Get cell phone alerts for natural disasters and event disruptions

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — With the risk of flooding in Central Texas, there is a new push to get people to sign up for emergency alerts. The aim is to notify a large number of people in a short period of time. It’s called Warn Central Texas and it’s getting a big upgrade ready to roll out in a few weeks.

Not only can you register to get free alerts from the emergency response team in the county you live in, like floods and wildfire threats, but now you can choose to get special event alerts texted to your phone as well, according to Travis County Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Carter.

“An example would be SXSW,” Carter says. “You want to get messages related to that event — we can send out if there are emergencies around there or if there are major disruptions because of it. I believe 2 years ago President Obama came: that is an example of an alert that can be pushed out to let people know ‘Hey stay clear of these areas because we are going to be shutting down roadways.'”

Carter says if you want the alerts you have to register a cell phone number with Warn Central Texas. The new system is also changing how people can sign up for alerts, by making it more easy to sign up on a cell phone.

“Three months ago it was close to 100,000 residents had subscribed. That’s a pretty good number, but nowhere near where we need to be,” Carter says. He estimates in Austin alone, at least 5-thousand people move to the area a month.

“If it comes to it, we go door to door and knock on doors,” Carter said of bumping up subscribers.

Warn Central Texas works with 10 counties to get the word out about emergency alerts. Together the counties make up the capital area council of governments or CAPCOG:

  • Bastrop
  • Blanco
  • Burnet
  • Caldwell
  • Fayette
  • Hays
  • Lee
  • Llano
  • Travis
  • Williamson

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