Central Texas emergency agencies gearing up for hurricane season
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is underway and the tropics are heating up. Tropical Storm Bret has formed near the coast of Venezuela and Tropical Storm Cindy is likely to form in the gulf as well.
Meanwhile in Central Texas, emergency agencies are gearing up in the event one of these storms makes landfall.
Agencies like the Department of Public Safety and the Salvation Army have experts tracking these storm systems closely. If it looks like one of the storms will make landfall, volunteers and first responders are ready to deploy.
"It looks like it has a good chance of hitting Texas so we've already had some discussions and are waiting for when we have a clear idea of where the storm will come ashore," said AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck.
Buck is also a member of Texas Task Force 1, the most deployed urban search and rescue team in the country. He's part of a swift water rescue team.
"Our boat squads, helicopter and search and rescue teams will likely be activated in case of ahead of the storm and be able to respond during the storm," Buck said.
The Salvation Army has 30 volunteers in Travis and Williamson counties who are also ready to respond for up to two weeks at a time.
"They will start deploying people to the region that looks like it will be hit hardest," said Major Andrew Kelly, area Salvation Army commander.
The Salvation Army provides food and water to those affected by natural disasters. Most recently, central Texas volunteers deployed to the Canton tornados and central Texas flooding. But, with hurricanes, the agency will often get a head start.
"We can be there before the storm hits so as soon as the storm passes our volunteers can help those who survived and first responders," Kelly said.
DPS is also prepared for what could be a busy hurricane season. The state emergency operations center is deep underground at their headquarters off Lamar in Austin.
"We plan for this, we train for this and we take this very seriously. We have a lot of disasters in Texas so we get a lot of practice," said Chief Nim Kid, with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Experts say the most important thing about hurricane season is preparedness.
This link explains how to prepare your home before a hurricane hits and what to do during and after the storm passes.