MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF
As emergency managers and first responders, we can make our jobs easier by supporting Texans as they take care of themselves and their families before, during and after disasters. The National Weather Service reports that recent intense rainstorms brought the Texas total of 2010 flood fatalities to 13, many of them caused when drivers made the wrong decision and cars were swept off roads. Some flood deaths are unavoidable. But most flood deaths could be prevented.
When it comes to flooding, there is one critically important message we would like everyone in the emergency management community to get across to Texas drivers, and that is to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” if you see water across a roadway.
When I was the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of San Antonio, we supported a major program to cut down on flash flood fatalities and injuries. It was called the San Antonio Flood Emergency (SAFE) System.
We used a variety of tools to increase public awareness on flood safety. These included billboards and signs at low-water crossings. We developed a flood preparedness website: http://www.safloodsafe.com. We provided a special telephone SAFE Hotline to inform the community about severe weather and flooding. We used a Wireless Notification System that could be received by cell phones and other electronic devices – from E-mail to SMS texting.
I encourage those of you in communities subject to floods and flashfloods to consider developing, or improving, your flash flood public awareness programs. If you live in a community where it doesn’t rain much, remember your drivers are still going to be visiting Texas rivers, lakes and beaches – or driving through cities like San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Round Rock.
In Texas, you never know when, or where, unusual storm conditions will strike. Let’s all work together to teach our citizens to: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Chief W. Nim Kidd