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New Disaster Communication Methods Expected Post Blanco Flood

todayOctober 20, 2015

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By Taylor Zavala
KTSW News Director

It has been 5 months since the Memorial Day flooding devastated families and businesses along the Blanco river.

During the floods, many residents were warned to evacuate areas through reverse 9-1-1 calls, which work to deliver emergency notifications to phone numbers included in a database tied to a specific geographic region.

However vacationers staying along the Blanco were unable to receive these calls since they aren’t included in the database and aren’t residents of the area, therefore delaying their awareness of the flooding.

Mayor Thurber. Photo by Taylor Zavala
Mayor Steve Thurber. Photo by Taylor Zavala

Since the floods tested the emergency communication abilities of Hays County, Wimberley Mayor Steve Thurber says he has been working with Hays and San Marcos officials to implement new methods of warning, saying “we’re working on upstream flood gauges, so rain gauges and upstream river monitoring gauges so we know what’s going on. We’re working on some of our codes to try and find some way we can communicate with those folks to advise them of a disaster, of dangers to get them out.”

When asked about the current reconstruction of Wimberley’s business and tourism, Thurber stressed that some are doing better than others, saying “it’s a mix with commercial businesses in Wimberley. Some of the businesses are doing really well, some of the businesses say they’re not doing as well as they were. If you base it on our sales tax collections, our sales tax collections are higher than they have been. So overall the commercial business climate in Wimberley is still very good.”

Thurber also said that the biggest dips in businesses have been in the hotel industry, citing that most of the Bed and Breakfasts are located on the Blanco river and faced issues receiving disaster warnings during the floods.

However, residents of San Marcos and Wimberley should expect more sirens to be placed along the Blanco river to increase disaster awareness.

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