Hays County emergency alert system more sophisticated than ever

Hays

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Three years since a devastating flood ripped through Hays County, emergency officials say their alert system is better than ever. 

New technology is allowing the county to pinpoint an exact area and send alerts only to those in danger.  

“The notification would go out to any resident or person with their GPS services turned on inside of this area,” said Hays County Emergency Management coordinator Kharley Smith.  

For many, the 2015 Memorial Day flood seemingly came out of nowhere. “We had no idea how high and how fast the river was actually moving,” said Smith.  

Back then, Hays County was operating with limited technology in rivers and creeks throughout the area. Water level gauges would only update every hour, county leaders knew something needed to change. 

“Since then we’ve implemented a system of gauges along the river to really see how rapidly that rise is affecting residents and how fast the water is moving,” said Smith.  

Now the county can receive updates every couple of minutes. That information allows them to pinpoint the exact location of the threat and within seconds an alert will go to only those affected.  

“We’ve utilized it just for a few houses on a street to notify them of a concern that’s happening,” said Smith.  

The system can be used for any type of emergency: floods, fires or even SWAT situations.

Smith says it’s not just for locals, as many of those affected that Memorial Day weekend were from out of town and didn’t know they had to sign up for an emergency alert system to be notified. Now they don’t have to.  

“Being able to notify people from out of town of an emergency that’s in Hays County that hasn’t registered for them, it is a big deal for us, it’s an important step to be made,” said Smith.  

The new system can also highlight specific roads that are flooded and send out an alert to drivers as they approach a dangerous area.  

Anyone can sign up for emergency alerts in Hays County. Even though you don’t have to be signed up to receive an alert, Smith says the information will be more accurate for those who fill out the information. You can sign up and learn more here.

KXAN’s Lauren Lanmon takes a closer look at the new system tonight on KXAN News at 10 p.m.

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