training teachers and kids on what to do “just in case” has become common practice.

But though it’s common, that training is hardly standardized across Texas – or even at different schools within the same county. That’s why one Texas county decided to take the lead on designing a program to get everyone on the same page – that includes even the very youngest students.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The City of Austin is looking into what caused its 911 system to stop working yesterday.

The system is running as normal today.

Original Story (Dec. 16, 6:14 p.m.): Austin's 911 emergency call functions were disrupted Monday afternoon, leading to some longer wait times for callers.

The city activated its Emergency Operations Center to manage the outage. The Austin Police Department put more officers on the streets to increase visibility and accessibility.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the city has been getting help from agencies in surrounding communities.

KUT News

According to a survey from Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, less than 10 percent of Austinites are ready for an emergency or natural disaster. 

“People just don’t think anything’s going to happen here,” explains spokesperson Candice Wade Cooper.  “Even though Austin may not be prone to sudden emergencies like earthquakes or tsunamis, there are all kinds of things that can catch you off guard – flooding, fires, burglary. It’s important to be prepared.”

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The City of Austin says it’s prepared to handle any and all public safety issues that may arise during the upcoming F1 weekend 10 days from now.

“I’m smiling because I’m ready,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We’ll absolutely have a tremendously positive impact in terms of public safety and in terms of the enjoyment of our residents and our visitors.”

Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Here's one heck of a lunch topic: Responding to a terrorist attack in downtown Austin during South by Southwest.

That was one of the noontime subjects city officials considered yesterday, in a workshop discussing their role in case of catastrophe – such as terrorism, an infrastructure collapse or a natural disaster.

Attendees, including the members of the Austin City Council, considered a range of worst-case scenarios. One was that SXSW attack: “It is a beautiful morning in Austin – bustling, with SXSW in full swing,” a planning scenario posited. “Without warning a large explosion rocks downtown Austin … Confirmed fatalities – 83; Injuries – 200+ (some key officials and staff are known to be among them.)”