Emergency crews at SXSW ready to move in case of flooding

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Large crowds will fill downtown Austin throughout the weekend, along with plenty of police and emergency crews to keep them safe. So what happens if the heavy rains predicted for this weekend create floods and dangerous situations that require emergency personnel to relocate?

That’s what crews inside the downtown command center will be in charge of figuring out. The National Weather Service takes part in regular briefings inside the command center, and early flood detection systems will be added to the center on Friday.

“We have a lot of the connective tissue in place for SXSW,” said Jacob Dirr, who works with the city’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Austin’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management oversees the command centers. They are responsible for coordinating all agencies in emergency response across the city.

Dirr says preparations and resources devoted to the festival put them a step ahead.

“It puts us in an advantageous position to already be in an active response mode given that we’re in SXSW,” he said. “They can allocate people to serve downtown, but also have enough staff on standby doing their normal operations across the city so that we can respond to any threat or disaster or emergency that would occur across the city.”

The City of Austin learned a lot from the Halloween floods of 2013 and installed reinforced flood gauges to get better real-time information to project conditions and be able to staff appropriately..

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