Two floods, one response report coming from Hays County

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – Emergency operations staff in Hays County will write a single After Action Report (AAR) after two, separate devastating floods swept through the region last Memorial Day weekend and again in late October, staff confirm. It’s unknown when the report will come out.

In response to multiple requests for an answer on when the report would be released–for the event that happened eight months ago–a Hays County spokesperson wrote, “Our Emergency Management staff of one (Kharley Smith) has been completely tied up with response and recovery for these two major events.”

“Our intention is to include both disasters in one AAR as the effects of each were compounded by the other,” wrote County Spokesperson Laureen Chernow. “Emergency Management AARs include sections on long-term recovery, debris management, donation and volunteer tracking, all of which were thrown into an operation mode throughout November and into December. In reviewing the sequence of events it is our position that we do not need to begin the process of compiling an AAR until key parts of the response have been concluded.”

Our AAR will be compiled and distributed when we feel it is appropriate.                         – Laureen Chernow, Hays County

Right next door staff in Blanco County, admittedly a smaller county that suffered less damage, produced its May flood report in just weeks.

Typically, After Action Reports from a major disaster focus on what went right, and what didn’t. It’s a way to help emergency managers plan for future events and for county commissioners to budget for purchases like more rescue equipment and staff.

Blanco’s report concluded dispatchers were overwhelmed with calls and noted there was a lack of emergency personnel on hand. Blanco was not significantly affected in the October storm.

After the deadly Halloween floods of 2013, the city of Austin’s similar After Action Report was released six months after the event and resulted in big changes to future emergency responses. The Austin Fire Department now has more rescue boats, more firefighters trained to use them and the watercraft are better positioned around the city.

Also, staff in the city’s 9-1-1 center is now better trained at quickly sharing information with incident leaders on where callers say they are trapped or needing help.

KXAN revealed many people were left on hold during the 2013 event in part, after fire department staff took too long to bring on extra call takers.

Spokesperson Laureen Chernow reiterated there is no timeline for when Hays County’s report will be written and released.

“After Action Reports are important to the citizens and governments of Hays County, but must not take priority over actual response and recovery operations for a variety of reasons,” Chernow wrote. “We appreciate that other counties with more staff or with lesser geography and damage may have their AAR completed and distributed sooner than Hays County. Our AAR will be compiled and distributed when we feel it is appropriate.”

KXAN reached out to Hays County commissioners for their thoughts on the time it is taking for the release of the flood After Action Report. We’ll update this story when we hear back.

Chernow pointed out federal assistance money is on its way to the county for damage sustained in October’s storms in the form of Public Assistance grants. 

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