Texas practices for disaster, calls on public to prepare

Hurricane disaster training in Austin on June 5, 2017. (Nexstar/Rachel Glaser)
Hurricane disaster training in Austin on June 5, 2017. (Nexstar/Rachel Glaser)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Hurricane season is here and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Division is preparing for the worst.

At the state operation’s center in Austin, 30 state agencies are participating in a training exercise to make sure Texas is ready for a major hurricane strike. The simulated storm, Hurricane Charlie, is headed toward the Texas coast and emergency response teams treat this like the real deal, practicing evacuations and sheltering.

The head of Texas’ Emergency Management Division, Chief Nim Kidd, stressed it’s not just the coastal communities that need to be prepared. “We see a lot of inland flooding once the storm makes landfall,” Kidd said.

While Mother Nature gives the state time to organize and a chance to warn the public, Kidd is calling on all Texans to plan for any disaster. “Whether it’s tornadoes or terrorism, wildfires or floods, it’s the same model we should use to protect ourselves.”

If disaster strikes without warning, the state is always on watch in what’s known as the 24-7 365 operation room.

“There are folks sitting back there constantly monitoring your networks, constantly monitoring social media, making sure we get as quick of a notice as we can on the no-notice type of events to respond to,” explained Kidd.

DPS’ Emergency Management Division has not conducted a training exercise for a terrorist attack as big as the one underway now for a hurricane strike. According to Kidd, response plans all follow the same model and consist of all the same state-led agencies.

For his team and people at home, disaster preparedness is all about having a plan and being ready to act fast. Kidd said, “I need our community to be ready to respond.” He recommends all Texans pack a kit of supplies, come up with emergency response plans and practice those plans this week.

The hurricane training exercise runs through Thursday.

It’s been almost seven years since a hurricane made direct landfall in Texas but with more activity seen in the Gulf of Mexico, experts say it’s more likely the state will see activity this season.

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