Hays County Launches Enhanced Flood Warning System
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – Residents and visitors to Hays County now have access to new information and an enhanced website that shares the status of low-water crossings and rain gauge levels. On Tuesday, February 27, Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Justin McInnis told the Commissioners Court the County’s one-stop emergency information website, HaysInformed.com, includes the status of 22 low-water crossings on an interactive map and 10 precipitation gauges with the public.
“The County began a concerted effort to add more reliable and robust flood warning and precipitation monitors throughout the county following the floods in 2015,” McInnis said. “Thanks to a grant from the Texas Water Development Board, and the technology expertise of Water and Earth Technology, we now have a state-of-the-art warning system that will be an asset to public safety going forward.” McInnis, who has an extensive background in hydrologic data collection and dissemination, said development of the systems took about a year.
In addition to the public-facing information, authorities will have access to video feeds from several sites as well as information from five dam monitors and gauges that were installed along the Blanco River in 2016 as a joint project by Hays County, USGS, LCRA, TWDB and NWS.
“The monitors will allow authorities to determine the height of water across the roads and behind dams and show potential damage to the roads, which will allow responding agencies to pre-plan rescue operations” McInnis said.
Monitors at five additional low-water crossings are expected to be added this year, and soon drought data will also be a part of the website as well as LCRA river monitoring data. The City of Austin’s ATXFloods map, which covers road closures in several counties in Central Texas including Hays County, will also be incorporated into the Hays County map. ATXFloods is currently a separate link accessible from the HaysInformed website.
Hays County emergency managers recommend signing up on Twitter @hays_oem to receive gauge status updates and other flood warning information, as well as at www.warncentraltexas.org to allow emergency notifications by phone, text or email about public safety events in your local area.
TWDB contributed $500,000 to the project, which is budgeted for $2.2 million.